Are You Friends with Worry?

Beautiful sky.

I am the kind of person who worries about pretty much everything. And if I’m not worrying about what might happen, I’m goading myself to work harder and hurry up so that nothing will go wrong and the earth can go on spinning. I wonder if you can relate to this. 

Here are a few ways that looks in my life. 

When I was completing my first graduate degree, I went to school full time, five days a week, and completed one course per month over the course of a year to get my business credentials. In this fast-paced setting, projects and papers were due with fairly consistent regularity. And often before those projects and papers were due, I would spend days and days worrying about them and hounding myself for not being further along in completing them.

This worry and hounding would last until the day before the assignment was due, when I would finally sit down and churn out a fairly coherent and solid product upon the first try.

All that worry was for nothing.

Thankfully, by the time I started work on my second graduate degree, I had learned to trust my process and worried and hounded myself so much less. 

Here’s a second way worry looks in my life.

I will formulate a plan and use all my strength and energy to make every component of that plan work. When things go wrong (as they invariably do), anxiety rises and so does that goading voice inside my head. Hurry up, it says. Work harder. Work faster. Get it together. Things fall apart and it’s all your fault. 

If I were one step removed from the reality of the situation, I would recognize that voice for what it is and tell it to shut its trap and go take a big, long hike. But in the thick of the situation, I’m not removed from it. I’m trying to figure things out and get the plan accomplished. 

What I’ve found to be the case, again and again, is that things come together just as they’re meant to.

Things fall apart from the original plan because that original plan was flawed, or the timing wasn’t right yet, or new information had yet to come to light. All the time I spent worrying is usually, in the end, wasted time — not to mention how it tears me apart on the inside.

I’ve been working on this area of worry in my life lately.

I’ve been learning to settle into the process of how things need to unfold. I’ve been learning to trust that when things aren’t working out as planned, it’s usually for good reason. And I’ve been learning to embrace the developmental process that has absolutely nothing to do with whether I’m holding things together perfectly enough or not. 

Can you relate to this struggle with worry? Do you have your own goading, hounding voice to contend with? What does it say? What have you learned through experience is the fruit of your worry?