Ok ‘fess up – are you a worrier?
I don’t mean the odd feeling of concern or care for someone or a situation but the stomach churning, keeping you awake at night, majorly panicked by more things than not default pattern of behaviour that has become the norm for you?
If there was one negative emotion I would remove from our mind set and the world at large it would be the act of worrying.
I saw a lovely client this week who is almost at the end of her much longed for pregnancy and a longish journey to motherhood which is going text book well, marred only by the constant worry she feels about what may or may not go wrong. If she hears of the good fortune of others she worries she will be the “unlucky one”, whilst they will all stay sitting pretty.
Even though she has crossed many hurdles and has widespread assurances from many medical professionals she still feels the fear of the negative and the not so good.
When she spoke to her mother recently she only added to her panicky feelings by sharing that she is also worried about her daughter and worried about her ability to cope post birth. For good measure she shared her story of not coping when she became a new mother herself to reassure her adult child it would be ok not to cope!
Whilst I know this message was said with love, did this fill my lovely client with strength, confidence and the belief that whatever eventuated she would find her way and manage? Of course not! It totally tapped into the deep rooted fear she has that somehow her life is to be beset with difficulties and perpetuated the cycle!
As a therapist I totally understand anxiety. I support, sympathise and empathise because I can see how debilitating it can be but it is such a pointless and powerless emotion. It serves no purpose at all except to stress, weaken and wear out your resources. Silently tapping away at your invisible armour until you are left naked and shivering in the cold – even in July!
As a friend, sister and daughter I hear about personal worries all the time. We fret, we frown, we sigh, we cry, all to really no avail.
The argument of “I’m a worrier” holds no mustard with me. How we think is a choice. We can believe we are weak and incapable of weathering a storm or we can believe we are strong, courageous and able. “Is that the best you can do?” is one of my favourite lines from Jim Carey in “The Truman Show”. Bring it on basically, I’m ready for you.
When I received the call that the man I was in love with had been seriously injured my immediate feeling wasn’t so much worry but a rush of love and a huge desire to protect and see him. As I got closer I realised the severity of the situation and then the worry and high level anxiety kicked in. I felt powerless, out of my depth and in despair.
The day after his death I remember literally wailing with grief at my loss and my biggest fear was how was I going to cope without him. I genuinely didn’t believe I could survive life on my own. Although it was an incredibly painful process and the road to recovery was long it has left me with the feeling of quite an unshakeable core and raised confidence level. There is genuinely not so much that I worry about now.
I was told recently that energetically, it’s as if I have a rod of steel going straight up my back. It makes me feel pretty great and kind of super hero-ish! Steel Rod Girl. I can see myself pulling it out like a sword in times of trouble and the warrior in me using it to slay all in my path.
This is not the same as saying nothing bad, sad, difficult or distressing will ever happen and upset me. Or that I am hardened or impervious to pain. I do have moments when my instinct is to fear the worst and have that familiar knot in my stomach.
But I now have a strong belief system that I will be able to tackle whatever comes my way (with a lot more deft and skill than the current England team I hasten to add) and I am grateful to now feel this way. I now b-r-e-a-t-h-e through it.
Over my career I have supported mothers with babies who are stillborn, seriously ill or disabled and am amazed at the strength and fortitude they find. Real life can be scary and challenging but fictitious might’s are worse. Spending time thinking, using our energy and worrying about this imaginary possibility doesn’t better equip you for the reality. At the end of the day it just tires you out.
As a new mother or mother-to-be the desire to worry is great. There are so many things to think about and that in itself can be scary and overwhelming. I understand that.
But worrying doesn’t change the fact and often skews to give a make belief scenario a far more negative effect.
Worry is not going anywhere unless we kick it to the curb. I shared this with my client and we will work on an easy-peasy gratitude practice to prompt simple daily reminders of the good reality she is experiencing – rather than the not-so-good-maybe’s that are not. Flexing and building her confidence muscle and her belief that good things are in her present and future – she just needs to see them and look for them first.
As Arianna Huffinton says “Fearlessness is like a muscle. I know from my own life the more I exercise it the more natural it becomes to not let my fears run me.”
It takes practice – and celebrating each small win, calmer achievement and positive experience until you feel more ready to handle life bigger challenges. I believe that’s part of my role – providing her with support and confidence at this time and helping her re-frame her mindset to be more naturally positive. We all benefit from a boost from time to time.
Life is what we make it and if I were making up the rules the W-word and its negative connotations would be banished forever.
Love to know what you think and if you feel you would benefit from some calmness coaching give me a call.