Everyone worries, right? I mean, most people do, some more than others. We worry about our relationships, our looks, our future, our jobs, our bank account. We worry if we will make it on time, if our post will get likes, if our car will break down, if our loved ones will die, what others think of us.
Then we become parents, and a whole new level of worry becomes part of our existence. Parents, you know what I’m talking about. It’s like being in a constant state of worry. Am I doing this right? Are they getting enough sleep? Are they developing correctly? Am I feeding them healthy enough? Do they have friends? Will they be successful? Will they struggle? Will they make bad choices? Are they happy?
Growing up, my dad always told me, “Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere.” Since the invention of the internet, I’ve discovered this quote is most often credited to Erma Bombeck, humorist and author. Likely my dad heard it somewhere in his travels, and decided to pass the wisdom along.
Then 12 years ago my father passed away, unexpectedly, two weeks before I was to give birth to my second child. Those were very dark days indeed, and perhaps one day I will share more, but crawling out of that hole required professional help. And it was a long road.
And recently I’ve come to realize I worry all the time. I worry about my kids, money, my cats, my boyfriend and his health and our relationship. I worry if I’m doing enough for my students at school, if I will ever accomplish my dream of being a writer, if I will have everything ready for my son’s graduation, if spring will ever come, if I get enough sleep, if I’ll end up with cancer or Alzheimers.
Perhaps I worry more because I no longer have my father to remind me how it will get me nowhere. Perhaps it’s because I’m older and have more responsibilities, trying to balance work, kids, home, having fun. Perhaps it’s the expectations I have put onto myself, or I feel others have put onto me.
As with most things, there is more than one reason for why it is what it is.
Then a couple weeks ago I read a post by fellow writer Ann Koplow on her blog called the Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally. In it she mentioned the decision her and her husband made to not worry for a year. This hit me right where I needed it. I was amazed, and of course let her know how inspired I felt by her post. I was reminded I have a choice. I can choose to not worry.
Every time I caught myself worrying, most often about little things like being late for work, (which I have never been, so it’s ridiculous), I reminded myself to stop. I thought of Ann and her post, and let it go. And it felt freeing.
This freedom lasted about a week. It took me until a few days ago, but I became aware I had slipped back into worry. I laughed at myself and my last post, which was about worrying for my son. There it was in black and white: proof I was still a worrier.
But I won’t stop trying. Because the words are true. No matter how much we worry about something, it doesn’t do us any good. The outcome is not based on how much we did or did not worry. More worrying won’t make something happen the way we want it to.
Habits are hard to break. And they take time to form.
So I’ll keep listening to my dad’s voice reminding me of the rocking chair—keep having faith everything works out for the best, and trust that something good always comes out of tragedy. I have no reason to believe otherwise. This is what I have witnessed.
What do you worry about? Do you have a good habit you’re trying to form? What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard? Drop a comment below, and if my writing strikes a chord with you, please subscribe!
Also, Ann has a great blog that is a quick read, and always insightful and thoughtful. If you’d like to check it out it’s at https://annkoplow.wordpress.com/about/.