Bridge_of_Spies_posterI saw Bridge of Spies a few weeks ago and was struck by a recurring interchange between the attorney James Donovan and his client, Russian spy Rudolf Abel. At several moments of defining freedom or incarceration or life and death, Donovan (played by Tom Hanks) turns to Abel and asks “Are you worried?” to which Abel responds “No…would it help?”

I am a worrier by nature. I worry about people. I worry about situations. And, in reflection, I have to admit that the worrying has never helped, no matter how big or small the problem.

So what does help when a worry occurs? Here are five ways of responding that I have found helpful:

  1. Thinking through the facts from opinion.
  2. Isolating the problem (or whether there is one).
  3. Getting ideas to move forward (best ones often from non-worriers).
  4. Taking action or not doing anything.
  5. Relaxing into the reality that I am not in control of something.

Over my adult life, I have gotten better about not worrying. Or, maybe I am just better at directing my worry into a more fruitful activity. But, I don’t think I will ever eliminate the worrisome people and situations. So, I plan to keep the excellent question posed by Rudolf Abel front and center—would it help?