What? Me Worry?



When was the last time you worried over a situation so long and hard, that you succeeded in turning it around, changing the outcome, or banishing it into oblivion? Hopefully you’re being honest and said NEVER, otherwise I’d be forced to say you’re completely up-to-your-eyeballs-full-of-baloney s***.

I know this because I once carried a Masters Degree in worry and was well on my way to a PhD.  Not that I actually aspired to such honors — it was more a matter of accepting the award with a smile and a handshake since I’d worked so hard to earn it.  In retrospect I would’ve been wise to refuse it, but that’s the thing about hindsight, it’s always so much more defined when you’re looking back from a distance of time passed.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy … Ah, what a concept.  But where are the instructions? How exactly do we transfer the song lyrics over into real life, where angst and concern are so often the flavor of the day?

It starts in childhood, this penchant for worry, and it takes on strength with every growth spurt. By the time we reach adulthood, we’re full blown worrywarts and what-if-aholics; piling worry on top of worry, where they will subsequently mate and breed, producing enough crazy ideas to paper a padded cell.

It’s a fact that worry, left alone to mingle with imagination, will often conceive an abundance of worrisome thoughts masquerading as rational concerns. It becomes all to easy to convince ourselves that the school bus driver  is a recently paroled ax murderer, or that the real reason hubby’s plane hasn’t arrived on time is because it’s at the bottom of the North Altantic …

Yes, of course, all worry does not come from a place of irrational paranoia, and there are legitimate instances when logic and worry collide with the force of continents dislodged, all for good reason. But even in the midst of genuine crisis, it’s helpful to keep in mind that worry is not so much to be ignored as it is to be mastered.  After all, worry loses a good deal of it’s potency if you refuse to feed it kick it in the butt and run away.

It’s not always easy to let go of our human tendencies to worry, but I’ve learned a few absolutes:

*Worry will not dissolve the traffic jam and get you to your doctor’s appointment on time.

*Worry will not increase your test scores

*Worry will not help your child make the team

*Worry will not get your book, blog, or synopsis written

*Ditto, Worry will not make reviewers, readers, or editors stand-up and cheer once you do

*Worry will not remove cellulite, excess weight, or a bad hair day

*Worry will not end wars, pay the  mortgage, or get you to the church on time

The fact remains that worry doesn’t solve problems, in as much as it allows them to grow to stifling proportions.  The result of which does little more than cripple us from action, or in many cases, to expend abundant energies running in the wrong direction.  It’s not always easy, but the thing to do is grab this gremlin by the scruff of the neck, and wrestle it off it’s pedestal.  Troublesome little  monster never should’ve been up there anyway.

True confessions–Yes, I am a recovering worrier. How about you?

25 thoughts on “What? Me Worry?

  1. I’m a recovering (slowly) worrier. These days, when I start worrying about something, I try to imagine the worst likely scenario. (key word, “likely”). It seems counterintuitive, but usually, if I really look at the worst case, its generally something manageable. Once I realize that even if the worst thing happens I’ll be OK, then I can let the worry go. (and usually, the worst case doesn’t happen. not even close.)
    Great post!

    • And boy oh boy, but isn’t it so easy to fall back into those old worry habits if we’re not careful! There are days I still have to wrestle the worry-itis to the floor and step on it until it stops breathing, but unlike Chicken Little, at least I’ve come to the conclusion that the sky isn’t really falling 🙂

  2. Actually, I’ve never been a worrier 🙂 It’s not that I am never concerned about stuff but I have this ability to hand my worries off to a higher power and put it out of my mind. I just never saw the need to fret over things you can’t control 😀

    • Beautiful, Shay! I love your confidence and wisdom in saying that you “hand my worries off to a higher power and put it out of my mind.” That’s precisely my thinking when I pause long enough to access the “crazy”, rather than allowing the imagined drama to run away and grow out of proportion. Perfectly said 😀

  3. I inherited my mom’s worry gene and made good use of it for many years. I’m in the recovery phase but I admit to falling off the wagon occasionally. Old habits die hard, and some can’t die soon enough. Thanks for the reminder that this one gets us nowhere!

  4. That darned worry gene! Two thumbs-up on your assessment of the resilience of Old Habits. And why is it that the habits we least want to hold onto are the ones so difficult to shake? Whatever the reason, I just refuse to WORRY about it! Catch you at the next recovery meeting, Elaine 😀

  5. This is awesome, Barbara! “What-if-aholics”–I like it. So true, sometimes. I think prayer is the process of turning worry into trust — I know without it I’d certainly deserve the Worry Ph.D. 🙂

    • Thank you, Alina! Yes, oh yes, but definitely, prayer changes everything. As long as we remember to reach out and grab onto that lifeline, rather than giving into the strange temptation to grind and gnash our teeth as our imaginations run wild.

    • Thanks for coming by and sharing your thoughts, Elaine 🙂
      Having generational worriers on the family tree certainly ups the challenge of stomping out our tendencies to worry ourselves silly, doesn’t it? Sometimes it’s just a matter of changing tactics–slamming the door shut as soon as you notice that troublesome little stinker skulking around.

  6. Worry is my middle name, my overactive imagination never stops and with the scenarios it manages to conjure some days my worrying actually makes me ill!

    Got this level of never ending “paranoia” from my Mom, she worries more than anyone I have ever known.

    Barbara you are right worry does not make any situation better but sometimes when the things you worry about actually happen you are better prepared to handle it. Sometimes, not always of course.

    • Hee hee hee, I’m seeing a pattern here and it begins with M-O-M-S! The truly bizarre thing, is how we might know where we’re picking up these stagnant tendencies, see them for what they are, and YET it’s still such a hard habit to break. Logic and reason feels so much smaller when your child is out past curfew and you all at once hear the ambulance racing off in the distance, or your car doesn’t on a dark rainy night and you’re 5 miles from home … even then, worry will never ever be a problem solver!

  7. I used to say to people that ‘worry’ is my unofficial middle name. I do worry a lot less nowadays (let’s face it – life’s too short to keep your mind churning with worry day and night), but sometimes I do find that worrying about something and devising the worst possible scenario/outcome to a situation might just mean that you breathe a bigger sigh of relief when it doesn’t eventuate 🙂

    • “… life’s too short to keep your mind churning with worry day and night.”

      Amen, Maria! You’ve mentioned one of the true benefits of pausing long enough to see the big picture. It’s one of the greatest compensations of passing yet one more birthday — Wisdom starts to kick-in and we pay more attention to certain truths that have been there all along, but nevertheless invisible to as yet inexperienced eyes.

    • Lol, I know, right!!

      How blessed we are that there’s someone infinitely LARGER than the scenes we tend to orchestrate. And unlike us with all our shenanigans, He really does know what He’s doing 😀

  8. Oh, my–you know who I am. This line really caught my essence: “The real reason hubby’s plane hasn’t arrived on time is because it’s at the bottom of the North Altantic”
    I learned much too late in life to tell myself, “I don’t have to worry about that now.” Prioritizing worries makes them easier to handle. Thank you! (But I’m still worried about why my husband hasn’t called yet.

    • Hi Jane! thanks for visiting.

      Humm…Just wondering what it would have been like if we were all together on the Titanic! Would an overactive tendency to worry land us directly into a lifeboat? Or back in the cabin trying to prove we’ve conquered our penchant to worry?

      Btw, would it be wrong to have husbands implanted with a chip? Just wondering 🙂

  9. lawdy! So am I. I still sometimes catch myself with the “hand wringing” but I’ve learned to derail those thoughts.

    And I just had a recall of something I’d forgotten! I was a literal hand-wringer! I used to wring my hands so bad that one day my boss said something about it, and I thought “wait, I do that a lot?” yup, I did. So every time I wrung my hands, or started to, I’d make myself stop. I do the same with the racing thoughts (well, most times :-D).

    • Isn’t it just the funniest thing when we’re doing something–and often–yet don’t realize it until someone tells us how crazy we’re making them! What’s more, if I had a dollar for every time I told my nearest and dearest to calm down and stop worrying over something or another, I’ve have more than enough $$$ to pay for a year of “Worry-Management” therapy for myself, lol!

      • When I was a child, I would often “list” my worries – I mean, I’d be going la la la tee dah around all carefree and then would actually think “What do I have to worry about?” and then think about all the crap I had to worry about . . . then I’d be all hand-wringy – lawd!

      • Lol, but aren’t we human beings just so terribly odd? We seem to have this idea that it’s just not okay to go skipping about happy and carefree.”Nope, it’s just far too sunshiny and clear skied today. There has to be some pile of baggage and left behind junk I can find to pick up and drag around …”
        I used to do that very thing–root around for something to take the bloom off the rose–the moment my eyes opened in the morning. Pitiful. It takes some training to change old habits, but jeezaloo, it’s well worth the trouble.

  10. Pingback: Hiking the Blogosphere: From A Life Among Thorns to The Land of Ish « Elaine Smothers

  11. Wow, you hit a nerve with this one, Barbara. I thought I had discovered the perfect mental tool for banishing worry. I was told to visualize a trash can, then take the lid off and, in my mind’s eye, put my worries in and shut the lid. Whew, what a relief! But do you know how good I got at sneaking back up on that darned can and snatching those worries right back out again? 🙂

    Someone (probably Oswald Chambers) said that worry and faith cannot co-exist. I prefer to think it’s a blend and that I’m always working on tipping the balance towards faith.

    Great post.

    • Hi Elizabeth! Thanks so much for stopping by :-). Isn’t it something the way we jut out our chins, pull up our bootstraps, and dust off our palms, so determined to ditch the things we know that serve no purpose, but then, as soon as the sun goes down we’re out there with a flashlight rooting around in the trash in order to reclaim it. Alas, it seems that human nature is forever at war with wisdom gained. And yet, maybe that’s a good thing in some ways, as it keeps us constantly aware and purposeful in our determination to reclaim faith again and again, in a way that serves to make it stronger.

      I hope you don’t mind my linking your post here. It is so excellent, and has been on my mind ever since seeing it yesterday: http://www.heartspoken.com/2012/03/connection-through-tragedy/
      It’s just beautiful and so very moving. I’m sincerely hoping everyone has a moment to stop over and have a look.

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