Motherhood Unplugged – Let’s Talk About Worry
Emma Bombeck says that “Worry is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere”.
I can’t remember the first time I ever worried but I suspect I was really young, like still-in-nappies-kind-of-young.
And I believe this to be the case because my mum always told me I was a born worrier.
As a little girl, I would follow her around the house, with a pacifier in my mouth and beloved, dirty, spit-filled rug in my hands. Wherever my mum stopped to work in the house, I would drop my rug on the floor and lay down, waiting for her to finish up and move to another room. I was so anxious that she would leave me, hence my constant game of follow-the-leader.
As such a small person, it sounded like I had a lot of worries on my tiny shoulders.
I think in total I have spent many, many years worrying. About everything and nothing and all the useless stuff and only a tiny portion of the noteworthy stuff.
My mind had tricked me into thinking
that if I didn’t think about it
and be acutely aware of it, it would happen.
Then I became a mother and my worrying took on epic proportions.
Holding those tiny humans and realising they relied on me for their everything, utterly terrified me. I well remember literally being paralysed with fear that I would drop my newborns in my sleep-deprived fog that lasted months.
It was all in graphic detail, played over and over in my head.
I would be holding them, trip up on something and those small, fragile bundles would fly out of my arms and crash onto the floor. I would see myself screaming, hands over my mouth, too scared to check if they had sustained massive damage to their delicate skulls.
In reality, the actual statistics of parents tripping and dropping their newborns is very small (yes I actually Googled it). One article published on this subject says that “In the end, the parent might suffer more than the baby does if dropped. The overall outcome is generally that the parents are damaged for life from worry, and the babies are fine”.
That’s if you do drop your baby and guess, what? I didn’t. Ever.
Sooooo much worry over something that never happened.
This was my absolute nightmare and it taunted me day and night. Not just for the first few children but with all of my six babies. And I foolishly believed that because my fear of dropping my babies was so strong and so real, it was actually going to happen.
My mind had tricked me into thinking that if I didn’t think about it and be acutely aware of it, it would happen.
Now I am older (cough-cough) and hopefully slightly wiser, I realise that those thoughts were a complete lie.
Read that again, my thoughts were a complete lie.
Worrying about the future doesn’t
make your future more secure.
In fact, they were, what I now term, ‘The Worry Lies’.
It’s something I talk about a lot with my older children, which is just because they think it might happen doesn’t make it fact.
To put it more simply, worrying about the future doesn’t make your future more secure. Worrying steals your joy in the present and places a cloud over your future anything because you are so concerned that something bad will happen.
I personally found my 40’s (so far) to be the most wonderful and freeing time of my life and the main reason for that is because I finally shed ‘The Worry Lies’.
My motto in the family is ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff”.
Talk to me about the important stuff, the big stuff, the things that need my attention today, but worrying, about something that could/would/ should/maybe happen?
I don’t have time for that.
Or more importantly, I don’t have mental space for that.
This doesn’t mean I don’t worry ever because that’s not true. My mind will always revert to worry mode if I let it.
What it does mean is that I am aware of my thoughts and realise pretty quickly when I am in a worry spiral.
The fact is that there are some things we should worry about. The important things. The ones that require our careful thoughts.
But the big problem is when you worry about everything and your brain is so full of concern over all the stuff, it’s truly hard to recognise those things that do need considered attention.
What to do then?
I find it useful to write my worries down. The ones that I have zero control over, I cross out and then erase from my mind. When I find myself straying back to those concerns, I picture the ‘worry words’ on the page and the red line drawn through them and say to myself, “There is nothing you can do about that”.
And I let it go.
You may be surprised, like I was, that close to 95% of my worries, never actually happened. They were fictional.
The remaining small 5% did need my attention and after a few small tweaks and changes positively, those worries were no more.
Which means, basically, I spent the majority of my life worrying for nothing. Zip. Zilch. Total time-waster.
I believed for so many years, that nobody else would understand how strong my thoughts were and actually, I felt a little silly even talking about them. But that’s part of ‘The Worry Lies’, they paralyse us on the spot. They make us feel frightened and inadequate and really dumb – all at the same time.
I would love to hear your stories of worry and fears in the comments section.
Maybe beginning a conversation today and releasing even one of those worries will be the first step for you to take control of ‘The Worry Lies’.
A near worry-free existence is possible. Believe me, if I can do it, you definitely can.