Worrywart. Neurotic. Anxious. OAD. Hypochondriac. Apprehensive. Uneasy. A bundle of nerves. Nebbish. Mess. Fusspot. Basket case. Chances are you and I have worn one or more of these labels. With the utmost familiarity. Helpless to ditch any, some of us still wear them. They hang like an albatross around our necks. Slowly cutting off our air supply. It’s a way of life really. We don’t know how to let things go. We have never known a life without worry. And have driven family and friends to distraction. Yes, this is a long-winded way of describing the art of worrying. Yep. An art. Because we are so good at it. What do we worry about? Everything. Whether our children will turn out alright. Money. How we appear to others. Achieving our goals. The works. Each label might not apply. At least one does.
How our kids will turn out. I don’t have kids. My limited experience with kids involves taking care of a black doll I owned as a child. And that ended badly. Well, not really. I was eight years old when my sister made her entrance. A working mother meant I was in charge of her care; changing diapers, cooking, cleaning, and babysitting. I have also dabbled in babysitting other people’s children. Does that count? I have offered a shoulder to cry on. Sat and listened as parents shared their worries and fears for their children. Will my “wayward” child attend college? Resist the cycle of drugs and violence? Hold a job? Overcome mental illness? They plead daily for miracles. And rightfully so. Any type of counsel goes unheeded. Feelings of helplessness turn into despair. And ulcers. Many interpret a child’s failure as a reflection of their parenting skills. I love this quote by Robert Fulghum, and hope parents will remember it: “Don’t worry that your children never listen to you, worry that they are always watching you”
Meeting your financial obligations. There is never enough is there? For single parents with no support, it’s a double whammy. You constantly chase one bill after another. You shudder to think of the consequences of losing your job. The nights are sleepless. Peter gets robbed monthly. Otherwise Paul would not get paid. People often say you are doing the best you can. Alas, it falls on deaf ears. Think for a moment; if circumstances dictated we live on $10,000 per year, instead of the usual $30,000, wouldn’t we find way?. Yep, we would make sacrifices. Adjust. Do without. Find ways to cut cost. And survive. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “Can anybody remember when the times were not hard and money not scarce?”
Being alone. For years we have lived life on our terms.Had our share of relationships. Broken a few hearts. Had the favor returned. One day, we look around. The golden years are slowly making their way up hill. They have you in their sights.Well maybe that is a stretch. You’ve done it all. But you are alone. Absolutely nothing wrong with that. Being single has immense benefits. However, can you ignore the pink elephant in the room?.
You work hard. Play harder. At the end of the day, you arrive home to an empty house. And it’s ever present reminders. There are no weak-in-the-knees kisses. Passionate embraces. No companion to share your hopes and dreams, and passion for living. No physical, intimate, soulful connections shared by two people in love. Carry on. It’s difficult not to think about the ones who got away. Missed chances at happiness. Time will decide the wisdom behind those decisions. It might take an act of congress/parliament for us to find the person who compliments us. Not to complete us, because we already have that covered.
I have witnessed friends and family members settle. Because they don’t want to be alone. They are afraid in the twinkling of an eye; they will be the woman with more than 2 cats. Or the reformed player/bad boy, whose dose of karma, is being married to a woman who makes his life miserable. A word of caution, don’t settle. I have settled in the past. The result was torment. And years of misery. I honestly believe this quote:“What’s meant to be will always find its way.”
What others think about you. The social disease called people pleasing. We’ve all had it. No one is immune. The diagnosis is simple. Medicine will not cure it. Prognosis can be good. Depending on the severity of the symptoms. And willingness to get better. This particular disease can be touch and go. However, if it stays for the long-term, all bets are off. Especially, if it holds us hostage. And transforms us into something or someone else. Some of us worry incessantly about pleasing others. Saying and doing the right thing. At the right time. How we appear to them. We out do ourselves trying to bring happiness. So, they will like us. They have to.
spend squander money, time, and precious resources trying to win approval and acceptance. It took me a long time to understand I will not get along with everyone. Not everyone will like me. Regardless of what I do, someone will be unhappy. There are situations where you are damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. This is a worry you can be free of. People will either accept you, or they can move on. At the end of the day:”Be yourself, everyone else is taken” Oscar Wilde.
Mistakes of the past. No one can change the past. However, we have the power to influence the future. With the decisions we make. Or the ones we avoid making. I am sure you and I have repeatedly “opened mouth, and inserted foot”. Changed our behaviors to suit a spouse. Love interest. Friend. Situation. Gotten into the same pattern with relationships. Hurt someone. Intentionally or unintentionally. Looked the other way instead of helping. We’ve made mistakes. Rather than letting it go and learning from the past, we let the past continue to haunt us. We simmer and stew. We have not forgiven ourselves. Stop it. Really. Stop letting blunders ruin special moments. Experience and mistakes teach us. Molds character. And refines personalities. Provided amends have been made, attempt now to move on, because “mistakes are the portals of discovery” Unknown.
In closing, sometimes we are powerless to stop the worry. We are humans after all. Emotions signify we are alive. We care. About ourselves and others. The trick is to maintain a healthy balance. To know when worrying about something will not improve the situation. To know when to let go. We might never be completely free of every worry. However, we can choose not to worry about the things we have no control over. Death. The actions of others. Disease. Etc. We can learn to simply accept things as they are.
Worry is an incapacitating emotion. It drains our mental and emotional resources. Precious emotional capital often needed, in other areas of our lives. Some of them in disrepair. Areas which have suffered neglect, because we are busy cultivating another worry. We have to know when to draw the line. To change only the things we can. Sometimes that means our responses to people and situations. Here is a list of things to Beat Stress. If you are worried you might need more, here is another Fifty Ways to Calm Your Anxiety
Enjoy this song by a true legend. One I grew up with. Danced to. And simply loved. Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds. Cheeky, but fitting.
Until the next post, ” today is the yesterday you worried about”