Recently, I began writing an article, but I had some trouble finishing it, editing it, and even publishing it. Even after the editorial was complete and ready to publish, I kept thinking, “It’s not perfect yet; I don’t have exactly the right words; I need more time.” I worried whether people were going to like it, whether it was too offensive, or if it just wasn’t very interesting. I was worried, but not sure why, exactly.
I contemplated my worry and considered where it might have stemmed from. At first, I couldn’t think of what could possibly make me worry about this particular editorial so much. I know my strengths; others have praised me on my writing and research skills, and above all else, I enjoy what I do: educating and helping through writing. So what was the deal with my worry? It seemed irrational to be so concerned when I know, based on experience that everything turns out fine, for the most part.
My feelings told me one thing, “you will fail.” However, my mind told me, “that’s irrational thinking; you have no proof that will happen.”
Some time ago, I learned a wonderful mantra: your feelings are like a wave that comes and goes. Whenever I worry, go through depressions, or experience other feelings, I remember that mantra. Yes, it is true, feelings don’t last,—they are temporary, just like a wave. Sometimes in times of deep emotion, or as in this case, anxiety, I am wrapped up in the feeling of that moment and it is difficult for me to get out of it. But, eventually, I do get out.
Some worry can be good. Good worry lets you know you need something that you aren’t getting; it can protect you from harm, and encourage you to take action. However, when worry gets excessive, it can be damaging mentally and even physically, such as in panic or high blood pressure. Worry in which we sit and think and think and think, without problem solving, creates more stress and worrying about worry!
When I head into that downward spiral, I have to remind myself, sometimes aloud, that my incessant thinking isn’t useful and I need to pull myself out of the worry mode. I make a plan. First, I identify the problem and project the outcome of what I want to happen; then, it’s as if I was filling out a flow-chart with all the steps in between. For me, having a systematic plan is useful because I can see exactly how to get to my ‘destination.’ It’s a great way for me to rid myself of worry, start acting, and complete my goals. More often than not, my worries disappear when I take action. It’s a funny thing, even the act of writing this editorial, I feel more confident and productive, and feel like I can move on from the worry. Mission accomplished!