Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Worrying Is My Comfort Zone.

Yesterday, I had the rather disconcerting experience, of being granted sufficient detachment to really see one of my character defects in action. I'm talking about worry. I was raised by a champion worrier, and have fought with this aspect of my character through all my years of recovery, with varying levels of success.

I've had wonderful periods where I've managed to let go of worry and just float serenely through my life, and it's given me a taste of how life can feel, when I'm not obsessing and fretting. (I want more of that.)

Yesterday morning, we were preparing to go to the bank. I made some comment to my spouse, and was answered with, "You're just looking for something to worry about." I replied with some heat, "No I'm not!" and then went into another room to do whatever, and began to think about my response - I know I only ever respond that way, when the other person's remark has been accurate. That comment got me thinking, and I decided to pay close attention to my day, and the worries therein.

We were successful at the bank, and were not even out of the parking lot onto the street, before I said something along the lines of, "I'm feeling a bit anxious about not having heard from anyone wanting to do the house inspection for the sale..."

I heard myself, and realised that I had removed one topic, "bank" and immediately slotted another, "buyer's house inspection," into place, with not a moment's peace in between them. 

I watched myself do this one more time that day, and wondered, how much reality the worrying could have, if I can slot one topic out, and slot another in, without missing a step?

I realised that the topics are irrelevant, they seem to be completely interchangeable when I'm in this mode. I had always believed that the worries were relevant, and I just needed to let go of thinking about whatever topic was on my mind, as in, just let go of worrying about such and such. Yesterday, watching myself, I realised that when life is changing around me, even if I'm the one who has instigated the changes, I move into worry mode, and the topics are immaterial, it's the worrying itself which is my comfort zone during these periods.

(This may sound self-evident to you, but believe me, I was gobsmacked to discover it.)

Each one of the worries I'd listed off to my spouse, was listed back to me as completely beyond my control. I know that, so what is this all about? I believe it's about always having gone through times of change in my life, with a big knot of fear and worry in my gut, and being so accustomed to that fluttery awful stressful feeling, that I do not even question it anymore - that's just how I feel during these times.

I love this program; without it, I'd never have set myself the task yesterday of paying attention to my internal dialogue, in order to see if I could see any patterns. I'd never have realised that in times of stress, it isn't that I worry, and I don't like worrying, it's that worrying during times of stress feels right, feels comfortable, feels like an old sweater I put on against the cold draft of change.


  1. What wonderful insight! You wrote in an earlier post a phrase that grabbed my attention "running on habit and instinct", those coping behaviours that comforted us at one time but now get in our way of spiritual growth. I hope that one day you'll find the "old sweater" too small, smoothering and uncomfortable enough to take off.

  2. I used to be such a worrier but I've learned that so much is beyond my control. Worrying never solved anything.