Wednesday, January 4, 2017

A 12 Step Program for Worriers

I was on the phone with my mamma.....the conversation follows along these lines:

Mamma opens with her usual, "How are you?"

I respond, "I am worrying about all sorts of things.'

She replies, "You do that a lot."

Me, "Yep.  If there were awards in worrying, I might win something."

I worry.  I think it's a part of me.  I am not sure.  I've been told when I worry it's because I don't have enough faith (I don't think that's it).  I've been told when I worry, it's because I don't trust  God enough (I don't think that's it, but there could be some kernel of truth to this).  I've been told when I worry that I don't know how to have fun and live in the moment (this can be true at times).  I've also been told that when I worry it's because I am a control freak (this is probably 100% true).

I've always worried.  I come from a long line of worriers.  I think it's a part of how God made me, but it does make me pause.  I know worry contributes to my stress life, which isn't good, but worry also makes me very organized, usually prepared with a plan, and ready to take on any scenario that's thrown at me.

But I confess that worry sometimes gets the better part of me.  Much like it gets to the better part of many people.  Worry is the part of us that wants to be able to control every eventuality, when that is simply impossible.

Worry can be an addiction, which led me to think about the 12 Step Program of Alcoholics Anonymous .  I am not sure anyone does addiction support better than AA.  At a minimum, it is the most worldly know support system for alcoholics and their families.  Which led me to take a deeper look at their 12 Step Program (Alcoholics Anonymous, 1981).  I think the 12 Step Program applies to many aspects of life and the things we struggle with each day.  As a world champion worrier, I took the 12 Step Program and applied it to my worries.  I share it with you so that you too, can have a path towards managing your worry when it spins out of control:

  1. We admit we are powerless to worry--our lives feel out of control.
  2. We need to believe that a Power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity.
  3. We need to make a decision to turn our worry and lives over to the care of God.
  4. We need to search inside of ourselves to understand what makes us worry. 
  5. We need to admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the nature of our worry.
  6. We need to be ready to release our worry to God.
  7. We need to ask God to forgive us when we continue to worry. Sometimes, worry just happens.
  8. We need to make a list of all those things we worry about, and put them away.
  9. We need to ask forgiveness of those who are impacted by our worry. 
  10. We need to be continually self-aware so that when worry starts to take control of our lives, we promptly redirect it.
  11. We need to breathe, ground ourselves in the present through our five senses, and practice prayer and meditation to improve our relationship with God to help us with those things we worry. 
  12. As we begin to master our worry, we will share these skills with others and continues to practice acts of prayer, breathe, presence, and meditation in all our affairs, putting the worry aside.

    If you worry like me, you'll continue to worry no matter what.  It's a constant process of identifying the worry, redirecting myself to the present, engaging my five senses to ground me, breathing through the moments when the worry takes control, and praying fiercely for God to be in control.  I visualize some days like a mountain climb...we go up the worry mountain, and then practice patterns of behavior that let us go back down to the valley of calm and peace.

    The good thing about worry, is that there are things you can do, much like any of our behaviors.  we just have to practice disciplines that support the change we seek.  I'll probably always worry, but at least now, I have ways of ensuring it doesn't drive me too crazy, and now you have 12 steps to help you too.