OOPS — WRONG LINK to the 7/24 Newsletter — Here’s the correct one!
Sorry about that!
I grew up in the days of Alfred E. Newman’s freckled face peering out at me from the cover of Mad magazine.
I thought Alfred E. was on to something when he asked “What, me worry?” because I was a kid with not too much to worry about.
When I got a little older I got the first inkling that maybe Alfred E. was…oh, I don’t know…a smirking smart-aleck.
There were plenty of things to worry about! Grade point averages and algebra tests. What to wear to an upcoming school dance. Spring play tryouts.
Worry and I became well acquainted.
As I got older, I knew Alfred E. Newman was truly full of it because there were more things to worry about than ever.
Scholarships, relationships, getting into graduate school. These were things that NEEDED a good worrying.
I comforted myself with the idea there’d be a time “someday” when all worries would be behind me, and I’d make my way into some sort of magical worry-free future.
But that never happened.
Getting a job, making ends meet, scary neighbors in the apartment next door, buying a car, and, and, and….
As soon as one worry dropped off the bottom of the list, three new ones took a prominent spot at the top. There was always something.
Then…a bit of light at the end of the tunnel.
One night I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t go back to sleep. I stewed and fretted. Worried and filled myself to the brim with anxiety.
Later that day, in the warm afternoon sun, I couldn’t for the life of me remember what I’d been concerned about the night before.
Seriously!? I’d lost a night’s sleep and couldn’t even remember why!
What’s that about?!?
The next time I took a walk down Worry Lane, I took a turn down Memory Lane instead,
I asked myself: “What exactly were you worried about last week at this time? Last month? Last year?” (And no guessing “money” or “health” or something generic.)
Again, I couldn’t really remember anything specific.
Now when the worrying descends, I play a rousing game of “So What Were You Worried About Last Week/Month/Year at This Time?”
This exercise pushes my brain out of an endless loop of stewing into a more objective and rational mode of thinking:
- What day of the week is today?
- What’s the date?
- What happened on the 17th day or the third Tuesday of June?
- What was I doing last year at this time?
- What could I have possibly been worried about?
Sometime I even look back at the calendar or a journal to see what I was doing then, and each time I can’t remember, it reminds me that George Washington was right: “Worry is the interest paid by those who borrow trouble.”
Did you catch that phrase — “interest paid”?
Taken in the most obvious sense, there’s a clear monetary context, but taken another way, “interest paid” also refers to the attention paid.
Worry pays attention to things that may, and will in all likelihood, never happen.
And if I can remember what I was worried about?
Well, then — CLUE TIME!! — chances are it’s not an abstract “worry” but a real dilemma to solve…but more about that next week!