Knowing that someone you love is going through a hard time is one of the most difficult things to deal with. When something bad happens, or someone is disappointed, we feel that we would rather it be us that it had happened to, so that we could control the reaction to it, rather than watch on in a helpless way.

Worrying about others’ issues or happiness is an arguably pointless task, yet one that is common to many, and can be all consuming at times.

“I don’t think he really knows what to do with his life, I’m worried about him all the time.”

“Their relationship is up and down; I worry about what will happen if they break up.”

Are we lying awake thinking about our loved ones, telling ourselves that if we don’t spend time worrying, then we don’t care? Perhaps it would be more useful to objectify the situation, and acknowledge that our silent worrying isn’t likely to have a positive effect. Even if the person in question knows you’re losing sleep over them, it’s only likely to make them feel guilty.

Much better, I believe, to show these people that you care in other ways. Let them know you’re thinking about them. Be available to chat and, if appropriate, offer possible solutions. Spend time with them and make them laugh.

Don’t get me wrong, as a worrier myself I know it’s hard. But at the end of the day, you won’t have compromised your own mental health. Instead of silently stressing about a situation that is ultimately in another person’s control, your loved ones will know you care, and that you are there if they need you.

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