I’m a worrier. I worry about everything and everybody. I’m not proud of this trait (actually I’d prefer to be rid of it), but asking me to stop worrying is almost as absurd as telling me to stop being tall or having curly hair. It’s just not happening.
Logic would dictate that worrying is a dead sport, that since one can change the outcome of nothing, one should worry about nothing. And while I appreciate the logic in this way of thinking, logic is not in a worrier’s wheelhouse. Worry is not even in the same town as logic. As a matter of fact, I am here to tell you that logic and worry speak two completely different languages.
Yesterday is one example. In the course of preparing for an important part of my job, I sent an email out to the staff of my school with a schedule for the next two months. I had worked hard on this thing and was relieved that I was finished and could hit “send” on the email. Then I got my first response. A coworker very politely pointed out that I had the wrong week scheduled as our April break. I looked at the schedule. I compared it to the little calendar I keep with all my appointments in it. Nope, I had put down the correct week. Then I looked at our school’s online calendar—the one I’m in charge of keeping up to date—and saw that the week in my calendar and the week I had put online were different. I panicked. I ran up to our main office and asked to see a master calendar. And there it was: I had the wrong week in my calendar. I had written it down as being a week later.
This was bad. Really bad. Why? Because that meant that Bill and I had plane tickets and hotel reservations for the wrong week. My heart was somewhere in my esophagus and I had broken out in a sweat when I called Bill to tell him. I was worried that he would be upset with me for not being able to read a simple calendar. I was worried that he wouldn’t be able to change the reservations and we would not be able to go on our trip. I was worried that it would be costly to change the plane tickets. I was just worried. I guess if I dug really deeply, I was worried that Bill wouldn’t love me anymore. But I know Bill, and I should have known that he would take it in stride and just do what needed to be done. And that’s what happened. He was not angry, he was not upset, he was not inconvenienced. He just did what needed to be done and changed all of the reservations. If you asked me a week ago how he would have reacted to this situation, I could have predicted he would have done exactly what he did. So why did I tear myself into such a giant knot of worry that I had stomach pain for the rest of the day?
I wish I could stop. I wish I could logic things out, or live in the moment, or just take up the mantra of “it is what it is” and stop this incessant fretting. But I can’t. I try to be all Eckhart Tolle and embrace the power of now but it doesn’t seem to work for me. And so I will journey ever onward into another day of trying to balance out my worry with this foreigner named logic. I’m worried, though. What if he doesn’t like me?
Is this really worry? Sounds to me more like guilt and blame with a sprinkle of perfectionism on top. Or maybe it’s guilt with a worry about blame? In ay case learning to self-sooth is a valuable skill that you can build. When the worry/ blame voice starts up, don’t invite it to sit down and pour it a cup of tea for a good long chat. Shove a mental sock in its mouth and focus on something else. Over and over again. It take practice and perseverance, but it’s a very loving thing to do for yourself. You owe this to you.