Worry – does it help?

I recently met with one of my long-term clients and commented how she seemed more relaxed and contented. Margaret confirmed that she actually was in a better space and without delay showed me the sketch I had given her a few years ago from a colleague, Carl Richards, the New York Times columnist  known as the “sketch guy”.  Margaret said she recognises how much time and energy she has wasted worrying throughout her life but now when she finds herself worrying refers to the sketch below.  She told me she is so grateful for this sketch because controlling her long-term worry habit has made a big impact on her life.

We humans have been programmed over thousands of years to be on the look-out for danger to help protect ourselves and our families. At times there are very good reasons to be anxious but we don’t have to worry about sabre-toothed tigers now days!  Most of us don’t even need to worry about food, clothing or shelter. 

We all find it hard not to worry, at times, but ruminating or letting the problem replay over and over in your mind can inhibit sound thinking, plan development and taking positive action.

I think Shantideva, an Indian scholar, summed it up both elegantly and succinctly with the following – “if you can solve your problem, then what is the need of worrying”?  “If you cannot solve it, then what is the use of worrying?”

Another favourite, sixteenth century French philosopher Michel de Montaigne, famously said – “my life has been full of terrible misfortunes, most of which never happened.” This has been the inspiration for a psychological studies published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy that found that eighty five percent of what we worry about doesn’t happen.

I hope Carl’s sketch and the above quotes will make an impact just as it has for my long term client and friend.

Taken from an article written by Cambridge Partners Adviser Andrew Nuttall for Canterbury Tales, the official publication of the Canterbury Law Society, with thanks to Carl Richards for the sketch.


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