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Take your worries and stuff ‘em…in a box

Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.

-Corrie Ten Boom


Sometimes, worrying is for naught.


My daughter, Amanda, is a worry bird. Even as a child, she worried about everything. Her disquiet got so bad that finally, one day, I asked Amanda to gather her worries and hand them over to me, literally. We engaged in this ritual countless times. My little girl would shyly hand over the invisible worries, and I would symbolically stuff them in my pants pocket. Each time we did this, Amanda seemed to feel better. Out of sight, out of mind.



Incessantly worrying about something might propel us into action, which could help dilute that particular worry. However, I’ve also observed that worrying can be counterproductive and could instead rob our minds of ideas and industrious inspirations. So, why give wings to worry? Why not store away relentless, caustic thoughts that could be stalling us?


To illustrate my point, I lean on a poem by Bertha Adams Backus. Here’s a slice:


The Laugh

Build for yourself a strong box,

Fashion each part with care;

When it’s strong as your hand can make it,

Put all your troubles there;

Hide there all thought of your failures,

And each bitter cup that you quaff;

Lock all your heartaches within it,

Then sit on the lid and laugh.



Several years ago, I experienced car problems. A friend introduced me to a fairly reasonable, inexpensive mechanic. This mechanic tuned up my car and got it road-ready fairly quickly. But the mechanic also diagnosed a looming problem. My car’s wheel bearings would need replacement in the future. Parts and labor would likely add up to about $700. With bills tugging at me each week, I could not schedule a follow-up visit to the mechanic. I worried about this constantly, wondering when I would have extra money for the repairs. I must have worried for several months. Then, one day, Amanda (yes, my worry bird) crashed my car, totaling it.


Thankfully, Amanda was not injured. While at a red light, she prematurely hit the gas pedal and rammed a Hummer in front. Our insurance covered everything. And I bought a different car. So, all that worrying about my wheel bearings was for naught. This is not meant to encourage neglect of car maintenance. But this can serve as a reminder that life finds a way of tuning and pruning the road. We often don’t know what’s ahead. Sometimes, the unpredictable happens. Life is the eventual driver, managing the road.


So, if there’s something that you need to address, either make a plan to remedy the situation, or choose not to worry about it. Make a plan, worry less, and know that everything you’re facing right now could reshape itself, or be non-existent five years from now.

In recent articles, psychologist and writer, Nick Wignall, points out that worry gives you the illusion of certainty. Worry is our attempt to out-run helplessness. And while it never works in the long run, we keep trying because it very briefly works in the short term, albeit with the unhappy side effect that we stay stressed and anxious in exchange for the illusion of control. Wignall says that when you stop beating yourself down with all the stress and anxiety that comes with chronic worry, you'd be surprised how much energy and enthusiasm returns to your life.


If there’s something on your mind, find a way to manage it. If a solution is out of your immediate control, then make a plan. And if there’s no viable strategy, wittingly place it inside your Box of Worries. It is when you get stuck in a cycle, of repeated thoughts, that you stall your walk. Why not rearrange the furniture in your mind? Pack that space with vivacity, and build on the strength of ideas. Shift your focus. And do remember that talking with someone about your worries can oftentimes provide relief, practical feedback, or even a pocket for storage.


I leave you with words from Camille Paglia:


“We must accept our pain, change what we can, and laugh at the rest,”


Shift your focus. Transform your thoughts. Embolden your mind.



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Well said. I turn my worries into prayers and put them in God’s Hands. Immediate relief, and I keep in alignment with God’s will for me in any situation. The result is a grateful heart despite the worry. Thanks for this brilliantly written article.

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