I’ve been a worrier for the most part of my life.
I remember being about 7 years old, sitting in the playroom of my aunt’s house with my 3-year old sister- my older cousin was babysitting us. All of the sudden, my sister picked up something that looked like an unwrapped piece of candy and showed it to my cousin who said something to the effect of “it’s candy, bro, you can eat it” and as she put the piece of candy in her mouth, I started screaming “Nooooo!!!”
Everything went into that slow-motion, as I thought to myself “This is it, this is how it happens. Mom is going to kill me for letting this happen”- I was convinced that she was going to die. I started crying, trying to get my sister to spit it out, while my cousin laughed at me. When we got home that night and were put to sleep, I kept getting up to check if my sister was still breathing. I stayed up all night that night, worrying about my little sister dying.
I think that might have been one of my first mini panic attacks…. pretty funny now that I think about it, but back then, I was definitely terrified.
Growing up, my life was filled with a lot of worries. My grandparents always gave me little speeches about how dangerous the world is, that I should never talk to strangers. I’d always hear adults in my life talk about things that they’d hear on the news, and as you can imagine, most of the time it wasn’t pretty. This sort of turned me into a paranoid little girl who didn’t trust anyone.
Another now funny but then terrifying story was when I was about 10 and was walking to my music class. It was winter, I wasn’t wearing gloves, carrying my violin and as I left the house, it started to snow. I knew I had gloves in my pocket, but I refused to put my violin in the snow in order to put them on. I felt someone walk behind me, and as I turned around, I noticed that it was one of our elderly neighbors, most likely on her way to church. She noticed me, came up to me and said “my God, aren’t you cold? Don’t you have gloves?” I said I did have gloves, but there were in my pocket “well, let me hold your violin and you can put them on” she said. I looked her right in the eyes, pushed her hand away and shouted “NO!” and then I started to run….. Yes, I thought that poor old lady was going to steal my violin and run away with it.
As I got older, my worrying eventually turned into anxiety and I was pretty miserable for a couple of years. Worrying drained my energy, I felt displaced and I knew that I was missing out on life. If you’re a worrier, the best thing you can do is develop some healthy ways of dealing with your worry and/or anxiety.
EMBRACE YOUR MISTAKES
Do you self-criticize after making a mistake? If you do, you probably know that it doesn’t make things any better- it actually makes them worse. Try to challenge your need for perfectionism and embrace your mistakes. Have you ever heard of wabi-sabi? It’s a Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection, beauty that is imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. This is something that can also be applied to life, not just art. The fact that you make mistakes is what makes you authentic, so if you happen to make them, don’t beat yourself up, embrace it. Forgive yourself and move on.
CHANGE YOUR PERSPECTIVE
You know that I’m all about sending out positive vibes, positive thinking and all that, but it’s easier said than done, right? Whenever I start feeling worried about something, I try to put things into perspective, asking myself, will this matter to me, a year from now?
SOLVE YOUR PROBLEMS, RIGHT AWAY
This is probably the best piece of advice I can give you. If there are any things in your life that cause problems, whether it be a bad relationship, a financial or work situation- try to resolve those problems right away and don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you keep putting things like that off, you will keep worrying about them which can get exhausting.
When I started college I was convinced that I wanted to go to medical school. I spent three years as a pre-med major even though I started doubting my path just after the first semester. I was so worried about what my college advisor or even worse, my family, would think. I was so afraid of disappointing everyone who was so proud of me, I felt this tremendous amount of pressure- I couldn’t sleep and every day I kept telling myself that I’ll go talk to my advisor “tomorrow.” When I finally got the courage to change my major, I felt so relieved and amazed at just how supportive of my choice everyone was. Things are never as bad as we imagine them to be, so if there are any “lingering” problems or issues in your life that you know you can take care of but keep putting it off- get it over with.
STOP WATCHING THE NEWS
Look, I know that some of you might think that this is ignorant, but that’s okay. I stopped watching the news and reading newspapers years ago and there is definitely a lot less worry in my life. When was the last time you saw something happy and positive on news? Both news and newspapers have a negative influence on your life.
I see this happen at work all the time- we come in, have some coffee, someone picks up a newspaper and starts “oh my God, did you hear about this?” and that’s were I usually have to remove myself from a conversation because I know that whatever follows, will most likely not be anything positive. People read their morning newspapers as they’re eating their breakfast, they’re listening to the news as they’re getting ready for the day- they chose to start their day on a negative note. Because negativity sells. If there’s anything major happening, I always chose to do my own research and try to get my “news” from an unbiased source. Watching news always made me feel paranoid, scared and convinced that something bad was going to happen to me or someone I love. Try giving yourself a little detox and go without news for a week and see how you feel.
Meditation does wonders for a stressed, worried mind. It gives your mind a little break, eases it and helps to clear your focus. If you feel your mind racing, you’re stressed and/or need help with difficult emotions- try meditating. If you don’t know where to start- click here.
Are you a worrier? Do you have a system for dealing with those emotions?