I should be so happy right now, but I worry over the little things. I blame my mother because she always worried so. Truth is, sure I learned it from her, but I never unlearned it. I never stopped worrying even when I wanted to or knew I should. There’s plenty of things in this life to worry over – health, love, death, those are the things worth worrying about. Logically I know this. It doesn’t stop me from worrying over traffic, time, work things; the little things that I so desperately need to learn to let go of. It’s not even about control, it’s more that when I don’t worry I get burned. But the worry is burning me just as deeply, just slower and more painstakingly so.
I’m 37 years old and honestly wouldn’t be shocked if I had a heart attack. That sounds awful. I mean I don’t want one, who wants to have a heart attack. I’m not wishing for one, but I am too stressed. I need to relax. I don’t just mean the kind of relaxing you do on vacation. – That ends when I return home and the worrying starts. “How much is waiting for me at work? Did that bill ever get mailed? Shouldn’t I have received that phone call by now? Wasn’t that medication due to be refilled? Why is insurance not allowing a refill? Why is this traffic light always red when I’m late? Why does the garbage guy show up just when I want to pull out of the driveway? etc etc etc” I’m doing it now, tonight, at 9:24 PM. I’m thinking about my workday and all the things that did or didn’t go right. I’m thinking about to fix them or how it’ll all play out tomorrow. I’m checking email. I’m downloading applications, configuring things, and I’m doing this stuff to in my mind prevent some imminent disaster. Except, it’s not. The disaster is still probably going to happen. Is it really a disaster? Probably not, but it’ll likely feel like one when it happens.
So maybe it’s not so much that I worry too much, but rather that I let things mean too much. If the work issues weren’t so important to me, than I wouldn’t worry, right? But who doesn’t want to be successful and do a good job and make someone proud?
How can I stop the constant stress if I can’t pinpoint the big issue that most needs to be addressed to stop it? Is it the worrying? Is that I’m a control freak? Is it both? Is it something entirely different, like the fact that I simply don’t shut my mind off well?
I always wondered how others do it. If I’m working on a project and it’s not going well, for whatever the reason, I want to try to fix it or at least provide some kind of mitigation strategy to protect against the issues arising. If those issues and the source of them are entirely out of my control, and the disaster is happening regardless of anything I could or couldn’t do to prevent it, why is it so hard for me to step aside and watch the train crash (metaphorically of course)? The other day my boss said I needed to step outside the train and be watching the crash instead of trying to drive the train car. To which I responded, “but if my children are on the train, how can I in all good faith simply leave them to crash?” She said, “because you have to stop looking at the work situation and your coworkers as your children.” So how do you care less? I mean of course you still need to care on some level, but how when you always cared maybe a little too much, do you tone it back down?
I’ve gotten a little better as I aged. I’m better at bad stress now – ya know the things you can’t expect or plan for, the things most everyone else would totally and justifiably stress out over. Those things I handle well. It’s the things that shouldn’t be so big, that seem big, which I don’t often knock down in perspective. Logically I know they aren’t that big. The world won’t end if something goes wrong at work. The world will still spin if I run late tomorrow. My head is starting to spin now.
I’ve tried yoga. I’ve been told to meditate. These are all nice things, but they haven’t had the long-term guidance and impact I’m looking for. In the moment, when the little things feel big, how do you squash them like the annoying painful stinging bug they are? That’s what I need to learn. Suggestions welcome.