19 years, 1 month, and 8 days ago I gave birth to my first child. After the initial tears of joy, the requisite finger and toe counting, family calls, and tears of joy, I was left alone for the first time with my newborn son. An overwhelming feeling of pure dread came over me. Before you judge me as a terrible mother (I’ve done way worse than this), let me define that dreadful emotion. It was worry. I realized that for the rest of my life, I was 30 at the time and I plan to live to be at least 100, I was going to worry about this little human being. 70 years of agonizing worry ahead of me. I didn’t even realize at the time that I would have two more children to exponentially multiply the intensity of the worry that I was subject to face.
Over these 19 years I’ve worried about the following; what if he doesn’t sleep, what if he does and there’s something wrong with him, what if he gets sick, hurt, ignored, teased, has no friends, has bad friends, gets bad grades, gets good grades by cheating, doesn’t get into college, gets into college but flunks out, gets stuck on the side of the road and doesn’t know how to change a tire, gets a psychotic roommate at college, doesn’t eat right, eats too much, does drugs, drinks too much, can’t find the deodorant I packed for his dorm room, can’t find the cafeteria at college and walks around for days scrounging in garbage cans like a homeless man, never leaves his dorm room except to use the bathroom, and doesn’t grow to be well over 6 feet. That last one being particularly ludicrous because I wanted him to be that tall so that he could be a basketball player because, you know, there’s just a ton of well over 6 foot Jewish guys playing hoops in the NBA.
Recently, I was booking a plane reservation for him and was only able to find flights that required plane changes and very short layover times. I know this might shock you but I became excessively worried about this concept. Why? Well you know it’s very common for 5’11” college freshmen male to be lost for eternity inside well populated airports with thousands of people milling around. You haven’t heard of this? Google it, I’m sure it’s epidemic at this point. Anyway, said child caught wind of my excessive worry and said something exceptionally deep and well thought out like, “Mom, quit worrying about it.” And just like that, I decided to stop worrying about it. I also decided to stop worrying about everything else as well. I was just sick of it. Worrying sucks.
Here’s the crazy thing, since I stopped worrying, the world hasn’t changed at all and I’ve begun to realize that (hold on for this one) I never really had control over any of those things I was worrying about. It always seemed necessary for me to worry because somehow that worry was going to keep bad things from ever happening. Bad things happen all the time and it appears that they happen whether we worry or not. Which brings me back to my war on worry, why do it? Once I stopped worrying, I suddenly had tons of time on my hands. Worry was so exhausting and so energy draining. I feel younger, lighter, and happier without all that worry. Not to mention the heavy creases between my forehead seem to be lightening up a tad and that is without one drop of Botox.
So let me ask you this, can you give up worry? If you are Catholic, I say give it up right now for Lent. I mean why give up candy, junk food, wine, etc. when you can give up something really distasteful and bad for you like worry. I hear you saying, “Well what if I stop worrying and something bad happens?” and I say to you, “What if?” If something bad happens we are going to be sad whether we worried beforehand or not so why not have a great time until, or if, something bad happens and then handle it when it happens.
Does worrying about money bring you more money? No, working more and spending less does. Does worrying about your weight make you thinner? I wish and no, eating less and exercising more makes you thinner (well that is if you are male and under 50 otherwise apparently nothing makes you thinner). Does worrying about your kids make them smarter, cuter, popular, less annoying and future NBA players? No, some of those things may happen and some of them may not so why worry about them? Go through your checklist of worries and see if you actually have control over any of the things you are worried about. If you can control something, do so and if not, LET IT GO and go enjoy your life.
Lisa Kaplin is a certified life coach at www.smartwomeninspiredlives.com
She can be contacted at email@example.com