Keeping Calm by Robin Trimingham
As some of you may be aware there is a category 4 hurricane somewhere in the mid Atlantic which is expected to pass to the south of Bermuda sometime in the next couple of days. In the age of internet and doppler radar it is easy to get hourly updates regarding the speed and trajectory of any such storm and an equal temptation to become more and more stressed as the weather approaches.
I often wonder what it must have been like in the 1800’s to look out at large clouds on the horizon and the mounting swell of the ocean and wonder what was coming – was it just a cold front, or a couple of days of needed rain, or the mother of all storms? Indeed, the desire to know whether a hurricane was on the way became so intense that Bermudians often kept a jar of shark oil on the porch as a make-shift barometer; claiming that the oil would change from it’s normally clear state to a cloudy mixture when a storm was on the way. While there is no doubt that oil reacts to changes in atmospheric pressure, the accuracy of these primitive barometers is open to debate and may have caused people to worry unnecessarily as often as its hazy indication was accurate.
In some respects, a lot of the potential problems that we face in life are like this. On the one hand we are aware that something bad “could happen” or “might occur” but rather than doing a proper investigation to determine what is going to occur and planning a series of manageable steps to prepare and to navigate a path through the situation – we simply sit and worry, allowing the problem which might not even materialize to fester away inside us.
How much more productive it would be to remain calm in the absence of facts and instead focus on taking a break from these stressful and negative thoughts – delaying the act of worrying until such a time as we have confirmation that there actually is something to worry about. Then, should you receive confirmation that there is in fact an approaching storm (or any difficult situation), focus your energy on perceiving and carrying out the most effective course of action in a calm and logical manner, and again deferring any thoughts of “worry” until such a time as you have confirmation that there is indeed something to worry about.
By encouraging yourself to put off worrying as long as it is realistically possible, most of the time you will discover that the situation comes and goes without incident and that “worrying” was in fact unnecessary and counter-productive. In the less common situations were something untoward does in fact occur, you can reassure yourself that you took every step possible to prepare for and / or prevent the problem, and rather than worrying, you can now simply focus on dealing with the event that has occurred and moving forward – rendering “worry” again unnecessary.
In fact, your new mantra might well be “delay, delay – send worry away”.
By Robin Trimingham