As a young girl, I remember humming the familiar tune, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that repeating catch phrases and singing a particular song isn’t going to eliminate worry. There is ample to worry about at every stage of life.
My four year old even worries. She is not fond of swimming and so five days before her scheduled excursion with water, she will ask “Is it time for my swimming lessons?” Her eyebrows are raised and her eyes look anxious. I recognize her expression, it is one of panic. Once I say that today isn’t the day for swimming, she squeals in excitement and resumes playing.
Her worrying leaves me unsettled. Isn’t it too early for her to start worrying? I certainly don’t want her to adopt my propensity to keep worry as my friend. My mind worries about everything, from the mundane to the serious. I believe I am hardwired to think this way, always asking the what if’s and envisioning worst case scenarios. I am fixated about embracing the present, but realize my dependence on worry prevents me from engaging in the now.
Worrying doesn’t solve anything and although we all know this, it is difficult to divorce yourself from it. I think to a certain extent I worry in order to prepare. If the outcome is different than what I conjured in my mind, I am surprised and relieved. Then I admonish myself, for worrying about something that never happened. It is cyclical, as much as I don’t want to worry, I engage in the behavior again.
I’ve used various ways to channel worry into a positive pathway. I run, I write, I blog and I try to employ the five second, five minute, and five years rule. I ask myself whether what I am worried about will matter in five seconds, five minutes, or five years. Most of the time, the answer is no.
Yet because it is my nature to worry, it won’t be something I can’t easily let go. What I do know is that it might be too late for me, but I am determined to raise a daughter that doesn’t spend too much time worrying about the future.
She needn’t worry because she has me to do that for her.
Do you have a tendency to worry? Do you worry about the mundane or serious? Do you try to not worry? Any suggestions on how to stop worrying?
Great Blog! I am a worrier soul too. My worries are silly things to serious things like future and sometimes somuch of that worrying ends up affecting my health. I like the idea of 5 seconds to 5 minutes rule. I will definately try it out.
I am the biggest worrywart–it’s not a trait I’m particularly proud of. At all.
Rudri: I worry about everything. I still wake up in the middle of the night and check on my kids, afraid they will have stopped breathing. (The main reason their cribs stayed in our room for so long.)
It is my belief that there are different types of worry. And not all types are bad. Worry over a sick child may not heal that child, but it does increase your awareness over what they may or may not need. Worry over a friend or family member may lead to a phone call and wonderful chat. But, the worry that is unneccessary can be a hindrance to living fully living life. For instance, I used to stay up at night worried about our future. Uncertain about where we might end up. I have learned to let this go, as much as possible, because the sleepless nights were making me miserable. The key for me to stop worrying was allowing my faith to replace fear. A hard task, I assure you.
I worry and, like you, am always surprised when everything is just fine. My eldest is a total worrier, and we’re working on it – he will not participate in things where he’s not sure how it will go, and his mind is always going way down the road with every eventuality.
Most of the time I trust God, but sometimes I forget and worry. Usually all that worrying ends up being anti-climatic. Nothing happens. So I stress out for absolutely no reason and grin sheepishly in the dark about it all.
Worrying and anxiety, especially in children can be difficult to decide how to deal with it. At age 12, my oldest son was an exceptional soccer player. All of the parents rooted and cheered him on. His coach always played him in the entire game. However, he started chewing his nails to the quick. He felt so much pressure from everyone. He asked to quit playing. I was devastated because he had so much talent, but how to you calm a field of adults into letting a child play for fun. We let him leave soccer and the stress relieved and he stopped the nail chewing. As a young adult, I always know when he is under tremendous (usually academic) stress because he will start biting his nails. I guess we all have different ways of dealing with worry. I used to worry. all. the. time. It took a serious adjustment of perception and handing over to stop and finally feel peace.
I am a terrible worrier and I know that for me it is because I have this endless need to control. It is as if I believe that if I worry about things, consider every option, then things will be OK but of course that can never be true.
I think worry of the sort your daughter is experiencing over something that right now she fears is perfectly natural and not something to be concerned about.
I thought I was the only one who worries about pretty much anything and everything that happens to me. It starts by overthinking every aspect of why something went wrong or why someone said something to me, and it goes on and on… I even once bought a book called Women Who Think Too Much to learn what I can do to change the habit. It was helpful, and I learned that worrying gets you nowhere, just bringing oneself restless sleep.
As research has shown, we can train our mind to do exactly what we want out of life. Just like we somehow developed our mind to worry too much, we can train our mind to stop it. What seems to be working for me is yelling out “STOP” in my mind, and it breaks the chain of thoughts.
I still worry but not so much after my parents divorced. See that scenario never came up in my worried thoughts so I learned that the worst things that will happen to you are those things that you would have never thought of at all … So why waste your time worrying?
I wish I could stop worrying. It’s so hard to stop!!! I hope I don’t pass that on to my kids either.
I’ve inherited my grandmother’s worry gene. I hate it about myself and I pray I don’t pass it along to my children. Which makes me all the more sensitive when I notice that my children (one in particular) have their worrisome moments. That’s when I take over and try to be overly Zen, wisking away their worry for the time being. I have to admit – I’m not very good at that, either.
I worry all the time, about the mundane and the serious. About everything – what I said, and what we’ll do, and how roads are dangerous. I handle it until I wake up in the middle of the night, knowing that my worry has transitioned into something irrational. My son worries, too, and it often makes me a bit sad! But so far, he worries about the mundane – will I make him get a haircut? Are we out of bananas? – and I hope he can hold on to that for a long, long time. 🙂
I just love your “5 second, 5 minute, 5 year” rule. I think that’s brilliant. (I’m going to try it.)
I’ve also been a worrier most of my life – but not everywhere, and in every context. You also say: I worry in order to prepare – and I think that captures an essence, a nuance, that goes along with other personality (character?) traits, including thoroughness, an attention to detail, wanting to be on time, planning (in general). And I consider all those aspects of managing our lives (and professions) very valuable. In context, and when appropriate.
In your studies and your profession – that was all helpful, wasn’t it? So maybe, to some degree, there’s another word (somewhere) other than worry that suits better. Not sure what that is at the moment. But it’s purposeful worry. It’s anticipating all the contingencies you possibly can. And yes, there’s some (emotional) fretting element to it, certainly. It’s anxiety producing.
It seems to me that your daughter is feeling anxiety over the swimming lessons, and so she worries about them. We, as parents, are anticipating every possible contingency (and guarding against the bad stuff), which causes – in part – anxiety and fretting.
I’m not sure exactly where I”m going with this (can you tell? :)), but maybe there’s a shift in perception that might be helpful. For you and for your daughter. Maybe her anxiety is also telling you she’s not ready (at age 4) for swimming lessons. She may be ready at age 5, or 6. Who knows? (Worth a discussion on her anxiety/fear? On what she dislikes about the swimming lessons?)
Lots of thoughts, I know. (A bit of a scramble.)
Last thought – as I’ve gotten a little older, I worry (excessively?) about certain things, and others – not at all. It’s nice to know that some of the worry eases, partly due to kids getting older and able to take care of themselves, partly due to broadening perspectives that simply come with (cough, choke, eek)… aging.
My mom’s a worrier and now, with my own daughter, I’ve become a worrier like her too. I can’t help it. I imagine scenarios in my head and sometimes it prevents me from completely appreciating what I have in front of me because I’m too worried about what lies ahead.
What helped recently was reading Devotion and stumbling upon Virginia Woolf’s quote: “Arrange the pieces as they come” – It has become my new mantra, although I’m not sure why it provides me such comfort. Perhaps it finally appeals to my more rational, intellectual side that looks back upon all the worrisome things that I encountered in my life and saw that I handled them all and learned from them; it’s a lesson to myself that when other matters arise, I will find a way to deal with them as well.