Worry Stage 1: Awareness

I keep six honest serving-men.

They taught me all I know.

Their names are What and Why and When and

How and Where and Who.

Rudyard Kipling, The Elephant ’s Child (1902)

Stuck in my mind are “Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How”, sometimes referred to as “W5 and How” … not because I always wanted to be a newspaper reporter but because I am curious and want to keep learning and understanding what makes us tick.

This series of blogs is about “worry” or “worrying” as a natural process. I don’t plan to get into great detail about the things we worry about, but that can always change as this series progresses.

Detailed answers to questions like the following help to recognize the uniqueness of this process in each of us.

What is it?
It‘s usually a feeling, very different in each person. At best, it’s curiosity. At worst, it’s fear or anger. In between is an extensive range from annoyance to concern. The more accurate and specific you can be in describing it, the more effective you will be in understanding and dealing with it. However, labelling each worry is just the beginning.

When does it happen?
The law of cause and effect states that things don’t just happen; something causes them to happen. Worry is an effect. When do you worry? What triggers it? What do you worry about?

Keep track of it.
I like to think things through. My priorities in life are clear, so I usually can keep track of my worries and their status in my mind. One of my rules is Covey‘s “First things first.” I deal with each worry when it gets to the top of my priority list. I also set some time at the end of each day to review how things have gone. Set aside time to worry rather than being a “worry-wart” all day long. You may prefer to write things down.

Why does it happen?
Often, worry occurs because you have needs that are not being met. What needs are at the root of your worrying?

How do you deal with worry?
Worry starts out because of a potential problem. How do you deal with problems?

What’s your track record?
How effective have you been in the past in dealing with worry? Are you satisfied with the results? If not, what’s preventing you from being successfully confronting worry?

What’s the evidence?
What criteria do you use to assess if you are successfully dealing with your  worries? Do words like – good, bad, effective, ineffective, useful, waste time, helps, hinders, benefits, harms – come to mind? These are general terms. It’s a good start. Other factors, such as the length of time to resolve worries and the impact on others, could also be considered as criteria.

These questions in Stage 1 give you a general flavour of your worry-traits. You are the object in a natural process. “Worry” is the subject in this process. In Stage 2 we will deepen the search for information about you, as the object. In addition, we will delve into what the “experts” have to say about the “worry”, “worrying”, and their characteristics.

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