Sometimes I worry. I worry about little things like whether the milk will last for tomorrow morning’s coffee. I worry about medium things that are out of my control, like the weather. I worry about big things like how the people I love are dealing with their various issues, and what is happening in the world. See how, to me, world peace and my family’s lives are equally important? Can’t help that…
I don’t feel unease all of the time,obviously, or I would not be able to function. In fact, most of the time I am able to shut off the anxiety by telling myself with utter confidence that everything will be fine and this too shall pass. But sometimes I worry. It doesn’t help. What it does is rob me of sleep, and of my good reasoning faculties. It is a useless emotion since it does not motivate me to make changes due to the fact that when I am worrying it is almost always two o’clock in the morning when the stores are closed and my peeps are asleep. In thinking about this topic, I searched the internet for interesting quotes. Here are a few, and my thoughts on them…
“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.” ~Leo Buscaglia
Go, Leo, guru of assertiveness and self-love from the 70’s! True words, these. When I spend time and energy thinking about what might happen, I am not making the best use of that time and energy. It makes me moody with anxiety and does not allow in the sun. Keeping this in mind reminds me that each day is a treasure not to be wasted.
“You can’t wring your hands and roll up your sleeves at the same time.” ~Pat Schroeder
It is not proactive to fear unknown possibilities. In fact, it can be paralyzing, and it can do the exact opposite of what I need to do- which is either find a solution for my problem, or forget about it. This is where the serenity prayer comes in: what part of this, if any, is in my control to change? I have to remember to let go of things that are not in my control, with a promise to deal with them in some productive way.
“Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow.” ~Swedish Proverb
How many hours have I spent fretful about something, and then when it happens, it’s a piece of cake? Every September for the first twenty-five years of my career, I would have anxiety dreams about my class and my students. In many of them, the kids would be physically huge, towering over me and refusing to listen to me. Sometimes I would dream that I was walking through school with no clothes on, just waiting for someone to scream, “She’s naked!” These anxieties would keep me up nights before each school year started, and then once I was there everything worked out fine (Okay, after a few tears. Mine, not the students’.)
That the birds of worry and care fly over you head, this you cannot change, but that they build nests in your hair, this you can prevent. ~Chinese Proverb
Once again, the serenity prayer says the same, and I wonder if it may be based on this proverb. Accept what I cannot change, change what I can, and be smart enough to recognize the difference. This has helped calm me down innumerable times in my life with both big and small issues. It seems like common sense, and maybe it is to other people. For me, this is an area that needs constant attention.
“Do not anticipate trouble or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight. “ ~Benjamin Franklin
Ben was a genius. No, really. Did you know he spoke five languages; created our country’s first fire department, police department and hospital; coined many of the electrical terms we use today; and played several instruments? This is one guy I would go back in time to hang out with. He was also known for his kitschy words of wisdom, and this is definitely a good one. Anticipating troubles actually creates more problems than it solves. It causes issues in your relationships, and makes you forget about pressing issues that can be taken care of. I have to consciously remember this when I catch myself.
If it sounds like I worry all of the time, I don’t. Most of the time I live in the present, going along and getting along just fine. My days are focused on getting things done, distracting me and keeping me busy. If worries try to creep in, it’s not that hard to push them aside when I am otherwise occupied. Of course I always always always have my kids on my mind, and wonder at various times of day and night what they are doing or thinking. I wish that I never worried ever about anything, but is that even possible? Maybe it is, if you don’t care about anything. That’s just not me.