Many of us learned the meaning of the word “triage” because we watched M*A*S*H. Every week, the doctors and nurses on our favorite TV show worked through the triage episode. Some patients could wait a while. Others were taken immediately to surgery while several unfortunates received last rites from Father Mulcahy.
The working definition of “triage” means “to assign the degree of urgency to a wounded or ill patient.” Even in today’s healthcare environment, triage nurses and doctors determine the priority of working with a patient, especially during crises.
Recently, I heard a phrase which caused me to stop and ponder its impact: Triage your worry bucket.
Most of us deal with one situation or another. Many of my friends are caring for an elderly parent or two while supporting a kid or two in college. Scores of people I know struggle with medical issues while others are trying to pay off debt and/or college loans.
All it takes is five minutes watching the news on any channel to know we are in serious trouble.
But what can we do about it? Triage the worry bucket.
Decide which issue is most urgent and deal with it first. Put everything else in the waiting room until you’re ready to bring it front and center. By that time, those secondary issues may have dissipated or won’t seem that important.
Most of the national and international issues are out of my control. I cannot do anything about them other than to educate myself so I’ll know how to vote in 2020.
My mother’s Alzheimer’s journey does not warrant any fresh worry. It is what it is. I’ve already worked through most of the grief. Only time will determine how it ends.
My son is an adult, and he makes his own choices. I’ve done my best to raise him, but I cannot control anything he does. So far, he’s being wise. No worries.
Health issues or crisis events can be troubling, depending on what happens. But I cannot worry today about what may or may not become a struggle during the next decade. I’ll triage that worry bucket when the time comes.
So what is on the priority list for my triage bucket? Recently, digestive issues. So I’m working with a doctor, taking my meds and trying to set boundaries around my food choices. Unfortunately, chocolate is NOT on the list.
A possible car purchase is on the horizon. No emergency, thankfully. Just trying to be conscious of the best deal and find something that will last for a while.
The problem escalates when our worry buckets overflow. We cannot make effective decisions when we’re overwhelmed.
But if we purposefully triage the worries and only allow the most urgent struggles to rise to the top, we can deal with whatever life hands us.
I often tell my Coaching clients to take “One microstep at a time.” The same holds true for the crises that pepper our lives.
So triage your worry bucket and live in the hope that one day, all your worries will cease.
©2019 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved
A life of faith helps defeat the overwhelming worry bucket. Check out Uploading Faith: What It Means to Believe.