Tag: beprepared

Facing Worry

I’m a worrier, and it stresses me out. This is not new. Actually, I do better now than I used to.

And yet, I still worry far too much. In some ways, I feel like I took the scout motto to “Be Prepared” much too personally. I’m constantly peering into the shadows trying to anticipate which monster will come out next. Maybe I read too many mystery novels when I was young and impressionable.

It takes a lot of energy to try prevent all the bad things that could possibly happen at once. “Don’t talk to strangers. Or people you know. Or walk too close to cars. Or groups of kids. And look out for dogs. And powerlines…” The warnings I want to give my middle schooler before he walks a block to school in the morning are endless. Usually I manage to limit it to one or two. Sometimes I just drive him to school.

I unplug small appliances before I leave the house and worry about the larger appliances that are too big to unplug. Every time the phone rings, I worry it’s the school calling. Bee sting? Broken arm? The sky falling? They haven’t happened yet, but this could be that call.

Early in our marriage, my husband stopped our newspaper subscription. I was reading the paper cover to cover, and I can still, twenty years later, remember the details of some of the scary stories I read. “It’s stressing you out,” my husband said.

“I need to know what to watch out for,” I told him.

And yet, without the newspaper to warn me, we survived living in that city, and the other cities we lived in. Some bad things happened, but some great things did too. I didn’t miss the newspaper… okay, I did. But I didn’t miss my daily dose of fear.

The internet has tried to provide that with its newsfeeds and Facebook, but I try to be wise and only read a few stories here and there. It’s like a security blanket. If I can just predict the bad things, whatever they are, I can defend against them, right?

But I think that the worry can be a bad thing all on its own. There is a point where it ceases to be helpful, and starts taking too much energy, time and space. I’m tired of worrying.

I will probably never leave my toaster plugged in when I leave the house. I don’t think I will ever ride a rollercoaster without imagining that this is the time it will go off the tracks. That said, I am trying harder to worry less. But how do I worry less after all this time?

Science says that the best way to get rid of a bad habit is to replace it with a good habit. This article explains it well: https://www.inc.com/melody-wilding/psychology-says-this-is-how-you-change-a-bad-habit-for-good.html

So what is a good replacement for worry?

In an Ensign article in April 1986, Gordon B. Hinckley said: “I am asking that we stop seeking out the storms and enjoy more fully the sunlight.“

And later in the same article, “I have little doubt that many of us are troubled with fears concerning ourselves. We are in a period of stress across the world. There are occasionally hard days for each of us. Do not despair. Do not give up. Look for the sunlight through the clouds. Opportunities will eventually open to you. Do not let the prophets of gloom endanger your possibilities.”

Bad things do happen, but good things do too. Why not spend my energy preparing for the next big opportunity? Why not notice and recognize the good things that happen? I think it would be a better use of my time.

I’ve started keeping a gratitude journal. I try to get out and help other people. It really gives me a lot of perspective. Somehow, it’s easier to do hard things when I’m doing them for someone else. I am developing my talents and trying to share them.

I may always be a worrier. But, I hope that I can continue to improve. I want to stop seeking out storms and instead enjoy the sunlight. While wearing sunscreen. And a hat.

Do you worry a lot too? What are some things you do when you can tell that you’re starting to worry?

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Charlie’s Room: Prepared for Anything

The long weekend had finally arrived, and the weather was perfect. Now it was time to check their lists twice. A camping trip isn’t as fun if you’re not prepared. Marianne had the food list and was double-checking the cooler. Isaac was checking the pile of larger equipment. Charlie had the list for the smaller things that fit into the duffel bag. They each had packed their own clothes and toiletries, and they’d already double-checked those lists.

Charlie finished first. He set his list on the ground beside him and started piling things into the duffel bag. “But what if it rains?” he asked.

Isaac smiled. “That’s why we have the rain cover for the tent, and our ponchos, and the pack of cards.

“But what about food? If it rains, we can’t build a fire, right? Or use the camp stove?” Charlie picked up the pack of cards and looked at it.

“We could, but we also packed foods that don’t need to be heated. We’ll be okay.” Isaac moved the tent aside to look for the camp chairs. He checked them off the list.

“What if there’s a tornado? Tents wouldn’t survive a tornado.” Charlie shook the box of matches. “Are these waterproof?”

“No, the waterproof matches are over there in that container.” Isaac pointed to a container at the edge of the remaining pile. “Are you sure you checked the list? And if there was a tornado coming, the rangers would let us know, and we’d go home.”

“I checked the list.” Charlie picked up the list and held it up. “See? Everything is checked off. I just thought that it was a mistake to have matches twice. That’s all. And what if the rangers are gone?”

Isaac checked to make sure the camp stove and lantern were in good shape. “Alright. That’s fine then. Anything else that looked like a mistake? And we packed the radio with extra batteries to check the weather if we need to.”

“I thought that was for music.” Charlie finished packing the duffel bag. “Everything else looked fine. What if it snows? I didn’t pack any winter gear.”

“We could use the space blankets if it gets too cold. There’s also the hand warmers and cocoa.” Isaac put his list down. “I think we have everything, if your mom is done with her list.”

“All done,” Marianne called from the kitchen.

“Then I think we’re prepared for anything,” Charlie decided. “We have extra water, right? And the first aid kit? And breakfast cereal?”

“Yes to all of that,” Marianne said, carrying in the cooler. “Let’s pack up the car and go. I want to get there by lunch time.”

They packed the car and managed to squeeze everything in and still leave enough room for all three of them to sit comfortably and for Isaac to see out the windows as he drove. It was a minor miracle. Marianne passed around snacks and water bottles for the drive. After a prayer, they were on their way.

The drive was lovely. It went from town to farm land to hills to forest. They sang along with the radio for a while and played the alphabet game, but got stuck on “Q.” Then they watched for hawks.

By lunch time, they were driving up to the campsite. Unfortunately, the sign outside said that it was full. “No way,” Charlie said. “Didn’t we have a reservation?”

“They don’t take reservations.” Isaac sighed. “I guess we aren’t the only ones who like to go camping on long weekends.”

“But we planned for everything,” Charlie protested. “What’s our plan now?”

“Yes, what’s the plan?” Marianne said.

“Well…” Isaac thought for a moment. “I know where there is a campsite that’s sure to be open, even on a long weekend with perfect weather.”

“Where?” Marianne asked.

“Our backyard.” Isaac turned the car around. “We’ll eat lunch by the lake and stop for ice cream cones on the way home. Tomorrow we can hike to the park.”

“But what about the camp food?” Charlie asked.

“We’ll cook on the barbecue,” Isaac said. “And we can go swim in the city pool. What do you think?”

The car was silent as Charlie thought about it. “As long as we’re still sleeping in the tent,” he said at last, “I guess it’s still camping.”

Marianne laughed. “I guess it is. We really were prepared for anything.”