Monday, October 13, 2008


Needless Fear

We have all had the experience of worrying about something at some point in our lives. Some of us have a habitual tendency to worry, and all of us have known someone who is a chronic worrier. Worry is an extension of fear and can be a very draining experience. In order for worry to exist, we have to imagine that something bad might happen. What we are worrying about has not happened yet, however, so this bad thing is by definition a fantasy. Understood this way, worry is a self-created state of needless fear. Still, most of us worry.

One reason we worry is because we feel like we're not in control. For example, you might worry about your loved ones driving home in bad weather. There is nothing you can do to guarantee their safe passage, but you worry until you find out they have reached their destination unharmed. In this instance, worry is an attempt to feel useful and in control. However, worrying does nothing to ensure a positive outcome and it has an unpleasant effect on your body, mind, and spirit. The good news is that there are ways to transform this kind of worry so that it has a healing effect. Just as worry uses the imagination, so does the antidote to worry. Next time you find that you are worrying, imagine the best result instead of anticipating the worst outcome. Visualize your loved ones' path bathed in white light and clearly see in your mind's eye their safe arrival. Imagine angels or guides watching over them as they make their way home. Generate peace and well-being instead of nervousness and unease within yourself.

Another reason we worry is that something that we know is pending but are avoiding is nagging us-an unpaid parking ticket, an upcoming test, an issue with a friend. In these cases, acknowledging that we are worried and taking action is the best solution. If you can confront the situation and own your power to change it, you'll have no reason to worry.

For as long as I can remember, I have been a worrier. As a child, I would make myself sick with worry, and the habit continued into adulthood. I've tried therapy, medication, church, self-help groups, hypnosis, you name it..anything to stop the constant voice of doom booming through my brain. Some things helped a bit, others not so much, but I've learned to turn down the anxiety to a manageable level - most of the time. However, when life gets unusually hectic or there's big changes on the horizon, I easily slip back into my anxious mode and allow the worry to consume me. Now is one of those times. I was up and down all night with random thoughts running through my head, and when I was able to slip into a fitful sleep I was then overcome with ugly, frightening dreams.

Suffice it to say I'm not in the best frame of mind this morning, so I'm doing a bit of pondering and soul searching, reaching for the tried & true tools that worked in the past when I found myself in this state.

First, I made a list of the issues that are causing me the most grief, and I'll share them here along with any possible action I can take to rectify the situation:

Mom's Health. This one is a biggie, and what I worried about most as a little girl. She was often sick and in the hospital (illnesses unrelated to what she's going through now) and I was terrified of losing her, just as I am today. What can I do? Absolutely nothing. She's getting the best medical care possible and the only thing for me to do is continue to stay positive and spend as much time with her as possible.

Beren's children. This is first and foremost in my mind as we they were visiting us over the weekend so the issues were able to rear their ugly heads. I'm tired of spending two days nervous and strained, uncomfortable in my own home. What can I do? Well, we have had numerous talks with them in an attempt to make things better but at this point we've hit a wall. Other than therapy which they are not receptive to, I fear that I'm at a loss. The only action I can take right now is to continue to care for them and be open to discussion/change when they are ready. I have to take a step back from the situation and untangle myself from the emotions just a bit; the situation is taking a toll on me physically at this point and I have got to stop that before it gets worse.

Lily's Possible Move. She's been talking about this for some time, has made two road trips to check out the town & college she's considering. Though I realize that it's a normal, natural progression - kids go away to school, I truly don't think she's prepared for it, not emotionally or financially. This is no reflection on her, we all think we are invincible and immortal at 18, but I am terrified for her nonetheless. What can I do? Probably not much. I've laid out my concerns, have clearly told her how much money she can count on from me, the rest is up to her. All I can do is love her and support her as best I can while feeling strongly that this particular decision is a mistake. Letting go is the hardest thing, it really is.

Money. I'm not alone in this, every day I hear friends and acquaintances bemoan the economy, worrying about what they are going to do if it doesn't pick up. In 6 months or so I'm going to lose a chunk of monthly income and need to prepare for that, but there are too many unknown variables for me to make a concrete decision at this point. So, what to do? Tweak the budget more, watch our expenses, tighten our belts, and hope for the best.

My Weight
. If I were completely honest I'd put this closer to the top of the list because it truly affects nearly every other aspect of my life. Worry = emotional eating = weight gain = low self-esteem = more emotional eating. Stuff the feelings down because there's apparently not a damned thing I can do to rectify any of the above issues so I might as well console myself with cake, right? What can I do? This is perhaps the hardest one of all because I actually can do something proactive and positive yet it's so f-ing hard! I need to eat healthier and exercise. Period. Starting today, starting now, no matter what else. I must, absolutely must start taking better care of myself or I'm going to add my own ill health to this list of worries.

So, that's where my head is this morning. I am actually at home today, have some things to take care of that prohibit me from going in to the office, so I have time to think (not worry) some more and make a plan of action.

If anyone has thoughts or suggestions I am wide open for them.

Thank you, and Blessings...


Catherine said...

worry seems unescapable this days....I'm convinced though that having a plan - the methodical structure...can only help. Hugs.

Rapunzel said...

Catherine, the feeling of powerlessness so so frustrating, isn't it?

Robbin with 2 B's! said...

All I can offer is a hug, and just a cyber one at that, but still a hug. Take care of yourself first and foremost.

Susan said...

Hey, M ~

As you are well aware, my husband is a chronic worrier - I don't know whether he does more of it because I *don't*... or if I don't, because he does enough for both of us!

I'm always gently reminding him of The Serenity Prayer... and lovingly sharing that he misses present moments when he worries about the future...

All easier said than done, of course - these days, I'm loving Christine Kane's new mantra: Just This (as in, one thing at a time, my dear friend... <3 )

Helena S. said...

I would be more concerned if you never worried about anything. I worry a lot too, but then again at other times I'm much happier than most people. Up and down, you see. :-)

And I'm constantly watching my weight too - and eating candy at the moment. AAargh!!!

Teacats said...

Worried to a state of tears this morning at Rosemary Cottage! My mum (88) is not well back in our hometown of Toronto -- and simply running back at the instant of my sister's call is untenable for at least a week (to prepare, decide on travel times, home and cat arrangements etc.) And now -- I feel I am caught (yet again) between worry, frustration and simple unreasonable anger! Just a very bad moment here that will indeed must pass -- and realize that decisions will be made in their own time. So I send along a mutual cyber-hug -- and will ask the Universe, the Stars and the Powers for strength of purpose and time to implement a wide range of decisions for both me -- and you!

Jan at Rosemary Cottage who has eaten her way through a bag of tiny cinammon bagels!

Rapunzel said...

Robbin, thank you, my friend.

Rapunzel said...

Susan, words of wisdom indeed! I only wish I could follow that sage advice..sigh...

Rapunzel said...

Helena, dear, I am the same way! With the high highs come the low lows, right?

Rapunzel said...

Jan, I am so sorry to hear about your Mom! Sending you cyber hugs, too, dear friend.

Aisling said...

I'm kind of a worrier too, Rapunzel, so I don't really have any good advice. Just hang in there!

love and hugs,

Rapunzel said...

Thank you, Aisling.


Deb said...

I come from a long line of worriers and am afraid I may have passed it onto my children. My husband often helps me by reminding me that my worrying will change nothing - simple advice but it often helps me get past the worry - even if just for a short while. I think making the list is a good strategy also. Take care of yourself!

Julie said...

My Mother was my mentor in times like these. She could listen to me, weeding out the garbage and in the most simple way offer up suggestions and ideas that seemed to clear the fog and confusion away. Now that she is gone, I feel your pain. I am also restless and confused about things.

I recite a Bible verse at night sometimes about being one of God own and how he gives his chidren rest. I have also 'instructed' my husband to patiently listen to me when I need him too. That too has helped me sort through some though decisions. Other than that, I tried to keep focused on good things to come...and working on putting more work into some things - instead of more money! Did any of that help you? I felt as though I have been walking in your path as I read your post. (((hugs)))

Mother of Invention said...

Wow...I'm impressed and appreciative of how honest you are here. You obviously have a handle on all the factors that contribute to your feelings of worry and of course, they all compund together in an interconnected way so it's hard to deal with them separately but I guess that's where you need to start.

One thing you seem to do a lot of is go out to places of entertainment and food so I guess if you tried to cut down on the times you do that, it would be easier on the budget and lower your consumption of extra calories in food/alcohol. If you have wine, beer etc. at home try switching to diet sodas with lemon etc. (I never have any alcohol because I'd rather eat my calories! Same with juice...always have the fruit's better fiber too.)

You love to cook and at least you're getting unprocessed food. They say cutting down the portions helps. Everyone I know who has lost weight and kept it off, has switched to low carb/lower fat ...and that means cutting out a lot of pasta, and when you use it, always use whole wheat for the fibre. Increasing fibre helps too so keep on eating all those kind of salad vegetables and bran/oatmeal cereal.
And..a big one here is baking! It must be hard to bake for your family and not eat it! Maybe you could explain to them that you are just not going to do so much, only for special times. I know a lot about nutrition since I'm diabetic and I go on and off my diet like a yo-yo and so does my weight but I do know that when you stick to a good diet, it works. The book about low glycemic index helped me realize what's in everything and how it matters how fast the carb enters your body and how important fibre is. Getting that book would be really helpful for you especially if you have any risk factors for diabetes.

Another thing is that if you really started working out more, even with a fast walk for 30 min./day, this helps immensely. I go myself but if you have a friend that'll go, all the better. Swimming is great too. I go almost every day for about 35 min. but I'm a lousy swimmer so I wear a life belt.

All this is easy for me to say but I don't always do it either...I binge eat and medicate myself with food too so I know what it feels like. I just can't have the stuff around or I eat it. I don't know how much of this you already do so I just put it out there.

Don't know how you can help with beren's girls and I don't know the real issues so if you keep the lines of communication open and make them feel equally special to everyone else, I'd say that's as much as you can do.

Good luck with all this and keep us posted on how things are going.
You have so much to offer your family and I hope they appreciate your efforts and are supportive. You seem very open so keep on sharing with them how you feel.

Rapunzel said...

Mother of Invention, thank you so much for taking the time to write such a lengthy comment! You have given some sage advice there, thank you.

Rapunzel said...

Thank you, Julie and Deb, for your kind words.