Worry WARTS

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“My life has been filled with terrible misfortune; most of which never happened.”
~Michel de Montaigne

Did you know the term “Worry WARTS” is a pneumonic in psychiatry that stands for…

  • Worn-out
  • Absentminded
  • Restless
  • Tense
  • and Sleep disturbed

In psychiatry, the whole thing adds up to Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Ironically, it also closely mirrors the things alcoholics experience! We get worn out, we forget things, we’re restless and tense and we can’t sleep without the aid of alcohol or sleeping pills. If we’re lucky these WARTS will eventually trigger us to find help and stop!!

I have always been a worry wart. It is in my genes – my mother is one, my grandmother was one, my great-grandmother and I’m gonna guess the females in my family have been worry warts all the way back to our cave-women origins! For me, most worry centers around – am I enough, have I done enough, could I do more. It’s about perfection, putting the needs of others before my own, being nice and making everything nice all around me, so that people will like me. Up until 19 days ago, it always resulted in a feeling of overwhelm that ended with a bottle (or two) of wine.

I’ve thought a lot about worry over the years – not only investing a heck of a lot of time doing it, but also wondering why I do it and if/how I can stop! I don’t have all the answers, but here are some of my thoughts:

  1. Worry never makes a difference in the outcome of anything. It only makes me sick and tired; and sometimes, if I pester the worry-recipient with my worries, it makes them sick and tired too!
  2. While I want to think worrying comes from a place of love, the reality is it comes from a place of control. It’s the devil on my shoulder telling me all the horrible things that could happen and advising me of various and sundry ways I can (and MUST) solve the world’s problems.
  3. If you believe in energy attraction, as I do, it also tends to attract negative energy (lost keys, annoying drivers, missed appointments). Worry is never a positive energy and studies suggest at least 85% of the things we worry about never happen!
  4. In my experience, bad things happen without any help from worry warts like me. One clear example: in 1995, when the Alfred P. Murray building exploded a block down the street from me, it was a thing neither I nor anyone else had ever dreamed might happen (though I’ll admit to plenty of worry afterwards)!
  5. Worry is a habit and I know now, more than ever, that habits can be broken! The key is to expect/trust that everything will work out as it should and let the worry go.

HOW to let it go is, I believe, a matter of mind – living in the present moment, being mindful of the world around me and finding ways to reframe or sidestep my worries is a good start. Some of the ways we can side-step our worries is to notice the worry and put it on pause – take three deep breaths, meditate on a positive outcome, avoid news and media that I know will make me worry and/or offer up a meta prayer like the one below…

May they be blessed,
May they be happy,
May they be loved,
May they have peace.

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