Practicing Worry

Practice Makes Perfect

You know the saying “Practice Makes Perfect?”

I had an aha moment, today watching my kids play.

I’ve been very busy perfecting anxiety.

I was spending a lot of time in next month, worrying about what my routine would be and how I would find meaning in my days and what our income would look like and…

You have to understand, this is not my normal.

The Appointed Worrier

My husband wins the award for always thinking about worst-case scenarios and planning for the worst.

In fact, when we had kids he was so alarmed at my laid back attitude that he officially designated himself as the worrier in the family because, as he put it, somebody’s got to do it

We had a good laugh and I’ve willingly let him assume that role ever since.

Here’s the difference between him and me: he likes thinking through every possibility.  So when he’s planning for worst case scenarios, he’s also planning for best case scenarios.  He’s figuring out what action steps it will take to avoid those pitfalls.  What depresses me is life-giving to him as he plans for ways to stay ahead of disaster.

I’m more of a ready, fire, aim kinda gal: point me in the right direction and off I go, come what may.  If disaster strikes, we’ll deal with it as it comes but rather than living in fear, we’ll just take each day at a time.

There’s a reason God put the two of us together, I think.

Only… I’ve been taking over as the official worrier.  And it turns out I’m really good at it – the worrying part.  I can fret about impossibilities months – even years – in advance!  What if I don’t like my grandchildren?  I caught myself thinking as I watched my 7-year old (!!) play.  

I think I’ve been practicing anxiety.  Like everything else, practice makes perfect.  I am getting awesome at worrying.  Pretty soon my husband will have to hand over his long-held title.  

Only… there’s no life in it for me.  I imagine disasters I can’t control (really?  Grandchildren?). I fret about what my days will look like a month from now.  I wonder if I’ll bring any value to my family if I’m not earning an income or rocking at childcare/housekeeping (because let’s be honest; no matter how much time I have in the day, the house will never sparkle under my care).  I worry that I’ll waste our time or money or fall back into despair or become some kind of freaky fanatic.

Ummm… why?

Ground rules

So I’m laying down some ground rules for myself.

Go ahead and worry.

Yes, you heard me, I’m giving myself permission to hold space for the “what if”s.  Go for it.

But no more obsessing.

Here’s how it works:

I actually write the worry down (I’m afraid my kids won’t have any clean clothes for their upcoming recital!)

If it’s actionable, figure out how to solve that (I literally wrote in my agenda Do laundry the day before.  Honestly, I keep on top of laundry, if no other household chore, so why this worries me is a mystery.)

Now, cross it off the list.  Dealt with.  Next time the what will my kids wear concern comes up, I can dismiss it because I’ve already dealt with it.

What if I don’t like my grandkids is not actionable.  But I can write it down and check it off.  Done.  Now that I’ve worried about that, I won’t have to go back to it for, oh, another couple of decades.  I think we’ll be fine.

You know the silly thing about this routine?  It works!  I have a “to-worry” list that I can check off and continue on my day.  I don’t have to obsess.  And I can stop practicing anxiety, and start practicing the feeling of getting stuff done.  I like that one much better, anyway.

 

2 comments

  1. Great blog. There is only one Matthew with his unique personality that works so well for him. I agree with putting anxiety and worry down on paper or talking about it. I call sharing it putting light on a problem which often makes it vanish. However, all that said I still get anxious and worry. More anxiety for me. So will ponder on your wise words and Matthew’s extremely logical approach

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