Worry is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere”
– Erma Bombeck
I am onto blog post #2. Thank you to those that read the first post “I look in the mirror and I see doubt”. I am so thankful for the great words of encouragement, as well as, that it resonated.
If this is the first time to Loudly Imperfect, welcome. You can learn more about my WHY, on the ABOUT page. You can also follow my Facebook page Loudly Imperfect which has daily posts of inspiration and positivity. Ok, enough of that and on to the post … away we go!
Dear Worry, It’s me, not you… I have to let you go so I can SOAR to new places. You see I am very tired of you taking advantage of me. Like a thief, you have stolen my joy. But I did let you, so that is why it is me, and not you. I am letting you go, and as a result I am truly free….
As a young girl, I was around a lot of women who worried. They worried about everything… if GOD will bless the family, if the weather was going to hold out, if their kids would be ok, if the economy would be good, would they be able to make ends meet, if the birthday present would be right…. You get the point. They were selfless in their worry, because it was aimed at worrying for everyone but themselves. It was the female worry vibe. They had this quintessential “put me last” mindset, with a nice undertone of guilt. This was what a girl aspired to be, selfless above all else, worried for all.
As I stepped into early adult hood, I don’t remember being worried so much. Sure, I did worry from time to time, but it wasn’t a lot. I was at that wonderful age of being young and fearless. However, as growing responsibility crept in, as well as, my career starting to take off, I began to worry more and more. You see, worrying was so ingrained in me, that I didn’t even realize that I had formed the same habits as my Mum and all my friends moms. It was just so normal.
It was slow, barely noticeable at all. I didn’t realize I was falling into a natural pattern that felt oh so comfortable, as it had been programmed into me so very long ago. The older I got, the more I seemed to worry. I worried about everything and that led to second guessing myself. I began noticing my self talk putting limits on me, as I would be worrying about the outcome before I even got started. I spent so much energy on worrying, that I was worried that I was worrying 🤦♀️.
It went something like this:
- I would worry about my husband, family, friends, my cats, other peoples cats, dogs, horses, chickens etc…
- I would worry about the weather, the news, what was happening in the world
- I would worry about how I was going to achieve the goals, I willingly set for myself
- I would worry about the dinner party I was putting on, even though I had made the items before with positive feedback (my internal voice said, they are just being polite 😳)
- I would worry about the eMail I sent, how was it going to be received? I would take hours crafting it
- I would worry about how I showed up in a meeting?
- I worried a lot about failing or letting my mentors or family down
- I worried if people would like me or see me as credible and competent
You get the picture…
None of this was outwardly visible. I would get comments like, “you’re so confident”, “you did a great job in that presentation” or any number of things that should have bolstered me and abated that worrying nag of a voice in my head. By all accounts, I was successful. My career was trending in the right direction. I was breaking new ground. I was taking risks. But instead, I would just worry about the next thing coming up. Inside, I was falling deeper and deeper into a pattern that wasn’t what I wanted, and I wasn’t sure how to stop it.
The truth is, I spent way too much time worrying about stuff that wasn’t really important. I spent hours, days, weeks, digesting feedback where I had done something not quite right and needed to improve. I would view the scene over and over looking for how I could get better. For me, it was like bees to honey. I would cycle it over and over in my mind, worrying about the different ways I should adjust, instead of asking for feedback on what I did well, so I could discover my strengths. I never even thought about asking that, I mean if my boss thought I did well, wouldn’t they lead with that? I learned the hard way, NO they will not!! Human nature is heavily weighted to start with the negative! Just ask a group of people after something successful happens. You ask “what went well?” and after two items on the positive, they will fill up several pages with what didn’t go well, usually before you even ask the “what could we do better”.
I was just so consumed with worry and didn’t realize how much of my mental energy was being placed on that. It stole my ability to look forward, to believe in my strengths and talents. It held me back in so many ways.
It wasn’t until I crossed into a more “experienced and enlightened” age, that I was able to see how debilitating worry can be, especially for women.
Once I became aware of it, I started to pay more attention to how I, as well as other women, were showing up. I saw women, just like me, who were worrying about stuff they could not control and wasn’t really important.
I then observed really successful women, that didn’t seem to worry at all. In fact, they made a point of not worrying. At first, I thought it was so uncaring of them, I mean really, how can you be a successful woman without worrying your butt off?
I finally realized they had found real freedom. While I was busy worrying, they were using their energy to find a lot more capacity to build their careers. They were facing forward, not looking down at their shoes, or behind them at the shadows they were sure would consume them.
If you find yourself with an overabundance of worry, the following are some thoughts on how you can “Break up with Worry”:
- It’s more common than just you: For many women it is very normal. Start by finding someone to talk to and share openly about what is driving you to worry. If we shared more openly, I believe we would grow through things much faster. You are not alone, I haven’t done the research, but I would posit that in a group of 5 women, 3 are worrying about a lot of things they can’t do anything about and it really doesn’t matter.
- Awareness to it: How much of your time, energy and talent is going into being worried about things that really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things? Discerning is important, should you be concerned about something that has a high probability of happening? (YES) Or worried about something that probably will not happen? (NO). It can get blurry, concern vs. worry. I am not saying don’t be concerned.
- Surrounding yourself with positive people: Find a tribe that helps you unlock your gifts and is a positive support for you. If they jump into the muck of negativity and wallow in worry with you, then it isn’t the right tribe. You want a tribe that helps you grow through, not cycle around and around. I heard someone say once, your the average of the five (5) people your around the most. (Wait what?) That got my attention fast!!!
- Find your opposite: look for someone who doesn’t seem to worry at all and learn some of their tips and tricks. For me, this is my husband. It used to aggravate me so much. I would say to him “If you don’t worry how can you prepare for something happening?” He would say “if I spend all my time worrying, I won’t have time to learn what I need, to be prepared” – point taken dear!
Breaking free of a subconscious habit is not easy. It is like breathing, you don’t think about it. If your a professional worrier, the grip is strong. As women, we are prone to caring for others, which is one of our superpowers. However, incessant worrying can be our kryptonite, sapping our energy and our potential.
Most importantly, start with being kind to yourself. Look in the mirror daily and say to yourself “I am amazing and I know things will work out, I am strong, resilient, determined, smart and capable”. Look at your daughters and tell them every day, “they are amazing, things will work out, and that they are strong, resilient, determined, and capable”. Look at your tribe of other women and tell them “they are amazing, and things will work out and that they are strong, resilient, determined, smart and capable”. Help them break free of worry and doubts. Help them find their voice, their power, their passion and their dreams.
It isn’t selfish to abandon worry and actually take care of yourself. How can you take care of others if you’re not mentally and physically fit?
For all the time I spent worrying, it didn’t help me succeed more! It didn’t make me more joyful or grateful. I may have taken some great steps forward, but I could have leaped forward, if I didn’t have a 100 lb rucksack of worry on my back.
Go boldly into the world and shine brightly.