Today’s Your Turn Challenge prompt is ‘Teach us something that you do well’.
What do I do well?
So here’s a how to / what not to do post.
Try not to take it too seriously. I won’t.
The How To Class for the Beginning Worrier
Step one: The Choice
Choose what you want to worry about.
Believe me, as proud as you may be of your current ability to maintain a general state of worry, fidgeting with a single thought or what-if scenario until you have turned it into stress is an art form.
This could be anything from your health, to whether your coworkers think you stink, to why your (insert relationship) doesn’t call you more often. Just pick something you can stick with for several hours at least. Eventually you will develop the mental stamina to hold on to a topic for weeks, months, and even years. But pace yourself, this will take much practice.
With practice you can work up to worrying over several topics at the same time, but that was only for the advanced class, and my insurance doesn’t cover the liability. Not after the incident.
Now, take a deep breath.
Did you enjoy that?
Good, because it’s the last one you’re allowed for a while.
From here on out it’s tense, shallow, breaths that only serve to provide feedback to your physical form that now is not the time to relax. Deep breaths have a habit of telling your body there’s temporal space for such occurrences. Do not sabotage all the upcoming training by providing physical feedback that will merely confuse your body and lessen the chance of an ulcer, stroke, or heart attack.
Now, do you have a topic in mind? Will it go the long-haul?
Step Two: Technique
Now, everyone, after a while, can develop their own style of worry. At this point I will merely walk you through a couple of the simpler forms and you can craft your own from there.
Technique #1: The Silent One
This form of worry is all about internalizing your concerns, feelings, and the perceived feelings and concerns of all around you. Don’t let actual words be your only food for worry, see if you can find clues as to how people really feel about you by watching how they interact with others as opposed to you. Does Jake laugh a little more when talking with Bryce than when he’s around you? Does your boss spend more time hovering over Cindy’s desk and projects than yours?
This is good. This means that there might be something wrong with you. Go with that thought. Try to pick out exactly what it is about you, your personality, your laugh, your clothing, that would make someone like or respect you less than those around you.
In fact, spend a great deal of time comparing yourself to the people who make you feel inferior. What about them makes you uncomfortable? What would make people gravitate to them as opposed to you?
Now the important thing about this technique is that you never talk to anyone about your concerns. That’s why it’s called The Silent One. You bottle this up and revel in the feelings of inadequacy, mild paranoia and pent up anger and frustration. Talking about it might make you feel better. Or worse, let people know there’s something potentially wrong with your psyche and try to help.
We don’t want help. We want worry. Remember that.
Technique #2: The Spewer
This one is similar to your first choice, but different in one way: You talk about your worry. To everyone. All the time.
Tread lightly, here. You don’t want to let them know that you’re too serious. Try to insert tones of humorous self-deprecation, flippancy, and biting sarcasm into your speeches.
I call them speeches because you don’t really want two sided conversations when it comes to ‘spewing’ your worry all over those who would try and help or comfort you. No, you don’t want them to get a word in edgewise, because they might manage to change the subject. If they manage that they may find a way to make you laugh, and that would not do. Laughter is one of the best ways to negate all the lovely negative hormones we are working so hard to generate within your body. Laughter would get in the way of graduating simple Worry and stepping into the glory of self-induced Stress. And as you know, deep, soul-crippling stress is the ultimate goal of every beginning worrier. Keep the prize in mind at all times. Do not be dissuaded by well meaning, but ignorant friends and loved ones.
Have you chosen a technique?
Now on to some of the tips and tricks that can speed up your eventual trip to the emergency room or, better yet, morgue.
Do not underestimate the power of the dark side… of looking at every eventuality that could happen. Don’t let reality play too big a part in this. The What-If Game is really just a free-flowing exercise to create tension in your mind and body. Too much ‘reality’ could get in the way.
Avoid watching comedies or feel good movies of any kind, children or animals playing, or tender moments between people who genuinely care about each other. There is an advanced technique for how to turn all these mushy, gooey things to your emotional advantage, but for now it’s best to avert your eyes and go through a litany of your inadequacies.
Do not exercise more than absolutely necessary! Exercising releases positive hormones that have been proven to undo the effects of worry. If you must be physically fit for any reason, try and develop a mantra that will keep your mind distracted from the positive effects. Who knows, perhaps worrying over your chosen topic while maintaining a higher than normal heart rate will contribute to heart palpitations.
Avoid healthy food and quality dark chocolate. Fried foods, sugar, and simple carbohydrates are your only friends. Not only will they quickly elevate your blood sugar and leave you hanging after a glycemic crash, they will also undermine your immunity to the viruses that are circulating your place of employment, the mall, and church. A good month long bout with influenza can be a beautiful thing for those attempting to create worry in their lives. You will have more time to sit on the couch contemplating your mortality, how nobody loves you, and why you don’t have or deserve all the good things in life.
Be proactive in the shower. Many people use time in the shower to relax or sing. Do not fall into this sappy trap. The acoustics of the bathroom are perfect for hearing your own voice as you go over your impossible to do list for the day and find all the ways your day could royally suck. If you happen to be a before bed bather use this time to go over the wrongs of the day; really cement them in your mind.
As long as we’re on the subject of talking to yourself, here’s a tip for the Spewer. Mutter. Mutter as you walk through the house, shop for all the wrong foods, or drive the kids to school (it’s never too early to scar them for life). This will set you up as a person to be avoided. No one wants to initiate a conversation with someone who seems to be just a little more than one step toward crazy. If you get really good at this it’s a great way to spread the worry. Those around you will begin feeling concern not only for your well being, but also for theirs. You never know, perhaps some serial killers started out as mutterers.
That’s it for Worry 101. I hope you learned some ways to make your life and the lives of those who pretend to love you truly miserable.
Have a crappy day!
* * *
Now before you get all huffy with me, please know that in the past I have worked up a class 3 cold sore within a couple of hours. I used to worry so hard I lost weight, catch every illness that came through, and (especially as a college student) silently cry myself to sleep without disturbing the sibling in the bed four feet from me.
That’s not to say I had a horrible life. I just didn’t know how to deal with the outside pressures or how to silence the inner critic that constantly told me I wasn’t trying hard enough. I know how blinding a tension headache can be, how to hold in the tears until an appropriate location could be found, and what it feels like to tamp down a panic attack while still taking notes so you don’t completely fail this class.
It sucks. A lot.
But it’s possible to turn things around. Not easy, mind you, possible.
A few tips that worked for me:
- Eat a high protein breakfast. This will give you the level blood sugar to help keep some of the more self-sabotaging thoughts at bay.
- Their bad day is not your bad day. Just because someone else is in a foul mood does not mean you have to absorb their negative vibes. (I am still working on this one, especially when it comes to loved ones.)
- Dark chocolate. When you have a few moments to yourself snap off a couple bites of your favorite chocolate. The darker the better. If you have trouble portioning try the smaller, individually wrapped pieces sold by Dove or Hershey’s. If you totally can’t be trusted with it in the house, then try setting a time or two a week when you go out and treat yourself to a small bar. Just remember to savor it. Let it melt in your mouth as you relax back and take a few slow, deep breaths.
- You time is very important. One of my earliest discovered techniques was a warm bath and a good book. Find something relaxing that takes you away from others but out of yourself: a good book, a favorite movie, a walk through a favorite park. This is not being selfish. Self care means you are making sure that you are in top condition to face life as the best version of you. Do not let anyone, not even yourself, make you feel guilty for taking a few moments during your coffee break or an hour in your evening, to bring yourself out of your day and to a more centered emotional state.
I hope some of this helped. Or at least that the Worry 101 class made you chuckle. :)
Mmm, now I’m thinking about chocolate.