Tag: worry

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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No Worries

When Carson sat down for breakfast, the house started shaking.  At first he thought someone had grabbed the back of his chair and started shaking it.  He turned around, but no one was there, and then he saw the pictures on the wall shaking.  Some pencils rolled off the hall table and rolled around on the floor.

Carson jumped from his chair.  What were you supposed to do during an earthquake?  Run outside?  Hide under the table?  Just then, his mom walked into the kitchen, looking perfectly calm.  “Mom,” Carson said.  “It’s an earthquake.  What do I do?”

“Oh, don’t worry about it, Carson,” his mom said.  She set out two cereal bowls and started pouring cereal.  The cereal flakes jumped around, and a few managed to leap out of the bowl.  His mom set the box on the counter and opened the fridge.  The shaking stopped.

Carson sat down, feeling confused.  Was that it?  His mom poured milk into the bowls and handed him a spoon.  He started eating.  “But it was an earthquake, wasn’t it?  Shouldn’t something bad happen, like the dam bursting and the house flooding?  Something like that?” Read More

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