“Most of the things we worry about we have no control over, and most of the things we worry about never happen.”
- Matthew Kelly, Dynamic Catholic
I have a confession to make. I’m a chronic worrier. Even when things are going well in my life, I worry that they may not continue in that way. Are you letting worry rule your life, too?
Here are four ways I cope with worry:
1. Focus on the here and now
It’s so easy to get distracted by all the noise filling our lives. According to Deloitte in this Time article, people in the US across all age groups check their phones an average of 46 times daily. It’s rare to walk into a restaurant and see two or more people at a table exclusively focused on each other. How did we get to this place as a society? We say we love our family and want to spend more time together, yet our actions prove differently.
The solution? Create more present perfect moments. Take your kids out to the park or grab a treat and just focus on them. Pick a time when you won’t be pressured to rush back home.
2. Confide in someone
Letting internal worry fill our minds is a vicious cycle. When you worry about one thing, it is natural to think about something else. For example, I’m worried about my son’s speech delay. That prompts me to worry about other associated medical conditions like autism. Next, I worry he won’t feel comfortable in a traditional preschool. The list goes on.
My husband Bryan isn’t a worrier like me. He easily lives in the present and accepts the things he cannot change. Naturally, I turn to him when I let another vicious cycle of worry surface in my head. Confiding in Bryan is healing. I verbally express my thoughts, and Bryan reminds me that some things are outside of my control.
We are meant for partnership. Whether it is your spouse or best friend, you need to express your concerns to someone who will help you see things from a different vantage point – without judgment. He or she can reframe your perspective.
3. Pray about it
God is the source of life and all that is good. Offering worries to God through prayer instills an inner sense of peace. And you don’t have to be in a church to pray. Instead, find a quiet place that is free from distraction. This could even be your bedroom or backyard. Quiet produces calm, and calm leads to peace. Peace brings us into the present moment and helps us tune out past failures or future worries.
4. Problem solve
Because we cannot control external events, we need to become excellent problem solvers. Using my earlier example, I cannot control if my son has autism. But I can take him to an autism evaluation. If the autism diagnosis is made, I can see to it that he gets the best possible therapy services and plan financially for them. Those things are within my reach.
What problem are you facing today?
Are you concerned about your family’s financial livelihood if you become disabled or die? Then you should revisit disability and life insurance.
Do you worry that you’re unable to pay for a portion of your child’s upcoming college expenses and you don’t want to sacrifice your own retirement? Take a look at your cash flow plan and aim to set aside at least 20% of your income for retirement and other savings goals.
Does the recent stock market volatility have you concerned? Review your asset mix and evaluate whether you can emotionally stomach the risk.
Clients confide in me with these concerns regularly. We work through the deepest worry first and then address other challenges. That’s why financial planning is a process, not a one-time event. Change is inevitable. I strive to be with clients throughout life’s transitions.
What’s your biggest worry? How do you find peace? Please let me know in the comments below.
Deborah L. Meyer, CPA/PFS, CFP® is a fee-only financial planner and investment advisor based in Saint Charles, Missouri who helps faith-filled families to achieve their financial and life goals. As the owner of WorthyNest, Deb empowers families nationally to build long-term wealth. Find Deb discussing family-minded finance on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter.