From Worrier to Warrior!

Jan 31, 2012   //   by Steve Wooding   //   A Slice of Lemon, Articles  //  No Comments

IN SHORT: Worriers dwell on future failure, whilst warriors get busy now to build future success.

“Anxiety is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind.  If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.”
[Arthur Somers Roche, 19/20th-century US author]

“Worry is like a rocking chair – it gives you something to do but doesn’t get you anywhere.”

“The warrior’s approach is to say ‘Yes’ to life.”
[Joseph Campbell, 20th-century US author, teacher & philosopher] 

(1041 words, approx 6-9 mins to read.)

Anxiety is one of those things we all experience from time to time – it’s natural as it’s one of the methods our unconscious or intuitive self uses to get us to pay attention to the future. However, it’s supposed to be a very temporary condition that passes when we decide what to do and then take action.

Sometimes though we let anxiety get out of hand and it grows into worry. And if we still don’t take action it can become paralysing fear.

But have you ever noticed how some people just don’t seem to worry much at all, whilst others can appear to do it all the time, sometimes over details that you might feel are small and not that significant at all?

If you aren’t sure you know exactly what I mean, let me tell you about Sally. All her friends call her Sal.

Sal looks after a venue where various sections of the community meet for different events and she’s usually there when the events are running. Officially, she’s responsible for the health and safety stuff, as well as a few other things. But she was a bit of a worrier.

Actually, to be honest, she was a lot of a worrier! From the moment the doors open to the moment the last person left, she’d be rushing around from room to room, making sure that everything’s OK, wondering if there’s something she hasn’t checked up on. She may check the same thing several times over the course of a few hours because in the rush and worry she’d forgotten she’d already checked it.

You see, part of Sal’s problem is that she has very clear and fixed ideas of exactly how things are supposed to be and when they aren’t, she gets jittery.

This means that she often doesn’t get time to join in, or just relax and enjoy what’s going on around her, simply because she’s too anxious on the inside. And if something isn’t quite right, she’s even been known to get into a panic because she’s already worried about what she’s still got left to check, or what she’s forgotten and this means that she hasn’t room in her head to focus on what needs to be done right now.

This worry also meant that every time something needed adjusting, repairing or fixing, she was calling the caretaker to let him know, ask his advice, or get him to come in and fix it. On some days it seemed like it was every few minutes, much to the annoyance of the caretaker, especially when the repairs couldn’t be done there and then because the venue was in use.

She sometimes even worried that if there was a fire, no-one would know what to do, so she began practising emergency drills at almost every event, and when she wasn’t making everyone do them, she was making sure they thought about them! Of course this meant that other people began to enjoy the events, and her company, less and less.

Fortunately before too long, Sal decided it was time to do something different, something that, if she did it, would mean she could make sure all was healthy and safe enough and yet still enjoy the events she was responsible for.

So here’s what we did, and to many it’ll seem like common sense, but when you’ve been a worrier, sometimes it can take a little help to see a way through to a more calm way of life.

We sat down and wrote a list of all the things she thought she needed to check at the venue. It started out as a very long list! But then, as we went through it item by item and keeping only those things that really mattered, and letting go of all those that made very little difference, the list became smaller and smaller.

We did need to negotiate a few items, but when I asked the question “What would actually happen if you didn’t have that exactly the way you think it should be?” she began to realise that a lot of things she was worried about didn’t matter much at all, and only some of them were truly important.

Now Sal just goes around with her much shorter and very manageable list, running through it from top to bottom, inside and outside too. She ticks off each item that’s OK, having realised that so many things don’t need to be perfect, just workable.

For anything that does need some attention – we all know things do from time to time – she notes down the problem, and what she’s going to do right now to work around it.

Just as an example, recently the edge of the carpet near one of the doors came loose. But this time instead of panicking that a child might trip up and hurt themselves and have to go to hospital and then the centre might get sued and its reputation damaged , she simply got some black and yellow hazard tape, firmly taped down the loose edge and made a note of what she’d done.

She also now leaves a note for the caretaker so he can come along later, when the event is over and the space is empty, and make an adjustment or proper repair, and that’s exactly what he did with the carpet.

Now if you met Sal, you’d wonder if I’d been describing the same person. She’s relaxed and so much more in control. And instead of being at the mercy of what’s going on in her head, she gets to enjoy what’s going on around her instead.

That’s not to say she doesn’t get anxious from time to time, but now she knows all she has to do is ask herself if it’s really that important, and if it is, what she can do to solve it now, and if that’s not practical right now, how to work around it, knowing that she, or the caretaker, can sort it out later when everything’s quieter.

Remember, whilst the future can be seriously sabotaged by our present fears, it’s also supported by and spun from our present actions.

Worriers dwell on future failure, whilst warriors get busy now to build future success.

‘Til next time,



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