I’m a worry wart from way back.
Even when there is nothing to be worried about, trust me I will worry about it. Maybe it’s because I care too much and consequently absorb too many inner thought bubbles and somehow believe it will manifest itself as reality.
As a people pleaser (not a purple people eater), I spend days upon days worrying about what others are thinking of me or worrying about whether the world will implode if I don’t bust my gut trying to please them all.
Sometimes you think you’ve nailed it. “Don’t worry about what other people think, you can’t please everyone”. Phew! I think I’ve got it. Then suddenly you get barked at for doing something you didn’t think was wrong, you get served because you accidentally took the last piece of leftover lasagne in the fridge, you can’t enjoy brunch with one friend since you’re too busy looking at your watch every 10 seconds because you’re having lunch with another friend at 12 because you didn’t want to let one of them down… Take a breath. (TRUE STORIES).
So you’ve got all these nagging thoughts spinning around in your head, which in turn create a few more nagging thoughts. As a worrier about any impending worry the next day, there is no way a decent night’s sleep is on the cards. Not only will my brain not shut off even when you tell it very firmly to turn the lights off upstairs, you start having dreams about the worst case scenario worry. The constant battle with my brain is exhausting:
Body: Ok brain let’s go to sleep now
Brain: Yea sure but just one more thing
Body: *Sigh* FINE
Brain: Also can we go back to that last point you worried about
Body: No we need to go to sleep
Brain: Ok, but just one more thing!
So as you can see I am no stranger to the powerful negative effects a life of worry can have on your happiness. And no matter how hard you try to not let them invade your mind, a happy life can never be 100% perfection.
But here’s the thing: most of the things you worry about have never actually happened in the first place. Winston Churchill was onto a good thing when he said:
“When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.”
You hear that brain?
How many of the things I feared would happen in my life actually happen? Answer: not many, if any (thanks Scribe).
And the things you thought you knew about what people thought of you are never the things you thought you thought you knew <———- Worrying thoughts are just as confusing and redundant as that sentence.
Worries are the monsters you build and manufacture in your own mind. The one with five eyes, 9 tentacles, lazer beams for eyes, and who is 10 feet tall is all your own doing.
Writing this is a gentle reminder for me and for all of the worriers out there to think of how little our worries actually come to life, to stay calm and to stop the worried thought in its tracks before it becomes the giant five-eyed monster.
When certain fears feel vague in your mind and when you lack clarity, it is very easy to get lost in exaggerated worries and full-blown emergency disaster scenarios. Find the clarity you need by being realistically upfront with “what’s the worst that could happen?”
In my experience the worst that could happen is usually not as scary as anything my mind could make up. And if there is something that you should be worried about then take the logical approach and work on ways to fix it.
You’re not a mind reader either. Trying to read someone’s mind usually doesn’t work too well at all. It can very easily lead to an imagined exaggeration that ends in explosion. COMMUNICATE COMMUNICATE COMMUNICATE. And pick the best bunch of friends you can ask for. If they have a problem they’ll tell you.
People don’t think about you nearly as much as you may think. If they do, I always tend to believe that they a) have no life or b) have a serious obsession with you. Teenage girls worrying about whether a guy likes them is the funniest thing you will ever see. The girl is wound so tight: does he like me, was that bum scratch a sign that he likes me, is he talking about me to his mates? NO. There is a monkey playing the symbols inside his brain.
I always exercise when things get a bit too much. Working out consistently, going for a walk, soaking up the fresh oxygen and sweating it out to release the tension. Even though working out helps me to build a stronger body and maintain those fitness levels, using a boxing bag on top of many other things has wonderful mental benefits.
Let that big worry out. If you talk to someone you’re close with about the monster, it becomes so much easier to see the situation for what it really is. Having a vent can make all the difference and realise how silly you were for letting the worry in in the first place. If you can’t talk to anyone, write it down. Vomit the words all over paper. It’s a great release.
Sounds easy? It never is, but it certainly helps. You don’t want to be on you death bed coming to the realisation that all your imagined troubles in life never actually happened. Don’t be that guy.