Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Is there an answer to the misery of living with worry?

Imagine the scenario.

It’s Monday morning, the start of a new week, and after a quick coffee you head off to the  station for work.

You arrive to find chaos, the station is packed, there are no trains, and the timetable reads “severe delays”.

You immediately panic, Oh my God I’m going to be late.

My boss will think I am not concientious, I’ll get a name for being untrustworthy.

Hang on, I haven’t been late in three years, and this is not my fault.

But they might not believe the train was delayed, they will assume I slept in.

And probably today will be the very day I am needed to be in on time as something urgent has cropped up, now as I am standing helpless on this platform. 

I’ll ring in and let them know.

Hold on, the train may arrive, and then I’ll look stupid, and they’ll think there wasn’t a delay after all.

And what if they don’t believe me when I ring, and think I am still in bed – with a hangover... calm it, they know you don’t drink.

Time ticks on, minute by excruciating minute, the panic rises in bursts, like spurts of molten lava.

Oh my God, even if the train does arrive now, I’ll only just make it on time. Why isn’t everyone else PANICKING????

I am ALWAYS early to work, they will think I am becoming lazy, that I don’t take my job seriously.

The train arrives, you squeeze into the carriage.

You spend the journey frantically looking at your watch.

You imagine everyone else having already arrived at work, looking at your empty seat, wondering where you are.

In your head you hear colleagues whispering “must have had a late one last night”, “letting his standards slip”, “trust him to be late this morning of all mornings”, “there’s no excuse for tardiness”.

The panic builds, you will the train to move faster.

But as it stops at each station you feel the pangs of terror magnify.

Move...damn it... quicker.... sod the other passengers...

The train arrives at the station, you tear out of the platform, up the road puffing and panting,  barging past the fruit seller you usually wave good morning to.

You charge into the office, terrified, heart pounding, bursting with apologies.

You glance at the clock, it isn't even 9, you are still early, and the first in, nobody even bats an eyelid.

If this sounds familiar then like me, you are probably “a worrier”.

I have the capacity to worry about anything. It has been a burden which has tormented me since childhood.

I analyse, and estimate the outcome of every situation, mentally dealing with all the catastrophic possibilities.

At school my teachers asked my parents why I was “such a worrier”? They replied if I didn’t have a worry, I would worry about that.

I make my peace with God each time I get on a plane, and always emerge safely at my destination with my finger nails chewed down to the quick.

When I am ill, I ponder making a will, while worrying I’ll get the sack for having been off work.

I worry about disappointing people, being taken advantage of by people, people thinking I am taking advantage of them, going to parties, not going to parties, spending money, not spending money – you name it, I worry about it.

I lie in bed with figures, conversations, interviews,  journeys to be made, holiday I need to book, weight, a grey hair, food, shopping, lists, plugs, loose tiles, intruders, spontaneous adult death syndrome, all bouncing furiously and relentlessly around my head relentlessly.

It may sound funny, but it can be a misery and something others who breeze through life oblivious to worry and stress find hard to understand.

I am sure it is a biological thing and to a certain extent out of my control. 

However, I came across a glimmer of hope on the Daily Mail website today, writer Liz Jones apparently suffers from a crippling lack of self confidence.

Not exactly the same, but fits into the category of irrational self doubt.

She talks about a new trend for celebrities hiring “confidence coaches” to help you get through life’s little worries.

Apparently, by using positive language and analysing your reaction to situations you can tackle and reverse these destructive chains of emotion.

Liz spoke to self-confidence guru Paul McGee about how to burst through that wall of fear and self-limitation and embrace life with all its challenges.

Ok, I sound like I have spent too long in the self-help section of Waterstones, but for other worriers out there, he gave her these top tips to break the habit.

Ask yourself:

Where is this issue on a scale of one to ten, where ten is death?

How important will this be in six months’ time?

Is my response appropriate?

How can I influence or improve the situation?

What can I learn from this?

What will I do differently next time this happens?

What can I find that is positive in this situation?

So if all goes well,  the next time the train is late to work – I won’t care so much.

How Not To Worry by Paul McGee (Capstone, £10.99). 

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