Don’t Worry So Much

I wish I didn’t have to worry so much about every little thing. I just do.

And please don’t roll up, talking to me about Mindfulness and Yoga, Tai Chi, Long Woodland Walks and Deep Breathing. I get the idea, really, thanks very much. I think it’s just the way I am, a bit of genetic programming gone awry, a short circuit in the worry-gene.

I worry about stuff. Tiny little things can grab my mind and exercise it for hours and days on end. 

‘Gosh,’ you might say, ‘if you worry so much about the little things, how on earth do you cope when there are great big things to worry about?’ 

Interestingly enough, the answer to that is ‘just the same’. I seem to worry exactly the same amount about teeny things as I do about bloody-great things. There’s no sense of proportion. Perversely, this means that I deal quite well with the huge worries in my world. I guess my mind is so adept at constantly worrying about the minutia that it’s well prepared for the serious stuff. Maybe that’s just silly. I worry that is the case. 

Some times are worse than others. Conversely some times are better. These current days seem to carry a high ‘worry about stupid things’ quotient. Bah. It’s very annoying.

Of course, I’m fully aware of the stupidity and pointlessness of it all. While one side of my brain is worried obsessively about some letter that I might have forgotten to post, the other side is busy reviling it for being a twat. It’s all very tiring.

It can distract from a sunny day or a good book. It can wrap you up in a damp sticky sort of cotton wool stuff that is neither comforting nor warm.

And I wish I didn’t do it.

There was a lady on the radio the other morning giving a very good interview. Bit by bit, her eyesight is failing. It is reducing down to a single tiny dot and then there will be nothing but darkness. Bit by bit, her hearing is also failing. Soon there will only be silence. Her attitude was wonderful, she is grabbing at every experience, filing them away where she can enjoy them when there are no new visual or aural ones to be enjoyed. She ‘keeps on keeping on’ despite everything. I respect her attitude enormously. Of course, she makes me feel foolish. I really must do better at 'not sweating the petty things'. I owe more to this wonderful life than to mooch around inside it, befuddled by little irrelevancies.

Maybe I’m learning. 

On Friday, I stood at Mum and Dad’s graveside and thought a bit more about this. All of their day-to-day worries are laid to rest now and have been for a long time. The things that seemed earth-shattering and insurmountable… well, they don’t even exist anymore. I have to be tougher with myself and fight to find some greater perspective, on all those silly little things at least. 

I owe them that much.

I owe the brave lady off the radio that much.

I owe myself.

4 comments:

Julian Self said...

I do this - I obsess over tiny annoyances which can then utterly destroy the pleasure of something for me. When I notice that I'm doing that, I obsess about that for a while and then I start to analyse my obsessive nature, burrowing and nestling over and over again into the same comfortable but bottomless (pointless!) hole in my mind where I become so utterly isolated from reality that I miss the whole point of an occasion.

I'm sorry, what was the question?

Jim Murdoch said...

What good does worry do? I believe the general consensus is: Not much. So why bother with it? Because we can’t help it. I suffer from anxiety a lot. Never used to. I used to get depressed. Now I get in a state over nothing. Just be grateful all you do is worry. I see worry as constructive. It’s a form of problem solving. It’s not the most efficient form of problem solving kicking around but worrying does have a goal: To stop worrying. We talk about a dog worrying away at a bone. Eventually (in theory at least) there will be a time when he worries that bone away to nothing. Never going to happen because worrying is inefficient. Teach a dog to handle a sledgehammer and we’re talking. I get anxious over the stupidest of things. I hate letters dropping through the letterbox. I have no idea what I’m expecting because they’re invariably bills or the TV paper but I would rather people didn’t write to me. Phone calls stress me out. Going out stresses me out. Rationally I know it’s stupid and counterproductive but since when has being rational helped anything? I experienced something not dissimilar when I was depressed, a side of me that stepped outside myself and took notes. It is possible to be irrational and aware that you’re being completely irrational both at the same time. I like order. I like my computer to spring to life when I turn it on. I like my pens to have ink in them. I like my bowels to work when I feel the urge. I don’t expect any of these to malfunction and so I’m not really a worrier; I wait until my order is disturbed before I let it annoy me. And pretty much every day something will happen. Some things are easier to fix than others. I have loads of pens and so it’s not hard to locate a working one but the damage has been done: I’m irked.

I know there are things we worry about that we can’t possibly control. We worry if our kids are late coming home. We worry about the price of petrol. Then there are the things we can affect. We worry how our speech is going to go. A not unreasonable thing to concern ourselves with. People will be looking at us. People will judge us. That’s a valid thing to fret about but only up to a point. As long as we’ve done our research, taken time to write the thing properly and rehearsed it to death then we’ve done everything humanly possible to minimise the possibilities that things will go pear-shaped. But time and unforeseen occurrence befall all men and so, no, there are no guarantees. So we worry. We rehearse all the things that could go wrong too and once we’ve put ourselves through all that misery what could possibly happen that’s worse than we’ve imagined? Oh, there’s always something.

Of course worrying is also evidence that you care. It sharpens you in advance, readies you for danger. That’s one theory. I’m not entirely convinced. I find worry debilitating. It can be distracting. It’s like the brain fog I suffer from. I constantly have to try to clear my thoughts but I can only see a little ahead, a sentence or two. The mind is a mystery. It’s a cliché but that doesn’t make it less true. Theories abound but the bottom line is we really haven’t a clue how we work. We muddle on and I’m muddling off now.

Karen Redman said...

Oh, me too, Ken. It's ghastly. I also have total verbatim recall of conversations which are well past their tell-by date.
I have a friend who used to announce to anyone who met us both that they could stop worrying because I was worrying enough for everyone.
And my reaction to mindfulness, happy little homilies on Facebook or Twitter inter alia make me want to do a Clarkson. And I KNOW it is all so pointless and that nothing I am worrying about will change any outcome or matter much 10 years hence.
But the biggest thing I worry about is how to stop worrying.

Holly Searle said...

Emotive piece Ken. I do this as well all of the time. I think the world consists of two types of people, those who have the capacity to consider all of these tiny, but important details. And those who do not. There have been moments when I have wished I could be one of them, but I quite like caring about it all, it is who I am. My genetic coding was just constructed that way, and I respect it. Carry on sir, it's who you are and the world needs those who care.