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Linda Samuels, CPO-CD®

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What Happens When You Leave Worry as a Last Resort?

We’re all human, which means that worry is part of who we are. Some of us worry more than others, don't we? Perhaps that’s how we were born (nature), or maybe it’s due to how we were raised (nurture), and more likely it’s a combination of both.

There’s certainly plenty to worry about. We worry about the weather, the future, the past, what other people are doing, or not doing. We worry about our friends and family, our weight, our health, our schedules and appointments, being late or on time, and our full or empty plates. We worry about the things we have control over and those we don’t. We worry about what might happen and what didn't. There’s no shortage for the things we worry about.


One of my favorite phrases that my Uncle Lew says is,

“Let’s leave worry as a last resort.”

I love his philosophy that we don't have to rule worrying out all together, but let’s focus on the positive and only pull out the worry card if absolutely necessary.


In The Worry Cure by Robert Leahy, Ph.D., he sites one study where

“. . . worriers were asked to write down their worries over a two-week period and predict what would happen. In fact, 85 percent of the actual outcomes were positive.”


When I was in Toronto last month for the POC conference, I explored one neighborhood that was filled with artistic graffiti. I came across the “Don’t Worry!” sign spray painted on one of the buildings. I loved the strong message.

On my desk, I have a small purple eraser from the whimsical office product company, Poppin. On the eraser, printed in white letters it says,

“work happy.”

So I leave you today with these thoughts…let the worries flow elsewhere and allow the happy to come your way. I’d love to hear your thoughts. How do you manage the worry and happy in your life? Come join the conversation.





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Reader Comments (14)

I admit, Linda, I used to be a full-time worrier. I worried about everything you mentioned in your post and more. Sometimes I worried so much that I ended up feeling physically ill. One day, I came across a greeting card by Mary Engelbreit. The greeting read: "Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles, it empties today of its strength." This really spoke to me. I realized that spending so much time worrying did not solve anything and it took valuable time away from any and all productive work. I still worry from time to time but when I do I pull out this greeting card to remind myself of the pitfalls of worrying.

November 3, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDiane Quintana

@Diane- What a testament to you that you were able to turn off the worry. Isn't it interesting how much we can be influenced by the written word, things we hear, or conversations we have? Thank you for sharing Engelbreit's wonderful quote and your personal story.

November 3, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

Linda, your uncle´s phrase is so spot on. We are so stubborn and worry about loosing the good things and finding the worst scenarios. Anyway if something bad is meant to happen it will happen; even more, we can attract it by our thoughts. So, we better do as your uncle says. Also Diane quote about worries draining out our strength is right. Worry consumes the best of our resources and could leave us empty handed.

November 3, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNacho Eguiarte

I love your uncles phrase, and it is so true. The one I use on my son is "don't borrow trouble" in other words don't worry about things you can't control the outcome of. I have learned over the years to worry less and plan more, which calms my nerves and lets me enjoy the moment.

November 3, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJill Robson

Worry is a treadmill without the health benefit! It wears us out and accomplishes very little. That said, letting it go is easier said than done. Love the idea of "work happy"... to the extent we can, we benefit not only ourselves but those around us.

November 3, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSeana Turner

I love this post too Linda (you are SO inspirationally intuitive)!

Most of the first half of my life was spent as a worrier, and most of it was the result of a continually disruptive/unstable childhood. However, I remember one specific day, I was in my 30's, when I made a very determined decision to STOP worrying! The Mary Englebreit quote that Diane Quintana shared is very right-on! "Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles, it empties today of its strength." I was a single parent and raising two young boys then...worrying became too destructive and was not how I wanted to lead my boys! I've replaced worry with wondering, which is allows the mind and soul the opportunity to explore pro-active options instead of potentially dreadful outcomes. I have to admit, this change wasn't achieved overnight; its took three + more decades to arrive to today, but I am grateful for the today more than ever!!

November 3, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSheila Delson, CPO-CD

I'm inspired reading what you wrote. What an amazing group!

@Nacho- Such an interesting point you make about laws of attraction and how they relate to worry. If we think about bad things happening, there's more potential for attracting that. However, the opposite is also true.

@Jill- I love your phrase, "don't borrow trouble." That's wonderful! It's also interesting that your solution to worrying less is planning more. Very creative.

@Seana- Wow! You have to coin that one…"Worry is a treadmill without the health benefit!" And how true that worry IS exhausting. I also agree that it's not always so easy to let go. We can get in a "worry loop," that the brain keeps cycling.

@Sheila- My dear friend, thank you for sharing and so eloquently your personal shift away from worrying as your go to response. I'm in awe of you, Diane and Jill for being able to identify the negative toll of worry and replace the instinct with "pro-active options." I love how you said it, 'I've replaced worry with wondering." Those long journeys are so worth taking, aren't' they?

November 3, 2015 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Truly worry is one of the biggest challenges we all face. In addressing it head on, it opens us up to change this perspective. As a visual person, I put worry in a "box". It's an imaginary box that keeps what is troubling me "contained." I love the perspectives of everyone shared here, including the treadmill!

November 4, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterEllen Delap

@Ellen- What a unique way to manage worry…by putting it in your "imaginary box." I'm fascinated but the many and creative ways each of us has of handling this very human problem. Thank you for adding your worry management strategy with us. Awesome!

November 4, 2015 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Patricia of @sans_clutter shared a lovely story by Paulo Coelho, called "The Problem Tree." It's a great addition to this conversation and I wanted to share it with you. Here's the link:

November 4, 2015 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I love Uncle Lew!
'...Worry as a last resort' implies it is still an option but that we exercise other options first.
Linda - your posts are always a great reminder that there is a positive way forward.

For the practiced worrier letting 'happy come your way' may take a little more effort and intention. Worry is habitual and difficult to change because of the strong emotional connections. Leading with "What will go right?" assumes that the 'right' will occur (just like the 'worried place' assumes that the 'wrong' will occur). Getting thoughts out of the head and onto paper strips the language of the powerful negative feelings when we keep it all in our heads.

November 9, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCameron Gott

@Cam- You bring up an excellent point about being a "practiced" or "habitual" worrier and how challenging it can be to accept that "right" will occur. I like your strategy for managing worry by capturing thoughts on paper which in turn reduce some of their emotional power. I'm with you... LOVE Uncle Lew too!

November 9, 2015 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Your post reminds me of that quote: "Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy," by Leo Buscaglia. Personally, when I'm caught in the worry cycle, I ask myself if it's really going to matter in a year and it almost always doesn't, so I'm better able to move on.

October 31, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Soboleski

@Sarah- LOVE the Buscaglia quote and your personal "ask" for evaluating worry! What a useful perspective to future think as a way of keeping worry in check. Wow!!!

November 1, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

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