Do you have a tendency to "bleed before you're cut"?
I mean …
- Do you worry about everything?
- Do you catastrophize?
- Does your worry-er seem to be in charge most of the time?
- With simple problems, do you tend to immediately jump out of the realm of reality and into a world of concern?
If you fear that you might lose your hand after a simple paper-cut, that tendency – which one of my favorite psychologists, Dr. Kathy Platzman, refers to as "Awfulizing" – isn't very constructive. Not only does it create a sense of alarm and emergency that can trigger a stress-cycle, but it teaches your kids that every campfire should be treated as a five-alarm fire.
In today’s world of uncertainty, there’s certainly a lot to worry about. But funny enough, some of us are learning to let go and find peace, even though we don’t know what’s going to happen. Will our kids be homeschooled again, or go to school in person? Who knows, honestly. Things are changing day to day.
I have always told my kids that you can only make a decision when you have the information you need to make that decision. I’ve guided them to wait and consider all their options. But these days, we may not get the information we need for quite some time. We can’t even trust our gut. Instead, we have to make our best guesses. And worrying isn’t going to change that.
So if the tendency to worry about how bad things MIGHT get sounds familiar to you, here's a two part tip that can help.
Step 1: Check In.
When you notice you're "concerned," "anxious," or "worried" – or when you hear yourself using those words out loud (or some variation on them) – pause and check-in with yourself. Are you genuinely worried? Is there good reason? Or are you getting yourself worked up without any evidence?
Step 2: Re-Direct.
When you notice that you're worrying about what "might" happen, ask yourself, "what is most likely to happen?" Rather than planning for the worst possible scenario, try to change your focus to what is actually happening in the moment. Ask yourself, what is actually in your control? What further information do you need before you jump to conclusions?
There’s no question, these are challenging times for all of us to navigate. The last thing we need is to worry about everything. Be selective – worry about those things that deserve your concern, and practice – and it takes practice! – letting go of those things that you can’t control, anyway.