Worrying is like a rocking chair – it keeps you busy but you don’t get anywhere.
We all worry. We all have pain. Sometimes it’s like an annoying background buzz that won’t leave us alone. Sometimes is an all-consuming writhing on the floor in agony pain.
I want to help you “solve” your worrying. If not the floor-writhing kind, then at least the background buzz kind. (Nope, no guarantees, sorry.)
Why we worry
Worrying is a complex topic. There are a lot of reasons why we worry. And there are a lot of levels from which we can approach the topic.
We can be simplistic and say “we worry because we fear”. But that doesn’t help us in the slightest.
We can delve into evo-psych and look at the origins of the worrying mechanism, what function it plays in our lives. But that might be like learning the number Pi down to a billion decimal places when just knowing 3,14 is plenty for most purposes. So let’s look at worrying in way that allows us to fix it – not too complex, not too simplistic.
Why does one fear not bother us, but another grips us and won’t let go?
Do you worry about rape? Either of you, or of a loved one? Your wife, your girlfriend, your daughter? If you are a women, or you have one in your life, then you’ve probably worried about this at some point.
Are you worried about being able to eat today? Odds are good that if you’re reading this (i.e. internet access, computer access, time to spend reading someone’s blog) then you’re not worried about finding food to eat.
So what’s the (very simplified) difference? Why does one thing worry us a bunch (I have a wife and a daughter), but the other thing not so much?
Answers. We have an answer to the one worry, but not the other.
You’re not particularly worried about not being able to eat today, because you know you have some food in the cupboards, some cash in your wallet, there’s food at the shop, and you have a few relatives you could always bum off of. You have a plan in place to provide your food for today, and you have a back-up plan for just in case
No answers, no plan = I worry
You worry about something when you don’t have a plan for it. You worry when you don’t have an answer “If this happens, then I do that.” An answer you know has a good chance of working.
And like I’m learning about just about everything in life, the way to control your worries, to not let them consume you, is action.
So take action. List your worries (the likely-to-happen ones, not the asteroid-killing-the-Earth kind). Then take action to deal with those worries.
“Planning” is too easy
You could make plans for each of your worries. But it’s too easy to “make a plan” by telling yourself “If this happens I’d so do this and that and the other thing.” Magically turning yourself into Bruce Willis and sneaking around killing all the Bad Guys is a terrible plan. Not because it’s a bad idea, but because if all you do is tell yourself “that’s what I’d do”, then you’re not taking action, and your brain knows you’re likely to fail.
If you’re worried about your house catching fire while you’re in the shower, and your plan is to climb out the window to escape, don’t stop with that. Don’t stop at the plan. Go practice the plan. Go and try climb out the fucking window.
If your plan is the turn into Bruce Willis and kill all the Bad Guys, then go buy a good pistol, and go pay for crap-loads of top-notch training.
A plan you don’t practise isn’t worth the paper it isn’t written on
Maybe you worry about civil unrest. And your plan is to bug out to a relative’s house, far away. Well, you can pack your Bug-Out-Bag with the latest and greatest gadgets and gear. But have you used it? Have you lived out of your bag for a couple days? Even if you’re at home, sleeping on the floor next to your bed (to try out your sleeping system). Brush your teeth out of your toiletries bag. Cook with your cooking gear. Go crap in the toilet if you must, but use your bag’s toilet paper (or whatever solution you have).
If you worry about rape, don’t just warn your girlfriend – go buy her a knife that SHE likes (and will carry – i.e. small, light, NO rough edges or rough surfaces).
Why parents worry (i.e. why we worry more about others than ourselves)
You have worries. But you can make a plan and take definite steps to mitigate what you worry about. You can take action.
You can’t take action for your kids. You can’t take a “be a better driver” class for your kid, and magically they drive safer. You can’t take actions that will magically make sure your kid’s life turns out great. Only your kid can do those things.
That’s why we worry – lack of action to address our fears.
Weeds and roses
You can have a garden full of weeds any time you want – do nothing and the weeds will flourish by themselves.
But if you want roses. A garden full of bloom and beauty. That requires us to get off our ass and Make it happen. To force it to happen against the will of nature.
That’s the essence of man. Of life: Birth is mandatory. Staying alive isn’t. From the moment you’re born everything in life conspires to gang up and kill you. Nature wants you dead so it can recycle nutrients. You have to take action to stay alive. You have to force life to happen against the will of nature.
I’ll give you 3 guesses what happens if you let life happen to you, instead of you happening to life:
List your worries.
Make your plans.