Confessions of a Worry Wart

This Too Shall Pass

I can be a Worry Wart and I know from experience that worry is a learned behavior. If one of your parents was a worrier, chances are you will be too. My father was a worrier and I have fought the worry habit off and on for much of my life. My mother, who was not a worrier, tried to calm my worry brain by singing a song entitled “Worry is but Thinking Double”. I liked the song, agreed with the message and knew it by heart, but I still worried.

Most psychologists today agree that much of the world exists in a state of worry.  The result is an anxiety culture suffering from panic attacks, sleep problems, chronic fatigue, high blood pressure, weakened immune systems, migraine headaches, cardio-vascular problems and much more.

Worry is never useful and totally functions from a place of fear that causes stress and handicaps our effectiveness. If you are a seasoned worrier you understand when I say worry is the fear of what might happen and fear of what won’t happen if you don’t worry. We mistakenly believe worry fulfills a valuable purpose in our life that keeps us accountable, but that is a lie.

What I know for sure:

– You won’t stop worrying if you think it serves you in some way.

-Worry is vague and becomes draped in an unknown fear of ‘something’

-Worry robs you of mental and physical energy.

-Worry is a mental habit that can be broken and you have a choice.

-Worry keeps you stuck in the past or in anxiety about the future preventing you from living in the now.

-Worry is repetitive and nonproductive. (Thinking double as my Mom would say!)

What can you do to counteract the worry habit?

1. Retrain Your Brain: Keep negative, repetitive thoughts out of your mind by replacing them with grateful, productive ones and watch your life turn around! Consistent practice is the key.

2. Tune Out: Contrary to what you hear, the world will not end if you decide to turn off your smart phone, your news feeds, or your television for a few hours. You can’t solve the world’s problems and adding them to your own can be overwhelmingly stressful and, well, worrisome!

3. Make a List: Earlier this year I found myself becoming a multitasking worrier.  My solution was to create a column of ‘Problems/Concerns’ and a corresponding column of ‘What Can I Do About It Now?’ Downloading my worries to a list and using my brain to focus on solutions rather than the helplessness of worrying was powerful and it worked!

4. Move It: How many times do you have to hear this before you take action. Regular physical exercise clears your brain, improves your mood and makes the impossible seem doable. Choose something you like to do and get out there. Read more on how this worked for me.

5. Meditate: Get comfortable, get quiet and clear your mind of clutter. This works immediately and practiced over time can result in better focus, a calm sense of clarity and no worries. You don’t have to chant or wear special clothes to meditate so what are you waiting for?

“I am an old man and I have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened”                   -Mark Twain

“This too shall pass.” -Dorothy Arni (My mother, who passed away in May 2013)

Original artwork by Darla Arni,


A day like today

MalNino / Foter

I know 9/11 was yesterday.

I know the ceremonies are over.

But for me, 9/11 was a day like today. I had taken my happy first grader to school on a perfect, sunny almost fall mid-west day when the temperature is warm and trees make a soft rustling sound in the breeze. I stood in my kitchen looking out at crazy squirrels terrorizing my yard as I drank my last cup of coffee and listened to the Today Show.

A breaking news bulletin flashed on TV a little before 8 a.m. our time and everything changed. The world seemed to stop and I didn’t care anymore about the crazy squirrels. As a six-year-old at the time, my daughter remembers very little; her most vivid memories are people around her being upset and a video about planes being played over and over on TV.

What do I remember?

I remember praying and crying for those lost and hurt by the actions of a few and thinking, “My child will never know a world without the fear of terrorism.”  She only knows about long security lines in airports, baggage searches, screening machines and preparedness drills.

Yet life continues, years pass, children grow, and we have much to be thankful for. Wouldn’t it be great for us to remember that every single day? We cannot let fear define us nor deter us.