Lately, I seem to be working with a lot of clients who are struggling with anxiety. They worry a lot. About EVERYTHING. And through my job, I'm blessed to be able to help them find a time, and a place, in which they let go of worry.
I used to worry. A lot. About most things. I always figured that it was inherited. Even though I never really SAW my mother worry, I assumed she must. After all, I worried, Grandmother worried, so we must be a family of worriers. Okay, to be fair, Grandmother never seemed happy unless there was something to worry about.
But you know, worry never did any of us any favors. Worry made us miserable.
Over the past year or so, I've been working on ways to let myself feel better. I've been working on my own mentality. I've been reminding myself that the way we look at things colors the way things are. The more I look at things negatively, the more negative energy I bring into my life. Worry is like opening a window in winter and wondering why it's cold inside.
See, here's the thing about worry: Worry never changes anything but your own mood. Let's say, for example, that I'm looking at my calendar, and am reminded that in one week, I'll be going to get a mammogram (a good thing I do for myself each year). This year, I'm more aware of breast cancer than most years, because this year I've watched as a family member has battled breast cancer. I've been reminded that my Grandmother (yes, the worrier) had breast cancer, and that she died decades later when it metastasized to her liver. I've been reminded that my aunt (on the other side) had breast cancer, and died when it metastasized pretty much everywhere. So, with all this breast cancer awareness that's up close and personal, I could have worried my way through the week, worried my way across town as I drove, worried my way into the office, and worried my way into the exam room, and worried even more when they decided that I needed a sonogram too, and worried myself into quite a state waiting for the results.
What would that have accomplished?
It would have dumped stress hormones into my body (which would have depressed my immune system). It would have made me feel pretty miserable for a week. And possibly longer. It would have made me less fun to be around, so it might have reduced at least the duration of interactions I had with people I know.
What it wouldn't do was change whether or not I had anything detectable by the tests. Worry wasn't going to increase or decrease the likelihood that I have cancer. Worry was going to make me miserable, upset my stomach, likely give me a headache, and work me up into a state of real distress. If it turned out I had cancer, worry could ONLY make it harder for me to fight the battle. It could not releive the stress or pain of the discovry or the ensuing treatment.
In short, worry would only borrow pain from the future. And, assuming that the test turned out negative (weird medical twist on our life when a negative result is a positive thing, eh), it would have given me pain that never needed to be part of my life! If, heaven forfend, the tests turned out positive (meaning a bad thing), all that worry would not have reduced the pain I had to deal with on getting the diagnosis or dealing with the treatement -- it would have, instead, weakened my abilty to deal with it.
How dumb is worry? Pretty dumb. It borrows pain from the future without reducint the future's pain, and sometimes just adds pain where none would have been.
Tomorrow will bring what it brings. Sure, it's good to prepare for it (hmm, there's going to be a massive snow and ice storm tomorrow, perhaps I should make sure we have plenty of water and milk and candles in the house just in case). And it's good to plan ahead (oy, next month we have to pay two tuition bills plus the holiday bills, perhaps we can stay home on New Year's Eve instead of staying in a hotel). But it's not a good idea to worry.
If I'm going to spend my time thinking on something, I'm going to do it contemplating something that makes me feel good, not something that makes me feel bad.
If you're interested in reading more about this changing your mentality thing, I've just discovered a great book (I particularly liked it because I got to say "yeah! I do that!) to a lot of the first section). Three Simple Steps: A Map to Success in Business and in Life, by Trevor Blake. (the first link is to Amazon, the second is to an independent bookseller favored by my father -- I can't link to a local one since all we have left in town is the big chain and independent used booksellers). The steps really are simple. The discipline (yep, theres a do this every day bit), well, that's simple but hard. But the book is a good read anyway.
So. To sum up this post: Don't Worry. It doesn't change a thing, and it saps your happiness.