There is a current thinking highlighted in the book Outliers, where author Malcolm Gladwell reports that if you want to become expert at something spend 10,000 hours doing it. (There are 8,760 hours in one normal year and 8,784 hours in leap year.)
Based on time put in, I have earned a doctorate in the art of worrying. Though I know many folks who are much better at it than I am, I have put in the time.
Today I don't worry. If I take an honest look back on my life, worry was my middle name.
I worried about not being pretty, being hairy, having small breasts, not having a boyfriend, appearing poor, being recognized as a pitiful, frightened, dumb, ugly girl.
I worried about being found out for my physicality – revealing the episodes with my uncle when he would touch me under the covers.
There was so much to worry about.
My 2 brothers and I were always in trouble; for making noise, fighting, knocking things down, making a mess, and not doing chores. Disturbing the calm my mother tried to create in her world.
I worried that I wouldn’t make it into heaven. If I were bad and got hit by a car before I made it to confession – then it was hell for eternity.
As I grew up I worried about other things – mostly related to men, to sex, to not getting pregnant, to not getting caught by the cops for the pot in my pocket, or the coke in the car, or just getting into trouble for being alive. For being found out.
Likely, I had already put in my 10,000 hours by the time I was 10. Moving into the hundred thousands of hours by the time I hit 30.
What worry is:
A series of repetitive thoughts. Catastrophizing. Heart racing, stomach clenching– on the verge of hysteria actually. Energy spent to keep myself from exploding. Imagining my worst fears. Distraction from feeling my worst fears. An illusion that there is an answer in it.
What worry isn’t.
Creating a solution. Influencing the outcome in a positive way.
Worrying is a poor investment of your time.
What to do instead?
Take a more curious approach.
Ask yourself: “What is happening? Have I really done anything wrong?” If I have made a mistake, can I apologize and make it right? Can I learn from it? If I haven’t done anything wrong, recognize that feeling or sensation of worry and use my brain and a pen and paper and write about it. What can I change? If I feel afraid, can I find healthy tools to calm me? Can I take 3 deep breaths? Can I focus my thoughts on my surroundings and what is happening right now? Can I take a walk? Can I write a gratitude list? Can I call a friend?
If you suffer from worry and want to stop, give me a call. We can share 30 minutes on the phone in a complimentary discovery session and I can share some tools that have worked for me.
To come: Part 2 - Worrying about you.