78 Notes to Self: A Tarot Journal

We are all wanderers on this earth. Our hearts are full of wonder, and our souls are deep with dreams.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Worrisome Worry
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I should never leave a health-issue-related blog post for months without a follow up as several people have written to be sure I haven't succumbed to whatever-it-was.  Sorry about that.  I tend to withdraw from social interaction when I'm dealing with stuff, like cats hide when they're hurting or sick, me too.  UPDATE:  Nerve compression is all but gone.  I am left with some lingering muscle spasms and twitches but no pain.  (Yay!) I'm still working on another issue that will need some outpatient surgery in about a month and that has me worried, still, about finances.  All the tests and doctor visits at the end of last year took all of the HSA money and I still owe hundreds of dollars, not counting the upcoming procedure, which I expect will be a few thousand.  I am genuinely worried how to fund necessary health care.

Worry is something I'm very good at.  If medals were given I'd have a trophy wall dedicated to worry.  Logically I know that worry is harmful and doesn't solve anything.  I have much improved in the area of worry-control and find I can tame it faster, but I think it's just a natural by-product of my over-thinking mind. Also, worry has actually served me well at times so it's hard to let go of it.

I read this and completely related:

You have mixed feelings about your worries. On one hand, your worries are bothering you—you can't sleep, and you can't get these pessimistic thoughts out of your head. But there is a way that these worries make sense to you. For example, you think:
  • Maybe I'll find a solution.
  • I don't want to overlook anything.
  • If I keep thinking a little longer, maybe I'll figure it out.
  • I don't want to be surprised.
  • I want to be responsible.
You have a hard time giving up on your worries because, in a sense, your worries have been working for you.
The Worry Cure: Seven Steps to Stop Worry from Stopping You by Robert L. Leahy, Ph.D.

 I have found solutions to problems this way.  I have come up with plans to deal with unknown outcomes, if they happen.  I have figured stuff out this way.  So it's hard to completely let go of worry because it has worked for me.  And since one of the most common reasons someone requests a tarot reading is due to worry, I bet I have plenty of company in this problem area.

One suggestion I've read is to postpone your worries to a set "worry time."    This one doesn't work for me but it may work for others.  I do a different but similar thing: I distract myself by telling myself I can't spend time on the worry-of-the-moment right now and I'll deal with it later.  So while I don't set aside a certain time, I do push it away for "later."

"If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry.  If it's not fixable, then there is no help in worrying.  There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever." -- Dalai Lama XIV
One really helpful step to do is to parse out whether the worry thing is  actually solveable. If it's an imaginary "what-if?" it's probably not worth your time.  Unfortunately, these are precisely the kinds of worries that so many dwell on.  If you are able to take action on your problem right away, then it is probably a productive worry.  If not, then it's unproductive.  Recognizing the difference helps because action on a problem reduces or eliminates worry and for the ones you cannot act on, such as "What if my child is in a terrible accident someday?" you can more easily let go.

Worrying itself feels productive but it isn't.  When we are worrying our emotions are somewhat suspended because the worry keeps us in our heads and distracts us from feeling. While we are thinking about how to solve the problem (or so we tell ourselves that's what we're doing) we're avoiding the underlying emotions. Who wouldn't want to avoid feeling anxious, sad, or other negative emotions?  However, suppressed emotions don't go away and tend to fuel even more anxiety to the point that we end up worrying about why we're feeling what we're feeling!  Crazy.  It can be helpful to tell yourself to just feel whatever it is you're feeling, then cry, get angry, feel sad, have a brief pity party.  This one is hard for me, but I'm working on it.  

For the solvable worries, brainstorming possible solutions and/or doing a tarot reading can help tremendously.  The problem you're worrying about is often real and the steps toward a solution are very real and actionable, too.