Category Archives: Staying centered

You worry because you love the payoff

Or at least, I’m pretty sure that’s why I do it. I’ve been on this earth long enough to know that people only do things that offer some sort of payoff. Really. I used to gossip about others (OK, I still do occasionally but I’m trying to stop in conjunction with my effort to become less judgmental. More on that in another post.) because it made me feel superior to them, thus better about myself.

Well, that’s what I thought. It was a temporary high, with no lasting effect because, really, we only feel better about ourselves when we actually do something to improve the way we move in the world. Trying to take down your neighbor because she sends her kids to school with Lunchables instead of the turkey sandwich and apple you pack doesn’t count. Besides, your kid is trading her sandwich for a bag of Doritos and 10 Skittles. But I digress.

I discovered the elusive worrying payoff when my son came home late one night. Fat drops of rain cut through the beam of his headlights as he bumped into the driveway, and the relief that washed over me offered quite a rush.

Was a few moments of pleasure worth an hour or so of imagining him careening off the road on a washed-out curve? I don’t think so. The other problem is that worrying can take up the better part of a day. I mean, I’m practically a professional worrier. I can begin the day worrying that the kids will be late to school today and finish the day worrying that they’ll be late tomorrow, with plenty of other worries in between.

Yeah, I’m the life of the party when worry has me by the throat.

We can be a lot more fun – and get a lot more done – when we learn to be at peace with uncertainty. The best way I’ve found to move in that direction is to build the confidence that I can handle whatever life sends my way. This means working to have a healthy body and emotional stability. How? Well, I’m still working through that. I think regular exercise is a good start.