Now before you worry about me, I'm fine. I still feel both worry and guilt. I believe they are necessary for normal psychological functioning. They are warning signs that there is something we believe we have left undone, or some way that we have injured someone else. (I know those are simplistic definitions, but let's leave them for a bit). So, as far as warning signs go, we need worry and guilt in our lives.
However, when the smoke alarm goes off in your house what do you do? Well, I look for the source of the smoke (usually overcooking), determine if there is a real fire, get rid of the smoke and turn off the alarm. Probably the last thing you do is keep feeding smoke into the alarm, letting it shriek and replacing the batteries when they run low. Yet many people I've spoken with over the years deal with worry and guilt like that. They feed the worry and guilt constantly neither dealing with the problem, nor silencing the alarm. They can go on like this for years.
Somehow many of us have come to think that by worrying or feeling guilty we are doing something. That is not true at all. We are just letting alarms go off, but not dealing with the issue. Once I realized I was simply perpetuating an alarm by wallowing in worry or guilt I determined to start dealing with the issues.
So, now I listen to myself carefully when I worry or feel guilty. Then I determine what part of the issue is under my control and what part is totally out of my control. It has taken me many years, but I've finally learned to let go of what I can't control, and focus on what I can control. Next, I take action; I do something to eradicate what I'm worried about or I take an action that rectifies what I feel guilty about.
This discipline requires practice, but it is well worth it. Understanding worry and guilt as warning signs takes a lot of their power away and places them at our disposal rather than debilitating us. More importantly in this entire process, you feel more of a sense of control and that, more than anything, can eliminate both worry and guilt.
I no longer worry about the devaluation of the dollar. There's nothing I can do about that. But the other warning signs that pop up, worry about business or guilt about not calling a friend, I can deal with. Worry and guilt are good emotions to have, but only for a short period of time. Take some action and turn off the alarm. Your life will be much more peaceful.