I am a worrier.
I worried as a kid. I worried as a teen. I worry as an adult.
Anxiety has always been the little sidecar to my adhd.
I’ve had panic attacks since the age of about 8. I didn’t know it at the time, my family called it “my reaction”, but my heart would race, my palms would sweat, I’d feel light headed and like I was gonna throw up.
This feeling would come on swiftly, without warning, and I would often leave school because of it.
I felt like something was wrong with me, like it made me weird and nerdy.
It felt like I was broken and not normal.
As I became an adult, I decided to stop letting worry make decisions for me. It would still show up, but I wouldn’t allow it to keep me from doing things that I wanted to do.
For 6 years I had a job where I was traveling twice a month, often flying coast to coast. While I loved seeing new places and meeting new people, the flights themselves terrified me. Each take off and landing I’d have my own little panic attack. I decided right then and there I could do hard things. This felt hard to me, but I wanted to show up. I wanted to do the job.
I allowed the feelings of discomfort knowing that eventually they would pass and I would get to the other side of the feelings. I noticed my palms sweating and my stomach flipping and said to myself “I choose this. Other people do this, so can I.”
More recently I have noticed that I had a belief that once I got my kids to the age of 18, my worries for and about them would magically stop. I would have done my “job” of raising them and I would no longer feel the responsibility that I felt when they were younger to keep them safe.
Ha! Yeah, just magically stop. That’s truly what I thought. Boy was I ever wrong about that!
What I’ve discovered is that once 18 came, it got worse. I still had the same concern for their safety, yet now they were doing much bigger things and I had absolutely zero control over it!
Take for example the two weeks that my daughter spent in Thailand last year. Ubering to hostels at midnight, having her phone pic pocketed on day two. I couldn’t control any of it. I spent those two weeks with an app notifying me every time she landed in a new Country. Alarms going off each time she should’ve checked into a new hostel. It was awful! (For me, she on the other hand had a fabulous time!)
Or take my son who is a rapper. Often out late nights at the recording studio. As a mom, when I haven’t heard from him for awhile, or I’m unable to reach him, I imagine the worse. Of course something horrible has happened and his car is in a ditch somewhere.
More often then not his cell phone battery has died and he makes it home just fine. Except that one time…
I will save THAT story for another post.
While I was at The Life Coach School’s coach training a few weeks ago, I was coached by some amazing fellow students. I decided to come up with a worry protocol.
Some people have a food protocol (to lose weight), others have a drinking protocol (to stop overdrinking), and I have a worry protocol (to stop over worrying!)
It’s simple. When I observe my mind worrying, I say to myself “oh look, there you go again trying to get us all worked up. In spite of what you’re feeling, I’m sure everything is fine. Worrying doesn’t solve anything.”
I then find a thought that I can believe about the current situation and save the worry for later. By later I mean exactly 9:30pm when an alarm goes off and I can #worryhard for exactly 5 min. Yep, that’s it.
I’ve decided to allow myself to worry for 5 minutes each day, and worry hard when I do. Then it’s time to move on.