by Joseph A. Galdon, SJ
Worry is often only unreasonable agitation of soul and mind. It is always a sign or a symptom of some special weakness of our character. Like cancer, worry can consume us unless we catch it in its early stages and take the proper medication: the psychological and spiritual cures.
Psychologist James Kenny says the best way to cure worries is to FLIRT. That's an amusing acronym, but it is also a very good piece of advice and it makes a lot of sense. If you want to stop worrying, you have to FLIRT. Our young people like that bit of advice. We old guys ought to like it too, because FLIRTing is good psychological help.
F in FLIRT means forget our past sufferings. Most of our worries stem from bad things that have happened to us. F also stands for fun. Kids like to play and have fun. That is why they worry less than we do. But our worries stem from bad things. But our worries will disappear if we have fun in life, too. Psychologists tell us our work should be fun and not a burden. We ought to do things we enjoy.
L in Kenny's acronym stands for laughter and smiles. A smile is a quiet emotion. Laughter is a more noisy emotion. But hoth will help us handle our worries. Kenny says
I stands for indulging yourself and doing things you enjoy. Instead of worrying, you can curl up with a good book, watch a nice TV/movie, or take a hot shower and then go to bed.
R stands for relaxation which means physical rest. One of the good ways to relax is to remember (R is also happy remembrance) happy events from the past, like the day you went to first communion, the day you graduated with honors, or the day you got married.
Kenny also suggests some psycho-physical relaxations for worry. He says you can solve your worries if you take a deep breath and imagine you are filling your lungs with peace and love. then let your breath out slowly. Imagine you are breathing out all your aches and pains and all your tension.
The T in FLIRT stands for talking with friends about your worries and troubles. When you are worried, call your friend and tell him what you are worried about. Sharing worries with a friend will always help cure our troubles. Kdnny says we are all subject to worries, but we don't have to be held captive by them. All we have to do is remember to FLIRT.
So how well can you FLIRT?