by Terry L. Sumerlin
Do you ever worry? I’ve had people tell me that they never worry about anything. I’ll take their word for that. However, for the rest of us, worry can be a problem.
We tend to worry about similar things, such as health, careers, family, money, relationships and cars. Yes, I said cars!
Right now, as I sit in the Catalyst, the coffee shop for the historic General Morgan Inn in beautiful Greeneville, Tennessee, I’m worried about my car. I know, worry can cause insomnia, high blood pressure and hair loss. (I think I’m in the clear on one of those side effects!) But when I see the “check engine” light on a car with less than 30,000 miles, I worry.
The light has gone on and off for the past 2,500 miles, from Lavon, Texas to Gettsyburg, Pennsylvania to Washington, D.C. to Greeneville, Tennessee. I’ve had it checked twice, and I’ve had the sensor replaced once. On our long anticipated once-in-a-lifetime road trip, the light has been the proverbial fly in the ointment.
But, alas, some good has come from this pesky fly: I get to reflect on how I’ve dealt with my worry, and I get to share my findings with you.
Many years ago, when Al Smith was governor of New York, he had a way of dealing with worrisome issues. He would say, “Let’s examine the facts.” That’s what I’ve tried to do with regard to my car.
Fact: I’ve been assured TWICE that we will make it home, with no damage to the engine. Fact: I’m told that only when the light is blinking is there a serious problem, and it has never blinked. Fact: we’ve made it this far.
Imagination, on the other hand, says the light is going to start blinking, and the car is going to blow up immediately. We will be left standing by the side of some lonely stretch of highway in the middle of the night, waiting to hitch a ride with a serial killer.
Truly, the most powerful nation in the world is imagi-“nation.” So, the first thing I would share on dealing with worry is to silence the imagination and to just deal with the facts. I would even suggest that, as I’m doing now, we write these facts down. This step greatly serves to rein in a wild imagination.
Another thing that has helped me in dealing with the emotional state known as worry is motion. Sherry and I have been so busy having so much fun that “the light” is often forgotten. A light on the dash of our car meant nothing while we were in motion, viewing the Washington Monument, Mount Vernon, Monticello and Montpelier. Always remember, motion (of any kind) will change emotion.
Perspective can also pull you out of a state of worry. The engine light and car mean nothing at all compared to the sacrifices that are represented by Gettysburg or the Lincoln Memorial. In fact, by making such a big deal of such relative trifles, I feel a bit ashamed.
We have so much to enjoy in this life and so much for which to be thankful. Most of what we worry about doesn’t ever happen anyway. Let’s make it Job #1 to enjoy all the relationships and good things that DO happen.
BARBER-OSOPHY: Eliminate most worry by grabbing hold of the real moment and letting go of the remote possibility of the worrisome maybes.
Feel free to reprint this article in your organization’s newsletter. Please add the following notice — exactly as follows: *Reprinted with permission from Terry L. Sumerlin. © 2015 Terry L. Sumerlin. For over 25 years, leadership author and conference speaker, Terry L. Sumerlin, has been addressing audiences throughout the U.S. and internationally. www.terrysumerlin.com