Seriously? Is worry something you can try not to do? Really?
I certainly have a lot to worry about – since my husband left I know that we probably can’t continue to run our business together, I’ll probably have to sell the house, and there will be less money around during my retirement than I’d expected.
And what exactly are we doing when we worry about something? I seem to ask myself a lot of ‘what if’ questions. If the answer to the question is obvious, then there’s nothing to worry about. A worry is a ‘What if…?’ question without an obvious answer. Is that a good explanation of worrying?
Or is it more to do with the fear of the unknown – we worry about test results, interviews, people who are ill. Even bad news can be better than not knowing.
Or do we worry when we don’t have control over the situation. Things go wrong, it’s not our fault, but we get the blame anyway. We can spend a lot of time worrying about what will happen next if we’re not in control.
I don’t know. I think I worry about unknown situations more than anything else.
Maybe I’m too laid back – a lot of things don’t worry me. When money was really tight last year, before I got a job and another job, one of my thoughts was ‘What if I can’t afford a holiday?’ But the answer seemed obvious – I just won’t have a holiday. Problem solved. And therefore not something to worry about. And I didn’t have a holiday last year – but as soon as I was able to, I started saving for one this year.
But if there’s an answer to the ‘What if?’ question, then thinking about it isn’t really worrying, it’s just common or garden problem-solving, isn’t it? And sometimes it’s wise to only cross our bridges when we come to them – there’s certainly no point in going looking for bridges to cross.
My thoughts, in the early days just after he’d left, went something like this –
What if I’m no longer getting an income from the business?? Answer – you’ll have to get a job.
What if I can’t get a job?? Life will be difficult, so give yourself the best possible chance of getting a job – register with agencies, take up the offer of interview coaching, have someone look over your CV, do panic.
What if I still can’t get a job?? Life will be difficult and you will feel demoralised, so start to look at other ways of making money – take in a lodger.
What if I don’t have any money coming in at all?? Well – you do still have some money coming in, for a while, so get a grip. But if push comes to shove you’ll have to sell the house, down-size, and start claiming benefits.
Yes, there was lots of problem-solving going on – but was I worrying? Yes – until I found a solution, a plan, a way forward.
Many years ago, when I was working in Ireland, a colleague wanted to pin down where I was ‘from’. I’ve moved around a lot and I don’t think of myself as being ‘from’ anywhere. But he couldn’t understand this – the sense of place is very strong for Irish people. So he reframed the question – ‘Where’s home?’ he asked. ‘Here. I live here’, I replied. That wasn’t the answer he wanted, so he tried again. ‘No, I mean, where do you go back to when you have a problem?’ He assumed I would go back to my parents’ – but they don’t live in the place they’re ‘from’, so that still wouldn’t have answered his question. And besides, that’s not what I would do. ‘Nowhere’, I said, ‘I stay where I am, and I sort it out’.
And I think that’s what I generally do if I have a problem – I stay where I am and I sort it out.
I try not to worry.
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