It takes all kinds to make the world go round and god knows the place would be very dull if we were all the same but I really do think if we could all try to worry a bit less, we might be doing ourselves a big favour.
Worry I’ve learned is all relative. I never considered myself a worrier and would be known in my family generally as the calm one. That was until I met my husband who is beyond laid back and thinks I am a huge worrier. But that was until he met his now mother-in-law, who is in a different league altogether and worries if she thinks she doesn’t have enough to worry about.
I was talking to my sister recently who told me that after she’s gotten past her current set of worries, she is then going to start worrying about what would happen after that. She is literally teeing up her worries and scheduling them in. She’s going through a lot at the moment and I understand where she is coming from but in the most empathic sense possible, surely this can’t make sense can it?
Where exactly is all this worrying getting us and why do we do it to ourselves? The thing with worrying is that we always imagine the worst case scenario; “I’ve definitely failed that exam and how will I ever get promoted? I definitely won’t get a raise, and how will I ever get a mortgage?” It’s rare that we imagine a good outcome. All this worrying about something that hasn’t happened yet is really quite damaging. It zaps our energy, it causes us sleepless nights and steals away our ability to focus on positive things. By constantly looking at some future event that may or may not happen, we’re missing what’s happening today. That’s a difficult treadmill of a habit to stay on, but it can be equally hard to step off. Worriers believe they are worriers as if it’s some sort of fixed fact, like having blue eyes. They genuinely don’t think they can change and so make no attempt to. Or they don’t want to change, they feel that past events justify why they worry today. And that’s fine too.
But if you’re a ‘worrier’ and would like to change your ways a bit, here are some tips:
- Have a rule where you let yourself have a good old worry for a set time (10 mins say), which could include talking to a loved one about whatever it is, and then when the allotted time is up, choose to stop. Just stop. Set an alarm if you have to. This gives you an outlet for worrying but keep things in perspective by limiting it.
- After your specific worry time, spend the same amount of time focusing on what you can control and influence in your current situation. What steps you can take to improve things and when you commit to taking those steps. Commit to following through on those steps.
- Make sure you plan your ‘worry’ time for some time during the day. Not first thing in the morning and not last thing at night. Otherwise you start your day off on the wrong note or you’re in for a sleepless night.
- Write down everything that you come up with to worry about, highlight whether it has actually happened or you just worry it will happen and write down everything that you can control with your timeline for auctioning it. Re-read both together when you’ve finished the exercise. Share it with someone you trust if that feels right.
- Watch your language. Many of us have a natural flair for the dramatic when articulating our worries “I’ll be killed if I don’t get to work on time” (highly unlikely unless you work for the mafia) versus “If I don’t get to work on time my manager may have a word with me about it”
Dramatic language is the fuel of worry. Stick to the objective facts and don’t embellish.
Ps as I was writing this I worried that I had written the word ‘worry’ too many times, and went back to count and edit, but then stopped. Life’s too short!