Don’t Be Like Sam

Photo by Nathan Cowley from Pexels

Photo by Nathan Cowley from Pexels

“There is an unreported epidemic of negative self-talk in our culture today.” – Cynthia Kane

Introduction 

According to Joseph J. Luciani Ph.D., worry is the incessant, ruminative speculation of what might go wrong—anticipation of chaos. Worry predicts that something will happen or go wrong (loss of control). 

Worry gives the illusion of control for a person who suffers from insecurity or fears. “If I worry, I can anticipate what’s going to happen, and if I can be rehearsed and braced, then I’ll be less vulnerable.”

On the surface, you think that worrying is going to reduce your vulnerability by preparing you for what’s coming. You have it all figured out. 

But, worry begets more worry, stress, and doubt. It doesn’t provide you with answers or solutions. Actually, it diminishes your ability to deal with the situation when and/or if it does arrive.

The following terms are characteristics of worry. It is:

Fiction.
Imagined.
Circular Thinking.
Destructive Thinking.
Anxiety, Stress, Panic.
Circumstances-Driven.
Insecurity-Driven.
Highly Emotional.
What-if Thinking.
Self-Destructive.

Concern,  on the other hand,  is a calculated consideration and assessment of actual danger. 

The following terms are characteristics of Concern. It is:

Fact-based.
Problem-Solving.
Adaptive.
Constructive.
Preparation for life’s challenges.

Concern turns to worry when insecurity is introduced.

Worry Statements vs.Concern Statements:

Worry: What if I can’t fit into that dress?
Concern: I’m going to have to watch what I eat if I’m going to fit into that dress.

Worry: What if I’m late?
Concern: I’d better leave fifteen minutes earlier to avoid construction delays.

Worry: What if she says no?
Concern: Whether she says yes or no, either way, I’ll survive.

Worry: This is a strange pain. What if it’s serious?
Concern: If I’m uncomfortable tomorrow,  I’ll call the doctor. No sense assuming the worst.

Don’t Be Like Sam

Connie told Gary, her coach, about a guy she remembered in the nursing home. She couldn’t remember his real name so she called him Sam. 

Sam was an unusual guy. He wasn’t sick, like most of the people in the nursing home, but he still needed looking after. He was old but not as old as some of the others. He was very strange. 

All the people in the nursing home had rooms inside the main house, except for two. There was an out build that was not connected to the main house. It had two bedrooms and a bathroom. At that time there were no cell phones. There were walkie-talkies, but dad was too cheap to put one in the outbuilding. He didn’t see any need for it. Supposedly, the guys that stayed in the outbuilding were capable of managing themselves. Supposedly!!!

Sam was the long-time resident of the outbuilding. He had lived there close to 10 years before the nursing home closed. He was, basically, on his own. He would go anywhere he wanted in town. He had to walk, of course, but get around town he did. 

One day Connie had ridden her bike downtown and saw Sam go into the soda fountain, so she jumped off her bike to see what he’d do. She had just parked her bike up against the front of the grocery store next door when she saw Sam come back out of the drug store. 

She looked twice because she had just seen him go inside. Then, she noticed he was carrying a glass of water. Now, she was really curious.

He walked to the curb. Poured some of the water over his hands, pulled a little bar of soap out of his pocket, and proceeded to scrub his hands, rinsing, and scrubbing several times. 

When he had used all of the water, he went back inside.

Connie was now so curious she just couldn’t help herself. She ran over to the drug store, to look in the front window. Even with her hands cupped around her face the sun was too bright and it was too dark inside for her to see, so she took a deep breath and walked inside.

She had planned on getting a candy bar next door, but instead, she got up on one of the stools at the bar and ordered ice cream. Her mission was to follow Sam and report back to control on his every, strange, move.

“Who gets a glass of water and scrubs their hands over the curb?” she wondered to herself. “Maybe he’s an alien from outer space.”

She ate her chocolate ice cream and side-eyed Sam.

He had a cloth, like a handkerchief, that appeared to be wet. After every bite of ice cream he’d put his spoon down, wipe his hands, the handle of the spoon, and his mouth with the wet cloth, then take another bite. He would also mutter something, but she couldn’t hear what he was saying.

She had to slow down or she’d be finished way before he was. She had to watch and listen. She was fascinated by this strange behavior. 

It was her mission to observe and report his activities, thoroughly convinced he was an alien on a private mission to earth. It was her job to determine why he was on earth, what his plan was, and what he was saying. She had surmised that he was reporting back to headquarters with his muttering, but she didn’t know. 

She finished several minutes before Sam, but she had to continue her surveillance so she walked over to the nick-nack selves where she could still keep an eye on him. The owner of the drug store walked over to her and ask if he could help her. She shook her head no.

“You’re on surveillance?” he asked.

She nodded.

“If you need any help, let me know,” he said with a little laugh.

Everyone had left the drug store except Sam, Connie, and the store owner, who went to the back room. 

It was quiet.

She could now hear what he was saying to himself after each bite.

Sam’s words:

“Be careful. Wash your hands thoroughly. The bugs will kill you.”
“You were bad last night. The bugs are after you.”
“You can’t do anything right.”
“If you’d been good you wouldn’t be stuck in this nursing home.”
“You’re so stupid.”
“I’m so bad.”
“If you’d just gotten that right years ago, you wouldn’t be here.”

Now, Connie was really puzzled. Why was he saying he was so bad? What did he do? Did he kill somebody? Was he trying to wash their blood off his hands?

“I did have a very wild imagination back then,” she laughed as she continued telling Gary the story.

“It sounds like typical insecurity and worry on Sam’s part,” Gary said. “It sounds like he had developed the habit of berating himself with negative statements and worry.”

“That’s basically what my mother said one time when I asked her about Sam,” she said. “I guess he had been a big-time rancher in the area, but his insecurities and worry caused him to make some very bad decisions which resulted in him losing everything. He didn’t really need care, like the others, but he needed a place to stay.”

From A Reader

One of my readers sent me his message about how he deals with worry:

Worrying has been a weakness that I have found myself wrestling with all my life. Depending on the situation at present, sometimes it is quite severe to just a slight worry. I usually find myself trying to take control of the situation in order to change the aspects that are concerning me in order to try and relieve the worry. Therefore, I have to try and guard myself against worrying since it is so easy for me to get caught up in it.

I have come to the conclusion that it is a war in my mind as to what I am going to spend my time thinking about and where my focus is. I usually do a few different things in order to combat the worry. My whole goal is to try and get my focus off the problem and the worry. First, I try to redirect my attention upon God. I access several means to accomplish this redirection. I lift up the situation in prayer. Also, I spend some time in God’s Word for His guidance. While in God’s Word I will also go back and reread verses concerning God’s promises of help and guidance as well as overcoming fear and doubt, such as Deut. 6:5-9,17-19, Joshua 1:6-9, Prov. 3:5-6, Eph 1, Ph. 4:6-7, Col. 1:9-23, Heb. 12:1-2. Additionally, I will confide in others, mainly my wife, so that we can lift it up in prayer collectively; where 2 or more gather in His name He is present.

This is not a set solution or a magical potion to get rid of worry, but these are meant to help one to expose worry and shift one’s focus from it. Sometimes the result is successful and other times it isn’t and the worry continues on longer. The enemy, Satan, wants to consume us in worry and get our focus off God. By utilizing the previous means, one can take action in trying to redirect one’s focus back to God. – Don

 

What Does God Say About Worry?

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”  Philippians 4:6

A paraphrase puts it, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers.”

Many of us would say, “No, I’m not worried. I’m just concerned.” 

Difference Between Worry and Concern

According to Dr. Harold J. Sala of Guidelines.org, there is a big difference between Worry and Concern. From the Biblical perspective, worry shut’s God out of the loop, stating that you are in control, you are capable of fixing the problem on your own with no help from God or anyone else. Unfortunately, though, worry doesn’t come up with a solution it only ruminates on the problem.

Dr. Sala states, “When you believe in and trust God then the word impossible does not exist. When you believe and trust that God is able to take care of the situation it changes. The scale shifts from worry to concern.”

Jesus said, “Do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or “What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?'” (Matthew 6:31

The difference between worry and concern is how you handle the situation. Concern leads to positive action, developing solutions to the problems or possible problems, whereas, worry is “What-If Thinking.” What-If Thinking isn’t necessarily a problem unless it becomes chronic.  It becomes a problem when it causes distress or interferes with a person’s ability to function, according to Simon A. Rego, PsyD, PsychCentral.org.

Sam, Over The Top

Sam had a roommate in the outbuilding, we’ll call him Fred. Sam didn’t pay much attention to him because he couldn’t get anything dirty because he was in traction for a broken leg. Connie continued her story with a grin on her face as she remembered the incident.

Fred, also, didn’t need to be in a nursing home, except for his broken leg. 

“It must have been a bad break because his cast went up above his knee,” Connie said. “Dad would get him out of bed and put him in a wheelchair and wheel him outside. He might have been the guy that Jack pushed down the road toward Deadwood. I don’t quite remember.

This one particular night  Fred decide he was tired of lying in bed with his leg in traction. He’d had enough. He had come up with a solution. If he pulled his body toward the head of the bed it would free his leg and he could get up. He had assessed the situation thoroughly, he thought. 

Fred could hear Sam in the room next to him pacing and ruminating on all his failures. He said later that he was so tired of listening to Sam’s muttering. 

He got a tight grip on the rails on each side of his bed and pushed as hard as he could. His foot did not come out of the traction, but it did seem to move some. He took a deep breath, got a tighter grip on the rails and pushed. He yelled as his head went through the bars at the head of the bed, but his leg was still in the traction.

Sam went running into Fred’s room, “Oh my, oh my, oh no, what are we going to do now?”

“Well, now you have something to yak about,” Fred said. “Help me get out of here.”

Sam pulled the bed out so he could get between the wall and the head of the bed and push on Fred’s head.

“Ouch, you’re going to rip my ears off,” Fred yelled as he started swatting at Sam.

Sam paced and paced. Fred stuck his hands between the bars to cover up his ears so he couldn’t hear Sam’s now increased muttering.

It was hours before dad took breakfast out to them. 

Sam heard dad approaching and opened the door, wringing his hands.

“Sam, what’s wrong?”

Sam pointed into Fred’s room. Dad set the breakfast tray on Sam’s table then went into Fred’s room.

“Fred, how’d you manage that?” Dad said.

“Just help me get out of here. I haven’t slept all night. To make it worse Sam hasn’t shut-up. I can’t stand it any more.”

Dad went to the head of the bed to assess the situation.

“Don’t push on my head. Sam tried that and like to of ripped my ears off.”

“I tried. I know it’s bad. It’s so bad. He’s going to lose his ears. I just know it,” Sam kept ruminating about the situation.

“Sam, go sit down and eat your breakfast,” Dad said.

“Oh, I can’t eat,” he said continuing to pace and wring his hands.

“Sam, you’re driving me crazy. If you don’t want to eat go outside and get some fresh air,” Dad said. “Yes, it’s a problem. I can’t think with you carrying on.”

“He’s going to lose his ears. I just know it. He’s going to lose his ears,” Sam continued.

Dad took him by the shoulders, shaking him a little, “Stop, your worrying. Your negative words are making things worse. Go outside. Yes, it is something to be concerned about. But it’s just a problem that needs to be solved. Has you worrying and muttering helped Fred any?”

Sam shook his head.

“Then go outside and let me think.”

Sam went outside but continued to pace and mutter.

Dad walked around the bed looking at the situation from every angle.  He checked Fred’s ears and looked to see if there was any clearance between his ears and the bedposts. He showed Fred concern for the situation, but he didn’t show worry like Sam.

“Fred, I have an idea. I’ll be right back. I have to get something.”

As he walked out Sam started in with his ruminations. “Don’t go in there, Sam. I’ll have him out in a few minutes.”

“But, how. You can’t get his head out…” Dad cut him off with a raised hand.

He came back out in a couple of minutes carrying a can of something.

Sam started to say something again, but Dad held up his hand for silence again. Dad walked to the head of the bed, took the lid off the can and started smearing something on Fred’s head and ears.

“What are you putting on me,” Fred asked.

“Lard,” Dad replied.

Sam stuck his head around the corner to watch but, this time didn’t say a word. 

When Dad got Fred greased up good, he positioned his ears so, hopefully, they’d slide through the bars. He gently pushed on Fred’s head and he slid painlessly through the bars.

Conclusion 

In the story, you can see the obvious difference between ruminations, worry, and just concern. 

Remember, life doesn’t just happen. Whether you are aware of it or not, your life was designed by you – carefully or careless designed by you. Where you are at this moment was your choice. You chose happiness, sadness, decisiveness, ambivalence, courage, fear, insecurity, success or failure. You also chose worry or concern.

Remember, worry is a habit that you learned as a child. Since it is learned, you can unlearn it. As you read in the post above From a Reader, it’s simple, but not always easy. Because it is a habit and in, most cases, it is deeply ingrained in the person, therefore, it takes work. 

Since the insecurity, worry, negative beliefs, etc. began in childhood, many tend to blame everything on their parents or grandparents, foster parents, or the family friend. But in order to break the habit of insecurity and worry, you need to be proactive about taking responsibility for your own life. Parents or caregivers are rarely perfect in their parenting. 

Step #1 Make the decision to take responsibility for your life, stop blame-shifting. It’s like blame-shifting has become an American Trademark in politics, sports, driving, just about any place you look. 

  • Whenever a negative thing happens in your life, instead of seeking to place blame. DO THE OPPOSITE. 
  • Seek to find a solution. 
  • Look for something positive in the situation.
  • Never blame shift for any reason, even if it’s deserved. Don’t Do It!!!
  • Never allow blame-shifting thoughts to enter your mind.

Step #2 Learn to take responsibility for your own behaviors and decisions. Remember it is your choice. You can choose how to design or redesign your life.

Step #3 Record your thoughts – Journaling, which is not just writing. I for one prefer to type. I have a journal on my Google Drive so I can access it from anywhere at any time on any device. Writing or typing is not the only way to journal. Use a voice recorder and record your thoughts. Use a camera on your phone, snap pictures and put them in a scrapbook with text to document your thoughts. Or be creative, as long as you record your thoughts so you can go back and when it’s time to analyze them. Here’s what you need to document:

  • What you are thinking?
  • What you are feeling?
  • What you are doing?
  • What is the worry good for?
  • Is it a benefit for me or does it hurt me?
  • Are your thoughts reality or assumptions?
  • What is going on in real-time instead of the future? 
  • What is the truth?
  • What is the Lie?
  • Replace the lie with the truth – DO THE OPPOSITE. Write it out. Repeat it.
  • What is actually happening in real-time, instead of a what-if?
  • What are God’s promises of help and guidance? 
  • What goes God’s Word say about overcoming fear and doubt?

Remember, worry is the habit of anticipating chaos or problems that have not happened. Usually, the worry habit and the attached thoughts go marching through your mind causing chaos, fear, and doubt. You don’t stop their march to scrutinize them. Are they serving you or harming you?

This habit seems to prefer the darkness rather than the line. So, stop their march. Shine the light on them. Expose them. Replace them with the truth – DO THE OPPOSITE.

After spending approximately 20 years as a programmer analyst working in both the private sector and county government, Dena Warfield returned to college earning a Masters Degree in Psychology and in Creative Writing. Since graduation, her main focus has been on marketing – Direct Sales, Copywriting, and Writing for the Web. She co-owned and managed a direct marketing company with her husband working, primarily, with local newspapers. She managed the business office, human resources, and helped with training and marketing. She also designed their company Web Site plus writing for other web developers. Dena’s years of business, computer programming, and writing have helped to focus her copywriting skills in the marketing arena. Whether she is writing content for websites, emails, brochures, catalogs, or direct-response her goal is increased traffic and sales to your site or business. Education Dena earned her Master’s Degree in Human Behavior and a Master’s in Creative Writing from National University in San Diego, California. She has also completed a certification program from AWAI (American Writers & Artists Inc., Delray Beach, FL.) with a focus in copywriting for the web. Author Dena has authored a self-help book designed to help people become aware of their negative thoughts and core beliefs that keep them from becoming successful. The techniques described in her book were used to help their sales rep to become more successful. Her book is currently on Amazon.com. She also enjoys writing Flash Fiction which can be found on her Facebook page, WarStories by Dena – Flash Fiction with a twist.

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