“Worry. Why do I let myself worry?”
Worry is something that affects us all, in greater or lesser amounts. But, obviously, lesser is best. Because the simple fact of the matter is that worry on its own serves no purpose, so there are only two positive ways to deal with it — either ignore it, or take action to beat it. Anything other than that lets the worry consume you and rob you of peace, happiness, and contentedness.
I recently took a flight with my husband and daughter. The last time we flew together felt like a stress test to see how far I could be pushed to the brink before finally falling off the sanity wagon. So, even though this recent flight was half the distance, I was still stressed out about how badly it would go. My ulcer flared up in the days leading up to departure, and I began to dread the family holiday we were taking. So much so that I just wanted to stay at home where it was “safe” and comfortable and I knew what to expect. My nights were filled with anxiety-ridden dreams and — totally out of character for me — I left my packing until the last minute. My waking hours weren’t consumed with constant conscious thoughts of it, but worry was clearly preying on my subconscious.
And then the day of departure arrived and I felt nauseous on the way to the airport. I kept thinking what a disaster the whole trip was going to be, and I began to resent my husband for looking forward to it so much. How could he be so laid back when I was so uptight? How could he look forward to something that was causing me so much fear? How could he seem so happy when our daughter was going to scream for 3 hours on a plane? How could he?!
And then we were at the airport and my daughter was delighted to have new things to look at and new places to explore. And then we were on the plane and she was mesmerised by the view out the window and the cartoons on the tablet we’d brought. And then we arrived and loaded up the rental car and she happily looked out the window, declaring, “Car! Motorbike! Bus!” as other vehicles passed. And then we arrived at our accommodation and she settled in like it was home.
And then I relaxed.
And I thought how pointless the past few days had been. How panicked the packing. How redundant the restless nights. How needless the worry. I had been mentally and physically torturing myself (ulcers suck) and for what? For a fear that never even materialised.
And even if it had been a nightmare and she’d screamed the entire time, what good would worrying have done? What would the worry have changed?
What difference has worrying ever made in your life? Did it change the outcome of the thing causing you to worry? Or did it just make your miserable? My guess is the latter. How often have you worried about something and worked yourself up into a state, only to find that it wasn’t nearly as bad as you thought? Or it never even happened at all? Worrying about the past or the future is a futile exercise that only serves to suck the joy out of the here and now.
Realise that worrying is pointless. It won’t make a blind bit of difference to your life, other than to ruin it. So either give yourself a mental slap in the face and move on, or think about ways you can reduce the worry. What action could you take to make the thing you’re worrying about more manageable or, at least, to distract yourself from it? If you’ve got a job interview, how can you be more prepared? If you’ve got an exam, how can you improve your study methods? If you’re in financial difficulty, what areas can you cut back in? If you’re worrying about something you’ve no control over, or something that may or may not happen, like a loved one getting ill, then direct your energy elsewhere.
Worry is always going to be a part of life, but wallowing in it doesn’t have to be. When you catch yourself worrying, ask yourself what good it’s doing. Is it serving you, or silently stressing you out? Will it change anything? What action could you take that actually will change something?
Don’t let worry wear you down and ruin your days. It serves no positive purpose, so banish it in favour of something more beneficial.
What are some of your top tips to stop worry in its tracks?
Photo credits for 1 and 2 above: Stuart Miles via FreeDigitalPhotos.net