The Power of Worrying

Ayade recently acquired a new Toyota Corolla saloon car. Being a stickler to rules and regulations, he told his wife he wasn’t going to drive the vehicle until all his papers were complete. He then put a call through to Mr. Ejire, the insurance man who had been helpful to a number of his friends in renewing or procuring their vehicle licenses and related documents. After a quick conversation and negotiation over the phone, he transferred the agreed sum into Mr. Ejire’s bank account and also sent the required information about the vehicle to his WhatsApp messenger. He was told that the papers will be ready in five days.

However, on the morning of the 5th day, Ayade got a call from the insurance man. He was informed that there was going to be a 48-hour delay. The insurance man apologized for any difficulties this delay might cause.  That was the beginning of his problems. His mind went into “overdrive”. He began to question the authenticity of the insurance man in his mind. He began to raise the “what ifs”! “What if the man was a fraudster”? “What if he had spent his money on personal enjoyment”? “What if he was stealing from people”? “What if he wouldn’t be able to take his car to work for another week”? What if his friends begin to tease him about the car”? The list of rhetorical questions became endless. Eventually, these thoughts began to weigh him down. He became restless and cranky. His concentration at work became suboptimal. After office hours later that day, he puts a call through to Mr.Ejire. Mr. Ejire noticed the tension in his voice. He tried to calm him down, reassuring him that he will do everything possible to get him the documents ASAP. His wife noticed his mood and tried to avoid any conversation about the vehicle’s documents. He couldn’t stop talking about it, neither could he enjoy his dinner nor his sleep that night. As he was preparing to go to work the next morning, he got a call from the insurance man. The vehicle documents were ready! Ayade heaved a sigh of relief. His countenance changed. His soul was lifted! But he asked himself; “why did I ever get so worked up in the first instance?” It then occurred to him that he had missed two critical appointments the previous day while worrying about the delayed vehicle documents.

That is how negatively powerful worrying can be.

Many of us get worked up in Ayade-like worries from time to time. We fail to make a conscious effort to avoid being subsumed in worrying about issues that we have no control over. The powerful drag of the worrying thoughts eventually engulfs our entire being to the extent that we fail to think about other kinds of stuff that we can do something about. Thoughts are the aim/goal-oriented flow of ideas and associations that are expected to lead to a reality-oriented conclusion. There is a wide difference between thinking and worrying. When we engage in critical thinking, we are focused on the resolution of specific issues or conclusions on action points after a logical evaluation of possible options.

Worrying involves illogical appraisal of the issue at hand without a focus on action points or modalities for resolution of the matter at hand. Anybody can worry about anything. However, it isn’t everybody that can think about any issue. For instance, I can begin to worry about the aftermath of the COVID-19 Virus infecting more Nigerians. The variability in potential outcomes is indeed endless! So, I can begin to worry about these endless possibilities and continue to build up my anxiety level. Whereas, the Minster for health and other members of the Nigerian Center for Disease Control are endowed with the ability and the resources to think about how the COVID-19 virus will not infect more Nigerians! It is not my business to think about this virus matter at all. If I should mistakenly try to think about it, the thought process will simply be worrying thoughts.

Worrying has the power to drain our mental ability to think. When we cloud our minds with worries about issues that we lack the ability or the resources to handle, we end up distracting ourselves from the ones that we can handle.

My candid opinion is that a lot of worrying is going on concerning our national issues as a nation (in Nigeria). Very few people are involved in thinking about the way forward. The individuals who are put in a position either by election or by their career progression have also joined the general populace in worrying about our challenges. Nobody seems to be critically thinking about our challenges.

Worrying also damages our mental health. Worrying thoughts are symptoms of mental disorders. Up to 2 out of every 10 persons in Nigeria are suffering from one mental disorder or the other. We also know that about 8 out of every 10 persons who have a mental disorder are not receiving standard treatment. Lots of these people are subsumed in worrying about their challenges without thinking about a way out. Worrying has the power to make challenges appear more intimidating. While worrying, there is a tendency to get lost in the associated issues without addressing the primary source of concern.

When you begin to ponder on an issue persistently, ask yourself, “Am I worrying or thinking about this issue?”

To avoid worrying unnecessarily about any issue, here are some simple tips that will break the chain of worries:

  1. Break matters of concern into specific points guided by the goal or expected outcome.
  2. After identifying the expected outcome, make a list of resources needed. The list should be divided into the ones you have and then ones you don’t have.
  3. Make a list of action points that will help you get the resources.
  4. Write out your “To-do list” towards utilizing the resources to achieve the desired outcome.

If any of these steps is not feasible, the likelihood of getting the desired outcome is slim. You might have to consider walking away from that issue and moving unto achievable goals. Instead of staying to worry, why not walk away from the troubles in your life and free yourself from the powerful clutches of “WORRY”.



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Ola Ibigbami


6 Responses

  1. Thank you sir for this mind blowing write up. Many times we get so worried that refused to think. Unfortunately, worries does not solve any problem rather compounds it.

  2. Nice write up. However, I am of the opinion that your thoughts may give room to worries..rightly or wrongly. You worry when you think of consequences of some actions or in actions. It’s an innate thing. Some worries may be baseless…some, very necessary

    • Thank you, Sir.
      I agree with you that in the process of thinking we can drift into worrying.
      That is why we need to make a conscious effort to focus our thoughts on the action points we have mapped out to achieve our goals.

  3. This article is pointing a finger at me, thank you so much Dr. Ola. I will really work hard on those TIPS

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