Worry is one of those things that seems to be hardwired into some people – either you’re a worrier, or you’re not. I know people who worry when they realise that they’ve not been worried in a while.
I’m not hardwired to worry. For the most part, worry usually passes over me but doesn’t stick. Like drops of water on a Teflon pan, it clings a while and then falls away. But it takes a lot of work and effort to keep that non-stick seal in good operating order.
I read this somewhere recently (and copied it because I wanted to use it but I can’t remember where I found it…):
The story’s told of a clock that spent a great deal of time worrying about its future, reasoning that it had to tick twice each second. ‘How much ticking might that be?’ the clock thought. So it began to calculate that it would tick 120 times each minute, which is 7,200 times each hour. That meant in a twenty-four-hour day it would have to tick 172,800 times, and 63,072,000 times every year. By this time the clock began to get overwhelmed and sweat profusely. Finally, it calculated that in a ten-year period it would have to tick 630,720,000 times – and at that point the clock collapsed with a nervous breakdown.
The moral of this little story is clear – one step at a time. But that’s easier said than done. It’s hard to focus on the little stuff when the big picture is so overwhelming.
A workshop participant told me once that I should take a deep breath and then let it out in 10 short breathe-outs. That works to release the tension in my muscles that comes with worry.
When my worry gear kicks in, I find myself repeating two things:
- No point in worrying twice – wait until it actually happens.
- Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in thee.
The first is backed up by science:
Psychologists reckon that about 95 per cent of all we worry about never happens. What about the other 5 per cent? Four out of five times things turn out better than we anticipated, including a lot of outright blessings! In the end, only 1 per cent of all the bad we think might happen actually does, and of this it’s rarely as bad as we feared.
The second is backed up by faith.
Faith, a word derived from Latin fides and the Old French feid, describes having complete trust or confidence in someone or something. It’s a hard one to explain.
I’ve had a few hairy days recently [all good now] and doubt I’d have kept hold of my sanity had I not had faith to rely on. That’s not to say that that sense of balance Peck talks about comes easy or that the perspective hasn’t to be worked at. But it certainly helps. And for that I’m grateful.