Worry: Casting a Big Shadow

“Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow.” Swedish proverb

Meditations in Motion

I am an inveterate worrier. When my husband and grandson were building magnet block creations recently, I was the person who was concerned that the boy would fall off a kitchen chair, hovering close by in case I needed to catch him; my husband was the one who built a rocket. Guess who had more fun.

When we were looking to book a house in Phoenix, Arizona for an upcoming family trip, I was the one who agonized over the choice, changing my mind a zillion times before finally settling on the “perfect” house. I was worried I would make a bad choice for my family.

My perfect choice was scuttled, however, when the owner of the house offered to book the house to me privately, making an end-run around the vacation rental site and saving me money, but immediately causing me to mistrust him. This caused my worry-meter to register off-the-chart readings.

I worry whether the new recipe I am trying for dinner tonight will be tasty, I fret that the niggling ache in my knee is an incipient running injury, and I agonize over the strange new growth on my thigh, with the term “basal cell carcinoma” flashing in my brain.

Oh, I know most worry is unproductive. It causes lost sleep, tension, and general unhappiness. We worry because we project unpleasant outcomes for situations.

Meditations in Motion

The ability to anticipate potential problems is probably the reason your ancestors remained alive long enough to procreate, but when that ability goes into overdrive, it creates more problems than it solves.

One issue with worry is that it seemingly works. Each time we worry about a problem and nothing bad happens, our brains equate worry with a positive outcome. We unconsciously believe by worrying, we prevented something unpleasant from occurring.

Seemingly” is the operative word, however. There is a big difference between problem-solving, which is productive, and worrying, which is not.

In order to overcome worry, we must be able to accept uncertainty. This requires self-confidence. We must believe in our ability to handle the various outcomes possible in a given situation.

Meditations in MotionA realistic way to do this is to break our worries into manageable chunks. Rather than worrying about losing five pounds, I can cook a healthy dinner tonight. Instead of worrying about muscle tone fading as I get older, I can go to Body Pump class today. In place of worrying whether my relationships with family who live far away are diminishing, I can send a text or make a phone call. As an alternative to worrying about whether I have the stamina to run a marathon, I can add an extra half mile to my long run this week.

Breaking our worries into actionable portions gives us a feeling of control.

Of course, we cannot control every facet of all situations. Sometimes we just need to release worries as unproductive and futile. In that case, I recommend following this wise advice, which works for even the most hard-core worrier (me):

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27 

Meditations in Motion

*It is my plan to document the arrival of spring here in this corner of Southeastern Pennsylvania through the progression of blooming flowers. This is the tenth and final picture in the series. The flowers pictured above are rhododendron. I took this picture one rainy Sunday morning in my yard.

I am linking with Cee’s FOTD Challenge, Welcome Heart for Let’s Have Coffee, Soaring with Him for Recharge Wednesday, Debbie at Dare 2 Hear, Crystal Storms for Heart Encouragement, Rachel Marie Lee, Jessica and Amy at Live Life Well, Raisie Bay for Word of the Week, Susan B Mead for Dancing With Jesus, Embracing the Unexpected for Grace and Truth, Lyli Dunbar for Faith on Fire, and Worth Beyond Rubies.

Please click on the following link to read more funny or inspirational one-liners. One-Liner Wednesday.

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65 comments

  1. I am a master worrier. I like your idea of breaking the worry into sections. I must try that. Of course, the best thing for me to do is pray. Prayer has gotten me through some sticky situations. I wish it were ALWAYS my first response.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ha! I think any sense of control is definitely imaginary. 🙂 The best way to deal with worries is to develop a flexible, tolerant, amused attitude. Unfortunately, that attitude often escapes me!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I worry about everything too Laurie. I worry most about the weather because it is so erratic. I worry most about tornadoes or trees falling on the house and where I will go. I have no relatives and don’t feel like starting over. People say to me “well, that is what you have insurance for” but I don’t look at it like that. I have blinders on and only see a total catastrophic event. I never used to worry so much when I was younger … I hate blaming it on getting older. The raindrops on the rhododendron are just gorgeous and I’m sorry to see this last picture in your series.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have found that I worry more now that I am older too, Linda, and I don’t like it one bit. I am trying to get a handle on my worrying. Although when my kids were living under my roof, I worried about them if they were even 1 minute late coming home.

      I will still probably post flower photos sometimes. I just don’t want to be tied into it each week. Flowers are one of my favorite subjects. Unlike your squirrels and waterfowl, they are pretty stationary and therefore easy to photograph!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have become an excessive weather worrier since the weather has become so erratic.

        But it is little things too – and the frustrations of little things. I heard a psychologist talking about anger management yesterday and he said most things that frustrate or anger people, just 24 hours later are completely a non-issue and people have forgotten about them.

        I went to CVS and said to the pharmacist “I had the measles as a child but I would like to get the booster shot and be proactive against any new strains and ensure I am protected” … he looked at me like I was the man in the moon and said “but if you had them already ma’am?” I said I had heard or read several items that suggested everyone should be vaccinated and those that are a certain age should get a booster. He says “you don’t need it ma’am.” OK, he was being honest at least and losing $ for his employer. I said “I appreciate your honesty.” But then wondered if he should have taken me more seriously. 🙂 Then, over the past weekend, a child was on a plane coming in from Las Vegas to Detroit Metro. The child experienced “measles-like symptoms” (why the story wasn’t hushed until it was confirmed I don’t know) but the media was all over it. A CDC rep was stationed at the hospital, ready to declare an emergency for passengers on the plane and anywhere else where the child had been. We have already had 44 people with measles. So I fretted thinking “I should have gotten the booster shot anyway.” Turned out the kid was just sick – no measles. Wasted worry on my part and the jury is still out on getting the booster or not.

        You made it a goal to take more photos, so you’ll get some more shared once the majority of them are in bloom.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I read about the “measles” on the plane too. My mom had measles several times, but I think it was actually rubella. She called them the German measles. I am pretty sure I had them as a child too.

        I do the same thing you described – worry myself silly about some trivial thing, then 24 hours later forget all about it. It’s a non-issue. Why do I do this to myself?

        Liked by 1 person

      • I just had the regular measles. I ask myself why I am such a “worrywart” now and I was never like that before. Even exam time in school – I have to say that I never lost sleep nor my appetite during finals and I had classmates that were a real mess. I was not a straight-A student, but still I have more angst now about so many things, but not back then. I think it is the state of the world too.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I like your approach to avoiding/reducing worry. It’s a very good goal. I don’t worry much about anything. Sometimes, that has caused problems for me, but, overall, I think I’ve managed pretty well.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. You should check out the course I’m reviewing in my host post this week, its just these sort of every day worries that it aims to help you tackle.

    #abitofeverything

    Liked by 1 person

  5. a therapist once suggested I think about anxiety (worry) in terms of a bell curve. Zero anxiety creates a laissez faire approach that for me isn’t motivating enough for me to take any positive action in my life (bottom of the bell). Super high anxiety paralyzes me into inaction (also bottom of the bell). The right amount of low-level anxiety makes me interested in being productive, doing a good job, etc, creating a higher quality of life.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh I’m an excessive worrier! It’s gotten worse since we bought our house! But God is definitely doing a work in me. I saw something recently that said ‘Stop trying to prevent what can’t be prevented’ and God brings that back to my mind when I worry. I can’t do anything to prevent certain things so why worry about it!
    Thank you for linking up @worthbeyondrubies

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Worry is a tricky one that I wrestle with more than I care to admit! Choosing God’s peace over worry sounds really, really good!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Do you think all the moments when we encouraged our little ones ‘not to worry – it’ll be okay’, we were just bottling up their worries and holding on to them until we got older so we could finally let them go free!? I hope not! I have enough of my own. I worry too, and I like your advice on how to break the worries down. Thanks for sharing! Hope you enjoy the family trip, sounds like you’ve planned it well!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Yes, “do the next thing” is the right response to worry.
    And I have to ask myself every time: Suppose what you’re worrying about is true? What can you do about it right now?
    So, I fold laundry . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Over the years I think I’ve gotten better at not worrying as much or at least letting go of things that I know are out of my control. I think there’s a difference in being prepared (i.e. having a plan if a hurricane strikes where you live) vs. just worrying constantly, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. “Each time we worry about a problem and nothing bad happens, our brains equate worry with a positive outcome. ” I’ve never thought of it like that before, I’ll definitely keep it mind in the future. Yes, I’m a worrier too, it drives my husband crazy that I worry so much about everything. I definitely need to work on it. Really interesting post as usual Laurie x

    Liked by 1 person

  12. While I am certainly not immune to worry, mostly that job falls to my husband, who is very good at it. Talk about your analysis paralysis! In some ways I tend to be more a go with a flow sort of person.

    It’s interesting that your plan to reduce worry sounds a lot like training a dog! Always chop things into little steps, and if it’s not working, you need to go even smaller. It’s an interesting approach.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. So very true about dealing with worry! I scuttle the worries by making plans. I try to think of the worst case scenario that could happen if whatever I’m worrying about happens and how I would deal with it. Then I can relax. A little.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I’ve gotten better about the worrying, though I find it fluctuates depending on what my teens are getting into. 🙄 I try to remember that worry will not change a single thing that’s going to happen, it will only make me more miserable while I watch things play out. I like your long shadow quote, too!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, when my kids were teens, I worried about them. A lot. I think I drove my hubby crazy! Remembering that worry will not help the situation is the first step for me to get out of the woods too.

      Like

  15. I worry too much too. One of my favorite sayings is we create our own hell by choices in life. I’ve worried myself sick over a upcoming event and when it was over, it was really nothing. But I just had to create hell on earth for myself first. Quite stupid actually.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. So I live in a constant state of worry or envisioning what COULD go wrong in EVERY situation… I need to read this & re-read it over & over again. Thanks for that!!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Awww, Laurie, how this post resonated with me. Yes, although I try not to worry, I catch myself analyzing every possible option and outcome when an out-of-control situation forces its way into my life. I’m working to turn things over to God. more quickly, but I have yet to make that my go-to response.

    I loved your examples of worry and your thoughts for breaking worries down and dealing with the things you can. Trusting God with all of them is the best thing we can do, isn’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I am a worrier. A life long one, at that. As a child I didn’t know how to cope, but I continue to work on myself, as I grow older. Thank you for this post. I think it resonates with most of us.

    Liked by 1 person

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