I suppose I’m writing this because I see a need. A part of me responds to those in need when I think maybe I can help. And I know there are chronic worriers out there; fretters, people who pick their lip in doubt about . . . future things. Lay awake all night with thoughts and worries coursing through their head like an endless cyclic chain of events – all of which may never come true.
Now I’m not claiming this to be an end-all, be-all, panacea for worry. That can’t be done; not with words. That has to come about internally – within yourself. And no, it’s not an intellectual realization; it’s a realization that goes deeper than that. Deeper even, I think, than an emotional realization. It comes from somewhere else. (The mind? The soul? The spirit? I don’t know. All I know is “I got it” – pretty much – some years ago.)
My mom is a chronic worrier. Actually, that is a pretty mild way of putting it. She worries about everything, anything – and nothing at all. She spends a lot of time worrying about things she can’t control. So does my brother. So did I – for a long, long time.
Worry is like an inept trying to peer into a cloudy – very cloudy – crystal ball. You can’t really see what’s there, so you wonder what its trying to show you. But the thing is: it can’t show you anything. Just some vague, dark clouds swirling about, suggesting images and courses of action. Its all guesswork there – and that’s something for you to realize: it’s only guesswork. And guessing – worrying about your guesses, whether they are correct or not – is a pretty useless thing to do, and it’s an emotional effort and expense, not to mention a waste of time. (and emotion. And effort. And even more emotion if it’s something you really care about that you are trying to predict a future to.)
I often tell my chronic worriers: make a plan. Stick with it. If something changes – then adjust your plan and move on. Don’t sit there second-guessing and wondering “what if?”. After all – you have a plan. Whether that be for the death of a sick friend (or you) – or the remission of their illness (or yours): have a plan. And QUIT second guessing. You know what you are going to do if this or that happens – so IF it happens, go to your plan. If something changes – change your plan. Don’t waste your time with “if’s”. There are enough “if’s” and “if onlys” in life to feed the world population a hundred times over. It’s often called ‘fate’ or ‘karma’ that ‘things’ happen. And they might (will?) happen to you. So what? It doesn’t matter – if you have a plan – and QUIT questioning your plan. That’s a firm commandment for me. Make a plan, keep a plan – and quit wondering about it.
Worry is one of the world’s most useless emotions. I think only those animals that can ‘see’ into the future, and realize that there can be different consequences depending upon their actions “worry”. There’s not many animals like that. Humans, if I recall, are the only ones I know who have been documented as doing this not only directly, but intentionally. Worry is driven by the desire to survive – ask yourself: is this gonna kill me? Probably not. Recognize the animal drive to survive – and its motivations – and make the decision. But make it your pet, and not your personality, okay? “You are not an animal!” (Quoting from the “Elephant Man” here.)
Know what you can change – then make a plan. Know what you cannot change: and make a plan. Or if you are like me – don’t worry about it. I’ll deal with ‘it’, whatever ‘it’ is when it comes up. Until then: I simply refuse to think about it, except in a humorous, abstract sort of way. (So WHAT if the sea level rises? Then my time-share down at the beach will be beneath the waves. Population will move inward. So what? I care – but worry? No. I’ll deal with it when it — or they – get here.)
Sometimes I wonder if people don’t have enough emergencies in their life. Is that why they worry: making ’emergencies’ in their life (however imaginary) – so they have something to worry about? I don’t know. I’ve had enough ’emergencies’ of my own; I don’t need to make more by ‘worrying’ about it. (Whatever ‘it’ may be.) Making up imaginary ’emergencies’ for me to deal with if just NOT a fun exercise. I’d rather exercise my mind doing something else more productive — like, say, writing this in hopes of helping YOU. (One of the best examples of this ‘making up emergencies’ is my brother, mother, and dad — who worry that I don’t worry enough about things. Like that’s a PROBLEM? Poe-leeeze! Okay, laughing till I’m choking here — but I’m not going to worry about it. And laughing some more.)
The ultimate worry – and I can’t help but laugh softly at this one, because I’ve had it before – is worrying that you worry too much. That’s a definite sign you need to do some mental adjusting. When you find yourself worrying about worrying – that’s a sign you are hanging over the edge, peering off the cliff of anxious anxiety, and you’ll probably find yourself a victim of some anxiety attacks with this one. If not the worry about being worried, then the other worries that hound you.
Remember: you know what to do when things come up, bad things as well as good things (is the caterer going to be on time? But – what’s it matter? No one is actually STARVING here?) There’s a lot of things we worry about that make no difference one way or the other (what will the neighbors think about THIS color or THIS color or THIS one? Does it matter? Pick the one YOU like – and don’t let their opinions define you.)
Worry. A crystal ball with no end and no definitive answers. All it does is make you ask questions about yourself, and what you are going to do. But you already KNOW what you are going to do: You are going to do the best that you possibly can, given the circumstances at the time. Nothing more, nothing less.
And realize this: everything turns out. One way or another — it turns out. “Most of the things I worried about through my life never came true.” That is a quote from a chronic worrier who was on their deathbed, as I recall. They were sort of regretful about it — but it ‘worked out’ — because they died. Everything, even the ‘bad’ (or what I call ‘interesting’) things work out, one way or another. If it is: so be it. If not: so be it again.
Worry. It’s up to you.
Now — put that crystal ball up, forget about it — and quit worrying. Okay? :o)