Sunday, April 18, 2010

On Worry

There is a saying that comes to mind these days-

Worry is like paying interest on a debt that never comes due.

Worry seems to be in the air. My friends have worries. My family has worries. I have worries.

There are so many worries to have. Health worries. Health insurance worries. Job worries. Money worries. Relationship worries. Worries about the future.

Worries. Worries. Worries. Big Worries.

Mark Twain said, "There has been much tragedy in my life; at least half of it actually happened."

Worry causes such suffering. It can be easy to get swept up in it. After all, we have good reason. Bad things happen. Our worries so often, however, take on a life of their own. We make up stories which feed stories. A comment someone makes at work starts a trail of thoughts which end with us living alone and hungry on the street. A phone call that isn't returned starts a cascade of paranoia that has you obsessing about what terribly offensive thing you might have done. And how unlovable you are. There is always that.

When I look back at all the things on which I have spent emotional energy, I realize that so much of it was needless. Issues that seemed so pressing at one time, often blow over; the problems I anticipated, never coming to fruition or at least not being as traumatic as I expected. Other problems weren't even a slip of a thought and yet they blindsided me with full force. Bad things happen. Worry wouldn't have prevented them.

Not that worry is all bad. On the contrary, worry is an appropriate response to many situations. They say that anxiety actually makes you perform better. When I am worried about a lesson I am about to teach, I plan it a little more carefully, and the result is a stronger lesson and a more confident delivery. Worry informs us. It makes us take action. We fight. We flee. We see a problem and we seek a solution or at least a way to make things easier or a way to deal better what is happening.

The trick is to acknowledge the worry, allow it to have it's role, but to not let it run the whole show. Once again, it is all about balance.

And balance is what I wish for you, as always.



  1. Thanks for those thoughts... I'll try to channel my worries into more productive endeavors. Oh, and I'll call you soon so you don't have to worry about some hypothetical issue getting between us!

  2. Sounds good. The worry train got a little out of control here, but we are back on track now.


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