I recently noticed a trend in myself and my clients–we’ve been doing a lot of worrying. Spending a lot of time in our heads, thinking through different aspects of various scenarios, playing out options and potential decisions, and fretting about how things are going to turn out.
I learned a while back that worry is really just an intellectual attempt to feel in control, usually of a situation that is largely (or wholly) not within our control. And it’s so tempting, right? To feel as though, “if I just spend enough time thinking through ALL the ways this could go, then I’ll be prepared for anything.”
And, in reality, that’s just not true. There’s no way to be prepared for anything (as appealing as that might sound). And all worry ends up doing is ruining our present while we’re busy trying to figure out the future, as if that’s something we can even do. But at least the time and energy spent on worry keeps our feelings at bay, right? Because that’s what we’re really trying to do: escape the discomfort of feeling. Feeling helplessness, vulnerability, grief, fear, and so much more. And I get it. I’ve been doing it myself. A LOT! But when we use worry to keep our feelings at bay, it usually ends up keeping away ALL the feelings, including joy.
The good news is that I have tools to help me get out of my head and into my body and my heart, to stop thinking about the past or the future and living in the present. It takes practice… to remember to turn to my tools instead of getting lost in the worry. One of my “hacks” for remembering is to give myself lots of visual cues, one of which is the sweatshirt I have with this saying on it: WHAT IF IT ALL WORKS OUT? (You can get yours from Self Care is for Everyone.) And that reminder that I might be able to trust that everything will work out (whether or not I “figure it out”), is often SO reassuring. So when I find myself being tempted to get lost in the worry, I reach for my sweatshirt and remind myself that things might “work out” just fine. I’ve worn it every day for more than a week.
Sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn’t. But I’m practicing.