Worry and Stress: Be Careful What You Borrow

The public library is something you take for granted, until you don’t have one. We once lived in a very small town, and the nearest library was in another city miles away. We shopped for groceries once a week in that city and planned our library trips then. The problem was that the library had extremely restrictive policies for borrowers who lived outside of their county. We used to joke about feeling like “out-of-county scum.”

Fortunately we now live in a small city with a great library. It’s considered a treat to go to the library, and whoever has their week’s schoolwork finished by lunch on Friday gets to accompany Mom on the trip. Everyone browses, enjoys the facilities and checks out their books.  We load the library basket and drive home, everyone poring over their finds in the backseat.

Borrowing books at the library is convenient and inexpensive. Until we lose track of time and rack up library fines. We have a cool internet reminder system, Library Elf, but somehow days can pass and we don’t make the trip back across town. Twenty-five cents per book per day adds up fast!

At that point, borrowing books doesn’t seem like such a good idea.

There’s something else we borrow that isn’t in our best interest. It’s something that we borrow often, usually without realizing it.

First, let’s set the stage. Thoughts in your brain cause the release of chemicals. The type of thoughts, toxic or life-giving, determine the type of chemicals. The chemicals are like little cellular signals that create emotions. You can “feel” what you’re thinking through your body’s reactions to the chemicals.

One way that toxic thoughts and the resulting effects are triggered is when we respond to something that doesn’t exist except in our imagination.

We worry and fret and create mental pictures of what might happen. We borrow trouble from the future that hasn’t even happened.

Our nervous system can’t tell the difference between a real experience and one that we imagine. Have you ever been startled by someone jumping out at you from a hidden spot? You weren’t really in danger but your body immediately, physically responded to the imagined danger.

We automatically respond physically to our imagined worries as if they are happening right now. Our throat constricts, our heart rate speeds up and our muscles tighten. Then our thoughts race ahead and the cycle starts again….over something that isn’t actually happening!

The next time you realize that you are borrowing stress from future imagined worries, bring yourself back into the present. Live emotionally in “right now.” Stay aware of where you are and what is actually, really happening now.

Borrowing books at the library can be an enriching, educational experience. Borrowing trouble and worry from the future is neither. If you don’t take books back on time, you have to pay a fine. Fretting about things that haven’t even happened costs you, too.


  1. Theresa Wagar says:

    Thanks for sharing your words of wisdom, Charlotte. With graduation coming up, it was a good reminder to me to focus on the task at hand for the day . . . and not stress about all those other tasks needing to be done before family shows up in 4 weeks. You are a blessing!!!

    Theresa 😎

  2. Thanks for the encouragement!

    Your children are beautiful! Glad to hear your husband is doing better.

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