And then what? Stopping the Worry Demon
Lately I’ve had a few people ask me how I stopped the “What if” demon. She’s been in my family for generations and had a rather cozy spot in my life for so long, along with her brethren of friends.
Now I’ve read more positive thinking & self help books, articles, on line email threads, than I could count on all of my fingers and toes times.. 10. (Maybe more) And I’m not bashing them, they’ve all offered me something, in some way. Some, of course, far more so than others (“Feel the fear and do it anyway” – that title alone got me from 16-30).
However what has actually “cured” me, and saved the villagers of the small town living below the snowball that becomes an avalanche when I worry and get lost with the “what if” demon is this..
I simply take the fear and follow it through, quickly, simply, but honestly.
I’m out wearing a dark colored shirt, and I realize it’s covered in cat fur (white cat fur). I wonder what people think of me, what if they see it? what if they judge me for it? what if they don’t like me because I’m so untidy? What if I were out with a friend, how would they feel being seen with me? And … it begins.
So I take it from there. And then what?
They see it. And then what?
They judge it. And then what?
They care, or they don’t. And then what?
Do I care what they think? Possibly. And then what?
Well, why do I care? Will my friend be embarrassed? And then what?
Perhaps they won’t want to go out with me. And then what?
I’ll go out alone in the future. And then what?
I won’t mind who sees the fur, it’s my cat, I love her, I’m not harming anyone with a few cat hairs. And then what?
Ok, they judge me and give me a snide look or turn away. And then what?
I continue on my day, never to run in to this complete stranger again. And then what?
Now, this is how it goes with 90% of the worries I have, and 95% of the worries I hear from other people – so concerned with the approval of others, and their presentation to people they will never meet again that they get caught up in the what if game.
Even if it’s what if with people they know, co-workers, spouses, friends, lovers, parents..
So I’ll add in the positive way this event actually happened today, before going on.
I run in to someone I know, the cashier at the grocery store. And then what?
We actually get in to a wonderful conversation about our cats, I find out he’s a cat person and is very concerned with how my cats vet visit went. And then what?
I actually fell like I connected with someone, they cared, and I cared, and we were better for it.
Ok, so lets take it even further into the demon realm, and say it is someone I know. And then what?
They judge me, dislike me for being so unkempt and unpolished. And then what?
I don’t talk to them again, they won’t return my calls. And then what?
Lets be honest, anyone that doesn’t get me and my love of my cats, isn’t someone I really want to be friends or close acquaintances with – they can’t understand me or appreciate me. So I decide to move on. And then what?
Well… and then I make friends that do get me, that love cats, and dogs, that don’t mind a few cat hairs on their clothes and we have great, relaxing times together. And then what?
Perhaps it doesn’t go so well. Now this is where the demon really sinks her teeth in.
Perhaps I can’t find any new friends, perhaps they all seem to hate animals or my cat hair shirt. And then what?
Do I die? Does anyone die? Is my cat hurt in any way? Is this event so catastrophic that life itself ceases to exist because of this event?
No? Well then.. I move on, I let go, and the crazy, neurotic snowball that was building steam has suddenly disappeared. Poof!
There is no fuel for the fire.
My best friend hasn’t called me back, my husband hasn’t texted me, my boss didn’t smile at me as they normally do each day. And then what?
Do I die? Does anyone die? Is someone going to end up in the hospital because of this moment? (perhaps if I don’t stop the snowball, yes.. mental hospitals count) No?
Well then, move on.
Life is beautiful, and this particular turn of ours, on this merry go round of nuttiness – this act we play out on the stage that is called life. It’s short in the scheme of things.
Too short to be caught up in worry, in fear, in letting snowballs bury the poor villagers of the cute mountain town below.
So there’s my secret. Something I haven’t found in any book so far.
And then what? What then? Can I live with what happens next? Literally.. Yes? Good. Let’s move on.