Worrier or Warrior, it’s our choice.

Is the glass half-full or half-empty? How about “is the glass cracked?”?
Yes, I have probably taken worrying to a new level and, as I age, it’s getting worse, so I finally decided to approach this trait of mine head on.

First, the definition of ‘worry’ is to “give way to anxiety or unease; allow one’s mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles,” as defined by the Oxford dictionary.

Excessive worrying can have both mental and physical effects and no doubt adds to your everyday stress levels. So, if controlling stress is on most people’s minds these days, with a focus on a middle-aged women, couldn’t it be said that it all starts with worrying?  

Sometimes you have to take a step back to go forward, so, when we think about it, by the time we have reached middle age, we have both experienced a lot and have seen a lot, good and bad.  

We know what could happen, what is likely to happen and, in some cases, what will happen – or at least we think we do. Or, as my husband says to me quite often, “you think you know everything”, and yes, I probably do act as if I do, but haven’t we been trained to be like that?  

From the moment my kids were born you could say I took control.  Instinctively, I knew what was best for my daughter and son.   As toddlers, I knew how to keep them safe. If there was a question, I usually had the answer.  

My family and my husband would usually defer to me because I knew things.  I knew where my husband’s glasses were, my son’s homework assignment, the dog’s leash, which doctor to call, when to challenge a diagnosis, which of my daughter’s friends just broke up with her boyfriend and how that would affect her friend group.  

Wouldn’t that mean I knew things?  And, if I know things, then I guess I can predict the future, which must be why I worry. 

Even I can see what a ridiculous argument this is, but I can also see how it can contribute to such unnecessary worrying.  

People have depended on me to get it right, so what happens if I don’t?  As women, the worry isn’t always about us, it’s also about the people who rely on us.  The what-ifs haunt us, and we lose time thinking about scenarios that usually never happen.

And, as a parent of one in college and the other one leaving in the fall, don’t even get me started on the amount of worrying that has gone into that. All you have to do is turn the news on in the morning and if you weren’t already thinking about what could happen, you are now!

We’ve made it to this point – wherever you are right now as you read this, where I am as I write this.  We have made conscious decisions to bring us here.  We must have got something right in spite of all the sleepless nights and unnecessary worrying we have done.

One of my favorite songs in the 80s was by Pat Benatar, The Warrior.  There’s a line in the song, “Who’s the hunter…who’s the game?”. Well, if we spend so much time worrying, doesn’t that make us the game?  
We become vulnerable, a bit more cautious. To what end? There will always be unanswered questions because none of us can predict the future, so shouldn’t we enjoy the moment?  We have allowed ourselves to become worriers instead of the warrior we started out to be. 

When I sit back and ask myself how much of it actually happened, the answer is not a lot. What a waste of time!

It’s enough now.

So, how to overcome in real time? A few things that are working for me that I wanted to share – and please note, this is not easy. I’m a work in progress, but I’m trying to enjoy the moments and not predict the outcomes.  

Get out!!! Walk, exercise, focus on your body. No, it’s not about losing weight; it’s about feeling your body, listening, breathing, getting fresh air even if just for 10 minutes. Change the thought process and take control back. I would go into the whole endorphin thing, but my sister has told me she doesn’t have any, so while that could be another discussion, she has acknowledged walking takes her out of her own head. I think that’s a great way to put it!

Write it down!  This for me has become one of the best things I have done for myself.  I keep a journal, several actually, for different things. As an example, I keep a health and wellness journal. If I see a doctor or have a specific complaint or worry, I write it down, how I feel, what’s bothering me.  I reference back on it: is it still there? Has it changed at all? I will sometimes make a list of questions for a doctor if I decide to see one.  I have found that sometimes the questions are more important than the answers, because you’re pinpointing the actual problem. I find it gives me some control back when I document a situation. 

I keep a journal by my bed and, if something’s bothering me, I write it down, like a brain dump. It can help me sleep. It’s written down, recorded and I can move on. 

There’s an app for that! I use Headspace, which is my preference, but I also like Calm. There are guided meditations as well as short lessons that I find work well. Even if I’m just doing things around my house, I’ll put my headset on and my perspective changes, it gives me clarity when I can’t find it for myself. There are even short animations that are worth watching, and the best part is you can do this while you are waiting on line for something, and no one has any idea what you are doing.

Stop asking the question. Easier said than done, but worth a try. When you start to think “what if?”, catch yourself, and make a statement instead. 

What if it rains for the outdoor party I have planned this weekend? Instead, how about…if it does rain this weekend, I’ll move it inside, or I’ll rent a tent.  What if the doctor calls with bad news? Instead, how about…when the doctor calls I’ll now have the knowledge to deal with the problem.  Knowledge is power. You have to be able to hear it and say it before you can deal with it.  It gives you back the control!

As the song says, we are the warriors, and every once in a while, we need to remember that.  

I would love to hear what works for you. When it comes to this subject, I think we can all learn from each other!


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10 thoughts

  1. Sherri, this was very good. I almost missed this but you mentioned on Instagram what was in your blog today. I am a terrible worrier. I constantly worry about my family. My kids are all grown and because they live far away I worry about them. Right now spend a lot of time alone because my husband works in another state for 2 weeks every month. I find prayer helps me but I don’t do it often enough. The worry takes over. I’m going to try some of your suggestions. I especially like the idea of journals. I’m going to look into that. Thanks!

    1. Thanks so much Paula, my husband also travels quite a bit, I have one in college and the other is leaving in September so I can appreciate what you are saying!! The journal really works for me so if you have any questions, just let me know!!

  2. yes! leave the worrying behind! worrying aka anxiety made me sick at one point in my life….i am teaching my young lady daughters that 90% of what we worry about doesn’t happen and to not try controlling the current, but go with it…perfectly written!…love to see you an i are at same points in our lives : )
    xo Eva
    http://www.CostumeTakeOut.com

    1. Thanks so much Eva, my daughter will be 20 in April and I try to teach her the same thing.. And yes, I am at a point now where it is just better to deal with it head on and as you say, most of what we worry about never happens:))

  3. This is a great article, Sherri! It takes daily practice for me to curb my worrying! I feel it is part of self-love we need to embrace. Sharing strategies that work for us is more valuable than we realize!

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