On Reflection

Worrying me today: how to cope with worrying

Worrying scary hand puppet

Did you know that worrying is our way of fooling ourselves into thinking we are doing something about a problem?

Since that knowledge, I ceased being a worrier and became a do-er. However, when the doing to solve a problem is not possible right away, I adopt the ‘Stop, Look, Listen’ method of calming myself down.

Stop – name and accept that I am feeling anxious about something and mentally visualise the word ‘STOP’ in my mind while slow breathing. Deep breathing or becoming aware of our breathing slows down nervous emotion, emotion which will naturally die down after about a minute and a half anyway. I give myself that time to recover…or puke.

Look – for a minute or so I focus on the external world, naming things I see, rather than my internal feelings of chaos. Although what that man has just done with a runny nose, a coat sleeve and a Tesco Finest mango is causing me a little anxiety in my external world at the moment. Let me look away to something else.

Listen – Reassure myself the way I would reassure an anxious friend or relative. Some people also use an affirmative phrase here – ‘All is well’ or ‘You are in no danger’ or ’10 Things I Would Do To Denzel Washington Right Now Are…” Whatever works for you.

I am pondering this today because I am still mentally re-living my near death experience of last week, and which my youngest son witnessed. We’re fine, except I keep getting the ‘What if…’ banner flashing across my brain when I least expect it, and that banner debilitates me in the moment. Hence why I am resorting to tried and trusted techniques to stop worrying about an uncertain future.

And so to naming my feelings and worry.

I am feeling really really angry at those two irresponsible renegade drivers for nearly killing me last week and rendering my children orphans. I am angry that my son witnessed the incident and that he realised, along with me, that my taking a step back or forwards would do nothing to save me. I am angry that scene keeps replaying itself in both our minds. I am angry that I had to scream in order for those two chatting drivers to become aware of my presence. I am angry my son saw me out of resources, with screaming the only one left in his mother’s arsenal. I am worried that if I don’t write this down and name it I will become an angry person, and I don’t want to return to being an angry person.

I am worried about my plan to live forever.

Okay, I feel better now.