Monday, September 21, 2015


I am feeling so off kilter today. I awoke at five this morning and couldn't shake that nagging feeling that I have something important to calendar gives me no clue. I lay there in bed, my stomach in knots. I haven't really had much of this in the past six years. Motherhood left me so exhausted that I slept when and where I could. Now my kids are sleeping like normal humans. Ahh yes, insomnia has returned in full force. I have many little worries that I can push to the side during the day, but at night they become this powerful force in my solutions. My worries extend from basic things like finances and child rearing to more unusual concerns like, did they ever find that missing boy from the news five years ago.

Recently I was talking with my parents and a few family friends about my tendency to worry. My mother recounted a story from my childhood; after watching a story on the news about abduction I asked for a body guard. I was four. They stopped watching the news in my presence. 

I spent much of my childhood helicopter parenting my younger brothers. My parents thought it was mostly amusing if not annoying. I am happy to report progress on that front and I try not to do that with the girls as much, understanding the value of bumps and bruises. However, I still check on the girls before I go to bed, checking their breathing.

I know that worry is pretty pointless. I have read so many of bits of wisdom about worry: 

Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.-Corrie ten Boom

If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it's not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.- Dalai Lama XIV

Happy is the man who has broken the chains which hurt the mind, and has given up worrying once and for all. -Ovid

Isn't that all great advice?

While we were discussing my worry I was internally worrying that I was making myself a problem. Our family friends, unaware of how deep this river runs, tried  to offer advice and logic...all things that I understand intellectually, but find impossible to employ long term. Sure, I can control worry on particular issues through logic or deep breathing or meditation, but I don't have that kind of time to spend on each worry, breathing myself down to calm. My mind is a bubbling cauldron of endless worry. 

Ultimately the discussion turned to putting a positive spin on this issue, when nobody had any new ideas. Compassion and empathy were brought up; I have that in excess too. Somehow that empathy and compassion and worry are all bundled together. I worry about my needs, the needs of friends and family, animals, strangers, land, sea, sky. All of it falls into my sphere of concern. I even worry about outer space. I mean why not at this point right?

So now I recognize that I was made to worry, but it is a matter of managing this issue. Worry is often valueless, but there are times when it gives me motivation to act. I am working now, to cultivate this worry into something that is a tool rather than a barrier. I want to identify my worries and sort them into action/non-action. If I cannot do something about a particular worry I must train myself to channel that energy to a worry that I can impact.

Are you a worrier?


Sarah Purdy said...

Motherhood has left me very little time for self reflection and this is what I worry about when I worry. "What am I learning from this experience? What is - enter name of annoying person at work - teaching me right now? Am I being a good friend? I need to be more attentive to my children's words and stories. Am I being an attentive enough spouse? Am I getting closer to my goals? What were my goals again?" and if I'm not doing that, I'm writing grocery lists (scramble out of bed, stove light on, scribble down item - "toothpaste" - light off, back to bed. Remember another thing, scramble out, light on...etc....drives the dog - and the husband- crazy). Yes, I have paper by the bed but that paper is not the grocery list. The grocery list lives on the fridge.

Victoria said...

I am and always have been a worrier...but then, you probably know that because you are so empathetic. Yes, that's the key word. It is our empathy that gets us into trouble. When things are so deeply felt it is difficult to know where we end and the rest of the world begins. To alleviate worry I turn to meditation, and the practice of being in the moment, as worry has so much to do with projection! To thwart that worry voice in my head, as things come up I bless them and let them go. To help me sleep...a neat little homeopathic remedy called Calms Forte. Here's to sweet dreams my fellow worrier xoxo

pambrewer said...

Have you tried medication? Seems like its more anxiety than worry. Just sayin'.

Anonymous said...

another way to lessen the worrying voice in your head is to write it down in a list form. Then (as the theory goes)your worry is transferred from your mind to that list and your mind knows that it is written down so you don't worry about it anymore... of course you have to have a piece of paper and pen by your bed because that's when you tend to do the worrying.
Try it, it won't hurt!

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