Monthly Musing – June 2013 – All in the mind
“Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of troubles, but empties today of strength.”
It’s quite true. Worrying can take over your life to the point where you hardly notice what’s going on around you because you’re so worried about something else which may or may not happen. I used to worry. Everyone worries, but I used to REALLY worry. I’d worry about half a dozen things at once, worry that I couldn’t keep track of what I was worrying about and then on the rare occasion that I had nothing to worry about, I’d worry that I wasn’t worrying about anything! It’s quite exhausting.
Luckily for me, my husband brought a book home from the library that he found quite by chance and thought I would enjoy reading (The Worry Cure by Dr Robert L Leahy in case anyone’s interested) and now I’m an ex-worrier. I discovered that I was a ruminator. I’d worry over something, round and round, creating wilder and more fantastic what-if disaster scenarios and things would never turn out as badly as I expected. I used to envy people who said through life apparently without a care in the world and think I probably took on their worries as well – just in case they weren’t worrying for themselves.
The trick for me was to think if I could do something about my problem. If I could, I needed to do it and if I couldn’t, I needed to find someone who could. It sounds simple enough, but if you’ve spent half your life worrying then it’s a hard habit to break.
So now, I’ve got my worrying under control. For lots of people, prayer or meditation is an aid to this, and it’s surprising just how those moments of calm when you shut out the outside world and stop the nagging voice that wants you to worry about everything can restore some perspective. Worry has its purpose too, of course; it can be the voice that gets you to get something checked out that you’ve been avoiding, or stops you from doing something that would end in disaster. The secret to it all is to control the worrying for yourself and not let it control you.
I’m meeting one of my best friends in London next week for a long-overdue catch-up and naturally I have one or two worries – will I catch the right train, will I get there on time, will I manage to get home in one piece – but I know now that worrying about it so far in advance won’t make any difference on the day. It will just spoil the anticipation of what’s going to be a lovely time and if there’s one thing that I have learnt, life is too short to spoil it by worrying about what-ifs.