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Worry Go Round
Photo: Alexander Mychko
As I stared at my computer screen my blood pressure began to rise; my stomach knotted and my chest ratcheted in a notch or two. Earlier that morning, I had made a credit card purchase of $129 for dietary supplements over the phone. Now, several hours later during a routine on-line perusal of my bank account, I discovered a pending debit card transaction for $129 from that very same company!

Knowing my checking account balance was $1.95, I immediately freaked out! A hurried phone call to the company confirmed my fears. They had inadvertently charged the purchase to my debit card rather than my credit card because the debit card was already on file in their system, from a previous purchase.

And, although they assured me they would immediately issue a credit to my account, I began to worry. A flurry of “what if’s” began to invade my mind. What if, the credit didn’t go through in time? What if, I received a non-sufficient funds charge of $30? What if, I received two, or more charges? What if, the company refused to reimburse those charges to me?


I felt stressed and tried not to worry but worry I did. For two days, I compulsively checked my account every two or three hours for the refund. Nothing appeared but the pending debit card transaction. I prayed about the situation more than once but I still worried.

On the third day, I saw the confirmation of expert advice I read years ago. “80% of the things people worry about never come true!” That morning, to my great relief, the refund appeared on my account before the pending charge. As the worry rolled off me in a huge wave, I realized again, it had all been in vain.

Considering the anxiety I embraced for two full days and nights, I was not surprised to read that recent research that tracked 735 men for 20 years, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, reported that chronic anxiety can significantly increase the risk of a heart attack, at least in men.

So, chronic worry is unhealthy and may even increase the risk of heart attacks. But at what point does worrying become a problem?

At the 1988 Grammy Awards, "Don't Worry Be Happy" won 'Best Song of the Year'. Its message was good advice but often difficult to follow. And although most of us know that worry never changes anything, we still do it.

The truth is, there are valid things to worry about: For example, Aunt Suzy’s cancer; an excessive home or car repair bill; or your teenager who is hanging out with the wrong crowd.

Experts say, worry alerts us to some danger, in the form of anxiety. It is good to be anxious and concerned about certain situations, and then take the appropriate action to remedy the situation. Worry motivates us to do something that will bring resolution to the problem.

When worry becomes a problem in itself, is when it becomes a habitual way of living, an unending worry-go-round that serves no purpose but to rob us of our joy and peace.

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By Kathy A. Lewis. Copyright © 2008 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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