Worry for worry sake. The act of rehashing something that is either out of your control or that you don't want to deal with in the hopes of finding a new outcome, or to feel like you are “doing something” about it. The attraction is it feels like action, even if it is about a subject we can not do anything about. The problem is we are spending valuable time and energy in a way that is emotionally exhausting and physically draining. Even for the most empathetic person there has to be a better way.
When I think of worry I think of the Serenity Prayer. Learning the difference between what we can, and can not change. The therapeutic term for this is radical acceptance, and it is something everyone should practice. We all have those things in our life that concern us, but for whatever reason are beyond our control and influence. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) teaches us when faced with these situations to work towards accepting what is. By accepting the present we can let go of thoughts like “I should”, “I wish”, or “what if”, and replaced them with a simple “I can” or “I can not”. When we do this we move from basing responses to situations on our emotions and move towards basing them on what we can achieve through action.
Some people resist radical acceptance because it means we have to accept things that may be upsetting. They feel like it means they are giving up. The opposite is true though. When we finally accept certain things are outside of our control we can refocus our energy on those things that are we do have influence over. We get greater joy out of our day because we have an achievable purpose. It is then we can see the satisfaction of seeing the impact we make on our self, our surroundings, and on the lives of others.
So the next time you are feeling overwhelmed take a mental inventory of what you are thinking about. If it is outside of your control, let it go. If it is within your control, own it, make a plan, and execute it. You soon will be on your way to a happier and more productive you.