Endless Worrying Helps No One


By Sarah Cunningham | Twitter: @sarahcunning

Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow.
It empties today of its strength.
—Corrie Ten Boom

Moody_800Here is a quick and easy trick to limiting the impact of worry and frustration, or of most bad feelings in general.

Hold yourself to a five minute per day limit.

What that person did to you. What that camp has said or believed about you. How this or that place or people is failing you.

Five minutes. Think it over. Try to get to the bottom of it.

Pray it up. Try to eagle eye a solution.

Then cut yourself off.

Refuse to give any bad more than a few minutes of your time. You have not pledged allegiance to forces that harm you. You do not owe them your whole day. You do not owe them a good night’s sleep. You owe them nothing!

Do not allow those who seek to harm you or experiences that have weighed you down to take control of more than five minutes. Stake your personal flag, bearing the crest of Jesus, in the rest of your life and claim it for what you do live for.

Don’t give up that mental territory.

Take those thoughts captive.

Sure, there might be some guiding conversations that you have with mentors or loved ones that help you plunge the depths of your soul looking for wisdom or healing. But when you’ve said all you’ve had to say and heard out the voices you respect, then stop talking about it.

Don’t let ill will dominate more than five minutes of your conversation. Vent, self-express, but don’t indulge. Don’t go deep sea diving in the Mariana Trench of all that’s wrong.

Speak it out loud if necessary. Phew, I got that out of my system but I promised myself I wouldn’t give my energy to things that subtract from my life.

But hardship isn’t just inflicted by a person, you say. It’s the nature of life itself. It’s grief, it’s loss.

Yes, the world hurts and skews things so bad sometimes.

Five minutes.

What does worrying more than that accomplish? If something is deep inside you so bad, if it’s scarred you and wrecked you, it’s probably outside your control. Is it not?

So if you had to choose between investing five minutes of your life that will accomplish nothing, and hours upon hours that will accomplish nothing, which do you choose?

For the good of all, if you insist on wasting more than five minutes of your time doing something that accomplishes nothing, then at least put the time into some sort of nothingness that’s enjoyable.

Stare off into the ocean, lose yourself in the blue sky, wander off in the planets. Breathe deeply.

Time is finite. It’s the one thing we all wish we had more of. It should be among the resources we steward most astutely.

It’s poor care taking to permit your mind and mouth to waste your time and energy. So again, we set our minds on things that are good, noble and of well report. Once more, we calibrate ourselves to good things.


For more of Sarah’s thoughts on staying sane while doing good, check out her newly released book The Well-Balanced World Changer.

[**And we get to give away TWO copies!** Share your thoughts in the comments and we’ll enter your name into a draw for a copy of Sarah’s book.]


About Sarah:

Sarah CunninghamSarah Cunningham is an idea junkie who blogs about creativity and collaboration. In addition to writing books, she happily sinks her imagination into events and projects that attempt to stir extraordinary things in a sometimes too-ordinary world. In her latest book The Well-Balanced World Changer Sarah writes about how to stay sane while doing good.

You can connect with Sarah on her blog, on twitter and on facebook.

  • Stephanie

    I really needed to read this today. I’ve been wallowing in my insecurities and having a total rantfest. It’s easy to dwell on the negative aspects of things and life and people. But this is so true: “Time is finite. It’s the one thing we all wish we had more of. It should be among the resources we steward most astutely.” Thanks for this reminder and challenge!

  • Sarah

    A passion, desire, urgency to change the world and make it a better place literally oozes out from every part of me. But so often, too often, worry and anxiety also accompany this. Am I doing enough? Am I doing too much? Am I doing the right things? Does this or that person think i’m wasting my time? Thanks for the amazing reminder that in our deep calling to be world changers it is not about us but about Him who has already done it! Thanks for stopping my constant google-searches for the next possible solution to my worries and turning my attention to what’s true and righteous and beautiful (and the beautiful blue sky outside!)

  • I find it incredibly useful to take five minutes to rant… and then move on. The act of airing what grieves me often makes me realize how trivial it is in the first place. Great thoughts on limits Sarah- thank you.

  • Cathy

    Excellent advise. Sometimes worry will consume us to the point of not being able to function. We need to process the reason behind worry and give it away to our God who will accept and deal with the issue.

    • fiona lynne

      Cathy, you’re our second book winner!! Can you send us your home address by email (shelovesmagazine @ gmail.com) and we’ll have your copy sent out to you. Happy Reading!

  • Claire

    This is one of those lessons that if I could truly learn it it would radically alter my life.

  • Janine Fleming

    Very good advice. There are some days when worry can be paralyzing. I need to practice this.

  • Karen

    What a Wonderful idea!

  • Bev Murrill

    Fantastic advice, Sarah. Why let someone who doesn’t even have our best at heart, direct the way we use the minutes and hours of our days. You’ve put this so well.

  • Anna

    I was worrying up a storm this morning and talk about perfect timing! Thank you for the words of wisdom and this: “Stake your personal flag, bearing the crest of Jesus, in the rest of your life and claim it for what you DO live for.”

    Five minutes of worrying/venting and now I’m done! Thank you, Sarah:)

  • I love that you are saying we should allow ourselves to feel the feelings. I just did that for 25 mins this morning.

    Now I’m off to stare at the blue sky for five mins before getting on with my day.

    This is brilliant, Sarah.

    Thank you.

  • “Don’t go deep sea diving in the Mariana Trench of all that’s wrong.” – I used to do this a lot. Now I’m trying to catch myself on the shore. I really needed to hear this today, thank you 🙂

    • fiona lynne

      Morag, you’re one of our two winners!! YEY! Send us your home address (shelovesmagaine @ gmail.com) and we’ll have one of the books sent to you 🙂

  • Louise

    Powerful words Sarah. Do we spend 5 minutes accomplishing nothing or many hours…. Simple but groundbreaking. Yes, Jesus wants us look through his lens at our lives. I hope you all have a remaining blue sky watching week xx

  • Rachel

    Thank you, Sarah, for sharing your wise words. I always look forward to your posts!

  • Brandi Goff McElheny

    Love this! Great reminder and the book looks great. Loved her post on RHE’s blog today too!

  • I love the thought of “cutting myself off.” I can be a worrier, like Martha, worried and perplexed about many things and I have a hard time turning off my brain.
    I’m going to try this limit and see what happens!

  • Laurin Werner

    A really lovely post! I think we often worry because we despair and don’t know what else to do. We feel out of control. But we can take control in a healthy way by limiting ourselves to five minutes of bad a day. What hope!

  • Thank you for joining us here, Sarah! Thank you for being a World Changer.

  • Wendy

    great post! always good to continue to learn how to manage my worry and anxiety and keep it at bay