What? Me Worry?

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If the situation or problem is such that it can be remedied, then there is no need to worry about it. Alternatively, if there is no solution, no possibility of resolution, then there is also no point in being worried about it, because you cannot do anything about it anyway.
— His Holiness the Dalai Lama

I’ve always been a worrier. I’ve worried about almost everything including what other people thought of me, what would happen if I didn’t do what I was told to do, and how much snow would fall overnight rendering the following day a disaster because I couldn’t get to my doctor’s appointment or my yoga class. I seemed to think that worrying would make the bad things I was expecting to happen disappear, never to be seen again. Fortunately, worry is no longer my constant companion.

It seems to me that worrying has a lot to do with control issues and fear. As a child I felt there was nothing in my life that I could control. I never knew when my parents were going to be mean to me or when they would give me a hug and tell me I was a good kid. From the beginning I had the imagination of a creative and could come up with the most amazing, wonderful stories in my head or the most terrifying. The scary tales were often encouraged by my grandparents who told me that if I didn’t eat everything on my plate, the wolf that lived in the pump house across the street would come and take me away. For a long time I believed them and ate all of the disgusting spinach that was piled on my plate and the extremely overripe banana that made me want to puke. I watched as my grandfather cracked raw eggs into his coffee and then drink it. I worried that he’d make me do the same thing as soon as I was old enough to drink coffee. Thankfully I was never forced to follow his lead.

I slowly discovered that worry was caused by anticipating what was ahead, fearing that I would fail and/or get into deep trouble. When I made the earth shattering discovery that I have little or no control over anything I figured out it was a waste of time. I would never be able to stop my father from being in a rotten mood, or keep lightening from striking my house. The world was way too huge and chaotic to fret about. Why waste my time feeling anxious and watching my back, which always ruined gorgeous, sunny days?

Being mindful is my goal these days. Sure I still worry about things when they feel wobbly, but once I realize what is happening it is fairly easy to let go, labeling my thoughts as fear or expectation. Surely there is no problem hoping for the best outcome of any situation, but letting it direct every moment of our lives is being wasteful of the gift we have been given. And fearing the worst is even more destructive.

Sam, my fourteen year old dog is getting very old, is deaf, and having difficulty with his rear legs. But he is happy and I can’t worry about how much longer he will be with us. I can only enjoy having him with me right now and the moments when he is feeling exceptionally chipper and can run up the driveway, chasing Lilli, his cat. I’m having too much fun right now getting up each day and smelling whatever flower is opening up for me. If the end of the world comes along while I’m at it I’ll deal with it when it happens. Why waste even a minute of this wonderful life?

Comments

  1. I remember that an earlier title to your blog was “One Rich Life.” I am happy to hear in this post that you have reclaimed that mindset. The snowstorm in the northeast may delay my flight to PA – or not. What happens is beyond my control and I’m okay with that. But that’s not to say I can’t relate to your struggle with worry.

    Thank you for commenting on my blog today. 🙂

  2. Joan Rough says:

    We had only a light covering of sleet this morning and it is now completely melted. Despite that schools were delayed two hours this morning, but the roads were clear. Only grassy areas got covered with the frozen stuff. I hope you get to PA with ease!

  3. Francine Brady says:

    My problem has been my grandiose notions that I could fix things. Having an alcoholic mother and a crazy father, and my church telling me to honor them I found my stability in Science. My mother died of Cancer before I could cure her but she said to me “It’s OK I was always afraid I would die drunk and now I can’t get out of the bed to get a drink.” God works in mysterious ways. We forgave each other.

  4. Joan — “…and fearing the worst is even more destructive.”

    Amen siSTAR! ⭐

    • Joan Rough says:

      Amen right back to you, wise woman, Laurie! I’m looking forward to knowing more about your new book.

  5. Hello Joan and welcome to a worry free world. I find the more I live in the present moment, the less I even think about what might be worrisome. Worry is living in the future; regret is living in the past. Right now is all we’ve really got. Is that why they call it the present? (ha! Stole that one). You offer us all a great reminder of how futile worry is. So many other important items to focus my mind on. Like watching the snow outside my window falling and falling and falling . . . .

  6. Thanks, Janet. Watching the snow, the way the shadows of trees change when the wind is blowing wildly, being in fresh air, are all important things we sometimes forget to appreciate and they are really the bones of life. What will happen, will happen regardless of what we think or do!

  7. Oh, Joan, I come from a long line of worriers so it’s in my genes. Therefore, it’s a conscious effort to combat it. I’ve been working on being present in the moment and it feels right. Thanks for sharing your life lessons so openly. I can relate!

  8. Joan Rough says:

    Thanks Kathy, I think most people can relate. Mindfulness is the only way to go to keep me happy!

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