Anyone else singing the song from the old Disney movie “ Oliver and Company?” Just me? OK, then let’s move on….
Worry. It’s kind of part of the human condition. If you care about anything or anyone in your life you will at some point worry about it or them. The problem is, that sometimes this worry gets in the way of our functioning. It takes us away from being present in this moment because we are still worrying about the last moment or how to face the next.
So is worrying just…bad? The answer is no. We have actually been “gifted” the ability to feel anxious or worried as part of our adaptive functioning to promote our survival. Our flags go up and we do things in order to ensure our safety. That’s a good thing, right? Not always, because sometimes people worry on overdrive, worrying about things that have nothing to do with safety, or things that can’t be controlled, or that they have little influence over. So, then what?
What I will frequently coach clients on is pulling what is useful or productive from their worry. So for example, we worry about our kid’s safety. OK, let’s make that worry productive. Go ahead and tell them to hold your hand or look both ways when they cross the street, buckle their seat belts in the car, and teach them not to speak with strangers, etc. All these things are good things. I encourage clients to respond to the worry in useful ways as long as it doesn’t interfere with their (or in this case, their child’s) functioning. Although it may help to ensure your or your kiddo’s safety, never leaving the house really isn’t an option, because that impacts the overall functioning of everyone involved.
But because anxiety and worry can be a real jerk sometimes it will always remind you of the “what ifs”. The elements you can’t control. This is the worry where there is nothing productive to pull from it. So what do you do with that? The answer is: you learn to let it go.
The sad truth is, somewhere today someone is worrying about something bad happening. They are overcome with the worry. Maybe it is even incapacitating them in some way. And, then the bad thing still happens. The worry did absolutely NOTHING to affect the outcome of what the person was worrying about. It only robbed them of any joy or experience of being present leading up to the event. The worry served no purpose but to make that person feel like garbage. The outcome may remain the same, but in letting go, the person has a better overall quality of life.
So, Elsa style (man I’m on a Disney kick today) we need to let go of that residual worry, which is easier said then done. So stay tuned, because my next blog post will include some tips/tricks on how to do just that. And as always, feel free to reach out with any questions you may have.