Calm Down People: How to Let Go and Break the Worry Cycle
You may know this drill: you’re reading a magazine, and you spend more time flipping over the articles than actually reading them since so many of them seem irrelevant or just plain dumb. (Honestly, Cosmo, it’s not that easy to decipher a guy based on his hands.)
However, the other day, I was enjoying my ritual of coffee and a magazine when I came across an article in Self that was, in my opinion, surprisingly valid and logical. The title: ‘Life is good. So why can’t you stop worrying?’
I couldn’t help but think that this piece was written exclusively for me. (Yes, I guess I am just that vain and self-absorbed.) The writer had a great point: ‘Too many women are fretting about the future instead of savoring happiness now.’ I would even say that it is not just women who routinely do this. I think that as human beings, we tend to find ourselves unable to appreciate the here and now without contemplating what could go wrong in the immediate or distant future.
It is difficult to simply let things be when life is going well. In a world with so much to fear and dislike, it figures that we should anticipate the other shoe dropping. We live in a crazy world, and it might just be our defense mechanism for the issues surrounding us, which this article referred to as ‘defensive pessimism.’ However, this article also raised the point that ‘anxiety that prevents a person from relishing life even when things are going swimmingly is a genuine problem.’
Now, I am not trying to get all Dr. Phil on you, but life is too short for worrying about divorce upon receiving a marriage proposal or thinking that your friend is not being genuine when she gives you a compliment.
It is amazing how much I can worry when I really feel like it. Give me a word, any word, and I will somehow find a way to fret about it. (I pray that this did not just lose me an acquaintance or two who do not wish to deal with my neuroses.) Which brings me to another cause for worry when it comes to the act of worrying. The people closest to you can only handle so much and, sometimes, having to constantly reassure someone that everything is alright can cause a friend to give up trying.
The truth is, and I hate to break this even to myself, that we do not always have control of what happens in our lives. The way I see it, we need to stop worrying so much because sometimes we do not have a say in what happens in our lives.
Maybe I am only speaking to myself. (I really hope not.) Luckily, there are ways to stop this crazy cycle. One option: try peeling an orange. Yes, that’s right; it turns out that pressing into and smelling something citrus-y (an orange seems to fit the bill here) brings you into the moment and allows you to focus.
If you are not the fruity kind, or if you simply don’t buy into food therapy, then be a bit more normal and catch yourself before you take your worrying too far. For instance, take time out to worry, and then let it go. To quote the author of the Self magazine article, ‘Breaking the perpetual worry cycle takes separating unproductive fretting from the kind of problem-solving that helps everyday life run more smoothly.’
In other words, I think it is time for us to enjoy life when it is worth enjoying