Once upon a time a psychology professor was teaching a lecture on how to live a happier life. She raised a glass of water and everyone expected they’d be asked the typical “glass half empty or glass half full” question. Instead, with a smile on her face, the professor asked, “how heavy is this glass of water I’m holding?”
Students shouted out answers ranging from eight ounces to a couple pounds. She replied, “From my perspective, the absolute weight of this glass doesn’t matter. It all depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute or two, it’s fairly light. If I hold it for an hour straight, its weight might make my arm ache a little. If I hold it for a day straight, my arm will likely cramp up and feel completely numb and paralysed, forcing me to drop the glass to the floor. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it feels to me.”
As the class shook their heads in agreement, she continued, “Your stresses and worries in life are very much like this glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and you begin to ache a little. Think about them all day long, and you will feel completely numb and paralysed – incapable of doing anything else until you drop them.”
When we keep our stresses and worries inside they become bigger and bigger until they become unbearable. When we talk about them instead they can feel lighter or are ready to be dealt with.
Although it is very human to worry and it may be hard to stop, it doesn't have to become paralysing. So if the problem isn't something you can do anything about, and worrying isn't going to make the situation any better, maybe it's time to let it go.