We all worry. It’s part of being human.We all have those “what if?” thoughts that haunt us. We all seem to have an endless supply of things to worry about, too.
I’ve lately been worrying about an upcoming decision I have to make, so I’ve been thinking about the nature of worry, especially in the area of decisions. Many of the decisions we make in life are prone to worry because there is no way we can be absolutely sure of the outcome, whether we are making the right decision or not.
Worry is not a comfortable feeling, and so our natural reaction is to find a way to handle it. So I want to look at a few of the most common ways we try to handle the worry we have with decisions.
One way is to ignore it, to bury our head in the sand. How many times have you heard (or said) “I don’t want to even think about it” when a stressful decision is mentioned? So how effective is this strategy? It may actually be a good strategy short-term if we feel overwhelmed, to give ourselves a break, but as a long-term strategy it’s not a good choice. But how often do we put off a decision because of worry, because we don’t want to face the possibility of being wrong?
On the other hand, sometimes we use the completely opposite strategy: to eliminate the worry we rush to make a choice.. The person who immediately gets into a serious relationship is a classic example of avoiding the stress and worry of evaluating different choices by choosing before they even have time to worry about it. While this may work fine if you’re deciding on what to eat for lunch, it’s obviously a terrible strategy for important decisions with long-term consequences.
A third strategy is to transfer responsibility. If we can give the responsibility for a decision to someone else, then that can reduce our worry. The problem is, we can then start worrying about what kind of decision they are going to make. Worse yet, if the decision the other person makes turns out not to be a good one, then worry turns to blame, which is an even more toxic emotion.
The last strategy is by far the most effective and the most challenging: to engage and trust. We engage, we face the worry head-on and do what’s necessary to work through our decision, as long as it takes. And then we trust, knowing that God will guide both our decision and all the circumstances around it, to unfold something good in our life.