I think it’s possible to live with a bit of worry without it taking over your life.
And that’s the thing with worry and anxiety and fear,
Little doses of the stuff can actually work in your favour.
It’s when worry becomes your main thing that you can find yourself in a very dark corner of a tiny room with no way out.
It’s like the fight or flight response.
You need fear to activate certain processes that at times could potentially save your life.
Elizabeth Gilbert, in her refreshing book Big Magic – Creative Living Beyond Fear, says it this way…
…if you didn’t have any fear, you would lead a short, crazy, stupid life. You would walk into traffic. You would drift off into the woods and be eaten by bears. You would jump into giant waves off the coast of Hawaii, despite being a poor swimmer. You would marry a guy who said on the first date, “I don’t necessarily believe people were designed by nature to be monogamous.
I think worry is the same.
A little bit of worry is healthy.
It can keep you out of trouble.
It can protect you from impending dangers.
The trick is to put boundaries on worry.
There are times when Worrie’s voice needs to be shut down.
Like when you go to bed.
Turn the dial right down to zero and give yourself permission to ignore it.
I’m trying to think about the daily things I worry about…
I reckon they fall into a few main categories:
Kids – are they healthy, are they happy, are they getting educated, am I as a mum giving them every opportunity to fulfill their potential?
This is a big one.
I must admit, this one probably takes up most of my ‘worry pie.’
I don’t know.
Maybe it’s because when my kids are happy, I’m happy.
As a mum all you want is the best for your kids.
You want them to go further than you and to have a wonderful life, free from any of the things that weighed you down as an adult.
This is definitely an area I need to put my worry boundaries in place more than other areas.
I tell myself in a strong tone frequently,
‘Don’t worry, this will pass. They will grow out of it. There’s a solution for this problem. A C grade isn’t the end of the world. One good friend is better than no friends. They are healthy. Eating a bit of white bread won’t kill them.’
I remember when my kids were in nappies and I was obsessing over whether or not they were getting enough sleep or a balanced diet…
Time passes so quickly and now I’m on the other side where my children are all at school and the issues I can potentially worry about are different.
My point is, there will always be something to worry about.
Choose what issues you turn your attention to and filter out the rest.
It’s ok not to have perfection in this area.
Kids, heck life, is messy, so don’t worry about every little thing.
I think this one goes through seasons.
Every marriage has patches where it’s tougher than others or where it’s blissful.
Are your worries on this front legitimate?
Many couples I know take time out every now and then to go to counselling.
Don’t ignore worries in this area because your happiness depends on it.
Let’s face it, spending your whole life with the same person is going to have its moments,
So be kind to yourself!
Put worry in its place and follow your intuition if there’s something that’s signalling danger.
Health & Diet – what I eat, what my family eat, how my body is – am I struggling with any major or minor health issues (a big one for us girls).
Yeah, it’s ok to worry about this one.
But put it in perspective.
Don’t sit on aches and pains if your body isn’t used to having them.
Go get help.
See a doctor or a naturopath or whoever you need to.
As we get older, our hormones and our bodies change.
Uggghhhhh, aren’t we lucky?!
Will I will put on weight if I eat Krispy Kremes every day?
Should I worry about it?
Well yes, if I don’t want to become rotund….
I’m choosing healthier food options lately because my body needs to be working at optimum capacity in order to do all I need to do.
The Future/Past – includes money, house, plans, goals, dreams.
Do I have regrets?
Is there anything I can do about them?
Worrying about things past is a big no no.
It will suck up your emotional and physical energy and spit you out with very little left for the present.
Use your strong internal voice again in these moments and speak to worry as you would a burglar who’s shown up in the wrong house,
You’re not welcome here! Get out of my house.
Don’t let regret take your worry.
Give it to legitimate things like your present…
Do I worry that I won’t have enough money to go on that holiday that I pre-booked last year because Qantas had a crazy good sale on and I thought on a whim that taking my family of 5 for a trip to the US was a good idea?
Is this legitimate and should I listen to that voice?
Yes, unless I want to come back with a massive debt that I’m going to have to pay off for the next five years!
So I use this healthy dose of worry to put an action plan in place.
I use boundaries and I manage my worry so that I control it and it doesn’t control me.
Which is why I’m going back to work to save.
It’s ok to listen to the voice that speaks into your future and whispers that unless you do certain things you won’t get the best outcome.
Or as Liz Gilbert says, if you don’t entertain fear every now and then, ‘ you’d live a short, crazy, stupid life.’
And none of us want to do that do we?
So put worry in its place.
Put some healthy boundaries over your worry.
Prioritise the real concerns (write them down if you have to) and then ignore the rest.
Don’t mess with real issues like your health and primary relationships.
Don’t be ignorant when it comes to the future and planning for success.
But let me say in the same breath,
Don’t become obsessive about things that will be here one day and literally be gone the next or about things you can’t control.
Learn to switch it off when convenient for you.
Take a holiday from it.
Then come back to it and tell it who’s boss.