I understand the parameters of reality, so why do I worry so much? It’s pointless and I know that worrying is harmful, so why do I keep doing it? I think I have an answer.
The first time I recall being really worried was when I was seven years old. My dad traveled a lot and one night his plane was late. I was convinced he had crashed and I worried myself sick. Of course he was fine. I had worried myself sick for nothing.
Over the years I continued to worry about a variety of things from A to Z — some realistic, some ridiculous.
They say only eight per cent of our worries are realistic. And of those, we can actually only do something about half. This means ninety-six per cent of the things we worry about are a useless waste of time.
Why do some people worry more than others?
I have a theory that we worriers have three things in common:
1. WE NEED TO BE IN CONTROL
We dictate and delegate, but then end up doing everything ourselves because everyone else does it wrong. We like to organize and compartmentalize and strategize and basically orchestrate the outcome of like, everything. And when we realize we can’t actually control nature and destiny, we freak out a little. If we can’t control it, we worry about it.
2. WE HAVE VIVID IMAGINATIONS
Having a creative mind is a blessing. But for those predisposed to worry, it can be a curse. A dog barking outside isn’t just a frisky pet. Instead, we imagine it is a warning that a murderer is just seconds from breaking in. We imaginers take an ordinary scenario and twist it into an epic conclusion that Stephen Spielberg himself would envy.
3. IT’S IN THE GENES
I come from long line of worriers. You can identify us by our wringing hands and worry lines. This was fine with me until recently. It became un-fine when I saw the signs in my son—he was growing into a wee worrier.
Replete with regret, and of course worry, I knew I had to break the cycle. But how??
It started with me. I worked hard to quit the worrying. Meditation, breathing techniques and changing the pattern of negative self-talk and catastrophizing helped a lot.
But the one thing that helped most was working together with my son. By being a positive role model for him, even if it was a “fake it til you make it” situation, became reality. Talking through our feelings worked wonders too. By showing him how to take risks, to be grateful, gentle and gracious, and to live life in the moment, I’m learning how to walk the talk.
As originally posted on ymc.ca