Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Worries-those worrisome things

I wonder how many of you are like me, and can’t seem to shelve those “worrisome” worries? It seems no matter how good life gets we are all conditioned to worry. About something. Anything. Some little thing swimming around in the back of the mind.
I worry about my kids. They are all grown adults now—really adult!—but I still worry every day about them. I worry about my cats. Yes, my cats. I’m such a nut if I can’t find one of them in the house I go bananas. And really, they wouldn’t go outside if someone paid them so I know they are safe somewhere. But I have been known to spend at least a half hour nibbling my fingernails and look in every corner and under every piece of furniture until I discover the little stinker. And with three cats, there is always one to worry about.
I worry about each new manuscript. You’d think by this time I’d be able to chill a little, but the anxiety never goes away. Will my editor like it? But most of all will my readers like it? Will they buy it? Will they post good reviews?
I worry about my friends. So many of them seem to have been caught in some kind of crisis lately. I hate it when bad things happen to good people.
So I decided I needed to figure out how to deal with it all. I mean, you can worry yourself to death, right? But stopping isn’t that easy. Telling yourself not to think about whatever is bothering you never works. I remember a movie years ago where the defense attorney said to the jury, “Do not think of a blue elephant.” Well, every damn juror immediately began thinking of blue elephants. So that doesn’t work.
So I discovered there are actually some tips out there in cyberland to help you stop worrying—or at least deal with it.
1.                    Create a Worry Period. Set aside a few minutes each day to focus on what worries you. Make a list of, like me, you are a list maker. Decide if you can actually do something about each item. Concentrate on all aspects of it but then, put that worry list away fro the day. Stick it in a box in a corners of your mind and close that box.
2.                    Distinguish between those problems you can solve and those you can’t. If you can, devise a plan of action,. If you can’t, then put it on the worry list, give it its fifteen minutes of fame and force yourself mentally to focus on something else.
3.                    Embrace your feelings. Worries won’t just go away but they are so tied up with emotions. Allow yourself to be emotional-at least during your worry period—accept it for what it is and understand that emotions are part of you. Don’t be scared of being scared.
4.                    Finally, accept the fact that uncertainty is a part of life. You can’t make it go away but you can make a conscious decision not to let it rule your life. Take out the problem, examine it, do what you can and then put it away in that box in your mind.
None of this is ever going to help you stop worrying, but maybe, just maybe, we can all work to put worry in its place and move ahead with the pleasant things we can focus on. I’m going to try it. How about you?


  1. Thanks for this! I like that these suggestions start with acceptance of the situation and go from there. I'm always frustrated with advice that starts out by telling you to step way out of character. I'm particularly interested in the idea of a designated time to worry. I may indeed try that.

  2. First parts of #'s 2 & 4 sound doable, but- Ahhh… that I had such control over my mind. :>)

  3. The ones I can't solve are the worst. If they CAN be solved, I have some hope of doing it, but if they can't, if there are no good choices but I'm still required to act, that's the kind of worry that really fucks me up.

  4. Sometimes I think I should take up yoga or meditation - although the problem with meditating is my mind goes into hyper drive - the exact opposite of what it should be doing - so then I'd worry that I'm just no good at it!

  5. Thanks for some very practical advice. Actually, I use the divide and conquer method you suggest, separating out the stuff I might be able to control from the stuff that I can't. It does help.

    I know what you mean about the cats, though. Whenever we go out, we check to make sure we know where they are (we have two). One of them is black, so she can really be tough to find!