Posted by: Admin | May 9, 2011

Like a dog with a bone…

…I used to worry away at issues large and small. I am one of life’s worriers and if I don’t keep a grip on the tendency I can drive myself (and those I worry about) insane. Will the weather be fine for the picnic? Will the children get heatstroke? Is the sun block strong enough? It is what it is, I chant silently, like a mantra. But what if it isn’t?

Funnily enough, it’s mainly small, insignificant things that get me these days. The big stuff is easier to rationalise. It used to be that I’d worry about EVERYTHING, from starving children in far flung continents to the man I chatted to at the bus stop who was lonely. And if I wasn’t worried, I’d worry that there was something to worry about that I’d missed. It was exhausting.

I know I’m not alone. Low level anxiety is a default setting for many. Experiencing anxiety is a normal reaction to stressful situations such as a job interview or being late for a plane. But what if that general feeling of unease, worry and dread persists day in, day out? According to the NHS, 1 in 20 adults suffer from GAD – General Anxiety Disorder – with it being most prevalent in those in their twenties. That last fact surprises me insofar as it is commonly assumed that it is the middle-aged, particularly women, are most prone to worrying. Perhaps it’s just that once we get older we are more likely to be diagnosed with depression or the side effects of hormonal upheavals rather than  being saddled with the “GAD” label.

A great deal of worry comes from the need to be in control, and I gave up on that idea years ago. The tighter you grip the reins of life, the quicker they slip through your fingers.

As for people – trying to control them is a sure fire way to make them run. Unless you break them entirely of course, which is a wholly different kind of tragedy. DH Lawrence documented the ultimate in controlling, passive-aggressive women in his novel, Sons & Lovers. I well remember my gentle-hearted mother-in-law telling me she would never seek to interfere in her child’s relationship as she had a fear of “being a Mrs Morel”. And she never did.

As for my tendency to worry, I’m a work in progress. It’s such a waste of time and energy. Here’s “The Nun’s Prayer” (author unknown). This is the first thing I see when I open my eyes in the morning and the last thing I see when I close them at night.

God, grant me the Serenity to accept those things I cannot change,

the Courage to change the things I can,

and the Wisdom to know the difference

Amen to that.

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Responses

  1. My mum worries about everything. She accompanies her dog into the garden in case it’s snatched by a seagull, she taped up her fireplace to prevent intrusion by African bees, and she has an impressive stockpile of both water and gas bottles in the event of an emergency. When questioned about the root of her actions she invariably answers “I read about it in the Daily Mail.”

    Hopefully, you’re not reading it too!

    • Certainly not, Stuart! ;-0

      I’d love to meet your mum!

  2. I, too, used to be a worrier…but then we had tragedy strike…from a direction I had never worried about. Some women I know in similar situations are now debilitated with a new, higher level of worry. For me, it helped me largely let go of worry since all the worrying I had done in the past did not protect my son…

    So true that worry is often based in our need to be in control…

    • Jill, you make a very salient point. That’s what frustrates me about worrying – it makes not the slightest difference except to make one feel bad. It’s as if we think can take pain or peril away from others by absorbing it ourselves. x


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