What To Do With Worry


Most of us think of worry as something we are incapable of changing. It can be tempting to think of worry as something that can only be impacted by fixing external circumstances. If we remove or resolve the source of our worry, we won’t worry any more, right?

Not necessarily. You see, worry is a cognitive function, a mental spinning that keeps our minds so busy that we often cannot access the feeling underneath it. As soon as we resolve one source of worry in our lives, another will pop up. Those of us who have a habit of worrying will find something to worry about! I had a meeting recently the outcome of which was going to be potentially life changing. I was most definitely worrying about that meeting in the weeks and days leading up to it. When I drilled down beneath the worry and to the level of my emotions, I found fear. There were layers to the fear, and it was complicated to sort through, but it shed a new light on the tension for me. I had some spiritual fears and some more practical ones.  Allowing myself to feel those fears, to make room for them inside, allowed me to work with the invitation within that emotion for processing the fears. Is God good and looking out for my family no matter what the outcome? Am I connecting this experience to past experiences? Do I need to reframe this somehow?

The long and short of it is that your worry problem might actually be an avoidance problem. It’s hard to face fears and other negative emotions. Worry, as annoying as it can be, can mask those unwelcome emotions. The solution? Allow worry to serve as an invitation to you to drill down into the fears and emotions that are unconsciously or consciously driving the worry. In admitting, allowing, and making room for those emotions, you may find some relief.

What’s underneath your worry?


  1. Since our daughter Anna died at the age of 23 from complications of her second bone marrow transplant and our house being hit by the Tuscaloosa tornado, I don’t really worry but I have a sense of no control over anything really important to me. I can control my routine, what we eat, my work but the really important matters are out of my control.

    I’m just going through the motions trying to make sense of why we are here and what is my purpose. I lost half of my purpose when Anna died. I was her mother, her protector, and she was my firstborn, love of my life.

    I’m thankful to have Tori and Chris and I’m trying to move forward with them.

    I enjoy your blog. Very proud of you.

  2. This thoughtful post, like several past ones, reflects your ability to distill sometimes complex concepts into a down-to-earth, day-to-day way. Thank you.

    In March I attended an art and social justice expression group which was really powerful. Through writing poetry, engaging movement and creating visual arts in collaboration with others, I became aware of a deep level of fear that I’ve been carrying around for years after a betrayal. I experienced it consciously as worry about all things out of control, both significant and ordinary. The retreat allowed me to admit to myself that my worry was really fear.

    In the days and weeks following the group retreat, having had the invitation to open up to my interior life, I was very surprised to discover through my on-going processing that beneath the fear was rage and anger. Perhaps it is better said that the fear was not wholly the fear of circumstances, broken trust, or the unknown, but in a large part was (is) a fear of that same anger and rage.

    If I get in touch with it, how will it manifest? is a question I I believe that I choose to carry with me. Your post encourages me to think about what positive outcome might be manifested if I choose to “drill down” even further. I will look at that with intentionality. Many thanks for walking the walk and sharing your experience.

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