Has worrying ever helped you solve a problem, prevented something bad from happening, or brought you any kind of resolution or peace? Me neither. Worrying has, on the other hand, prevented me from relaxing, brought me all kinds of angst, and even made me physically ill. Those are the benefits of worrying. If we packaged worry up and tried to sell it, no one would want to buy it! So, if worrying serves no productive purpose, and has no real benefits, then why do so many of us engage in it way too often?
For most people, worrying is a way to try to control a situation. The truth is, worrying about something actually controls nothing. It doesn’t change anything either. It’s the day to day decisions most people fret over; choices involving family, careers, finances, relationships, and how to spend our time. Life is full of decisions. Should I stay in the relationship or get out? Should I take this class or that one? Should I purchase this set of tires or those more expensive ones? Should we go out of town this weekend or stay home? Should I stay in this job or look for something else? Should I have this conversation with my spouse now, or wait? Should we refinance or sit tight?
Most people, at one time or another, fear making the wrong decision, and can even become chronically fearful when it comes to choices. Fear can paralyze us, and prevent us from making decisions; and indecision is a decision!
I used to fret and worry a lot about even minor decisions, until I experienced how making choices according to my values brought a sense of calm into my life, and actually reduced my worrying. Here’s the reality: when you make decisions that are incongruent with your personal values, you are setting yourself up for stress, depression, and anxiety. But when your choices line up with your values, you feel calmer, more at peace and worry much less.
My husband and I both value family. We recently made the decision to move across country to be closer to some family members who need our help and support. Even though moving can be extremely stressful, we are not stressed at all. We are not worried. In fact, we have complete peace about it, because our decision is congruent with what we value, and everything is falling into place. On the other hand, prior to making the decision, I was stressed and worried constantly, because in my current situation, I was not able to live according to what I valued – caring for my family.
Think about it. When was the last time you made a decision that did not line up with what you value most? How did you feel? Compare it to a time when your choice was in line with your personal values. How did you feel?
Hope whispers, don’t worry.
A few years ago, a friend of mine shared with me how she was struggling between two job offers, and worrying about which was the right one for her. They both had their pros and cons. She was really stressed about which one to choose. When we started discussing what her values were, she began to see a clear pattern in one of the jobs versus the other. For instance, she values creativity, and one of the jobs gave her lots of room to be creative, where the other would have stifled her creativity. As she compared and contrasted what she values with what each job offered, her decision became crystal clear. She chose the job that lined up more closely with her personal values; she is still with that company today, and very happy in her career!
You may know exactly what your values are. You may still be searching. Doing a values assessment can be liberating and insightful, and assist you in defining decisions – both big and small. There are a plethora of value assessments available online, many of them free. A values assessment can be a great resource and provide valuable insight into exactly what is most important to you. You may think you know, but it can be difficult to pinpoint without a prompt. You may not even realize that some of the things you are passionate about, are actually values! It can be real eye opener, and reinforce the power of your decisions. Living by your values promotes an environment of hope. It will help you enjoy life more, and worry less!