My news is……I’m a worrier (Yes, spelling is correct, I don’t mean warrior)

And it appears many other people are worriers too.

My daughter got shingles twice in 2019, a couple of months apart. Apparently, this is very, very unusual as shingles is supposed to be for the elderly and like chicken pox, once you’ve had it you can’t get it again. I’m pleased to say that she recovered quickly and now we and she understands herself a little more as a result. This happening to her got me reflecting and thinking about how much I worried about things through my life and whether that has served me well or not.

I’ve come to 3 conclusions over the last 6 months or so:

1) Worry definition: ‘To think about problems or unpleasant things that might happen in a way that makes you feel unhappy and frightened’. The first question I’ve asked myself is do I worry about actual problems or potential problems?

2) It seems in society we are facing many anxiety related disorders. Mind’s website is a great source of information. Anxiety becomes a mental health problem if it impacts on your ability to live your life as fully as you want to. My worrying doesn’t get in the way like this. It feels like my worrying isn’t getting in the way that much…..but nonetheless I’d like to worry less!

3) Worrying about a big event or conversation I need to have helps me perform. This Forbes article helps explain how being anxious can help performance. I think when I’ve worried about work (and to a lesser extent home) it’s spurred me to action to meet or ideally exceed my clients needs.
So here’s 2 lists….things I worry about and things I don’t worry about! (Why don’t you write your own list down as often putting them on paper can change the way you think about them).

Things I worry about:

Being the best dad and husband that I can be (I am far from perfect….but making progress each day)

Hoping clients value my work

My parents getting older….but I’ve come to realise recently that they will live on in their children and grandchilden’s  personalities, values, experiences and stories

Whether I’m working 4.75 days a week  rather than the 4 days I intend to when I left the corporate environment to run my own business

That my kids might struggle in the coming years with the demands of school exams/competitive sports teams/friendships groups/social media pressures and getting on the housing ladder when they are older

The state of the planet as a result of society’s insatiable appetite for more “stuff”. I’m not helping much with travel to Asia, Africa, America and Europe for different clients planned this year already. ? and ☹

When I have a new client, a significant piece of new work or some demanding work with one of my favourite and/or challenging clients, I’ll work extra hard and keep a to-do list. I’ll also then occasionally wake at 3am with an idea on how to improve something. Perhaps I should be even more grateful to my unconscious mind as it tidies up anything that’s not been swept up at the end of the day.

That I eat too many crisps and salty snacks…..If they “get me in the end” it’ll have been a complete pleasure.

Things I don’t worry about (but in the past I might have):

  • That I can provide for my family via my business which is just 18 months old now – I’m proud to say it is now VAT registered.
  • As many things as I thought I might worry about when I started my ‘things I worry’ about list above….
  • My relationship with my wife. I believe that overall we both really make each other happy and where I could still do more jobs at home I’m making progress.
  • My kids – much of the time. They seem sensible enough and are turning into great young people to spend time with. I worry that it may be challenging for them to achieve their hopes and dreams. I think this is normal!
  • Having the ability to reduce any stress levels I might have occasionally. I do pilates regularly and run twice a week
  • Things that I can’t do anything about. I used to stress about being caught in traffic, but soon realised as I couldn’t control traffic why worry about it?…..although now with Waze I worry that wazers may not have picked up a recent incident! LOL.
  • Drinking too much. Between 15-35 I probably should have worried about this but wasn’t
  • Betting on some matches (Liverpool mainly) and (England) rugby on Paddypower. But I do worry that gambling isn’t a force for good in sports sponsorship.
  • Being grateful – as this is a super strength of mine

As an experienced Executive Coach I often come across clients who struggle with their self-confidence, hear too much from their own inner critic and those who worry about things a bit more than they probably should. Exploring this with them is often transformative as they look through a different lens, with far more self-awareness, more confidence and more resilience to deal with setbacks.

The funniest thing about worrying is that much of the time (for me) it’s entirely irrational/unlikely outcomes that I may worry about. When I think about it really hard…..worrying about whether my work will be liked/appreciated and useful has probably driven me to deliver at a very high standard much of the time. It’s served me well in my early career. It also feels like it doesn’t sit well with one of my aims to “enjoy the journey” as I go past the 18 month mark running my own business.

What I’m curious about

• Me and my experience worrying and how my kids worry/don’t worry.
• If you know me, I’m curious if you knew I was a worrier without me telling you!
• I’d be curious as to your experience if you’d describe yourself as a worrier.
• Has your worrying changed as you’ve moved through different life stages? Has it got more prominent or has it moved to the background?
• How does your worrying “show up”?
• How does it serve you & what might make it less disruptive and even more useful?

Advice for worriers:

In a recent Harvard blog by Sabina Nawaz, from her book, How Anxiety Traps Us, and How We Can Break Free,” this was the advice given: “Think about what you would tell someone else if they were faced with the same scenario, and follow your own advice. This will help you move from self-criticism to self-compassion, giving you more energy to focus on what’s important.”

My family upbringing is something that I’m super grateful for. I aspire to be as thoughtful and giving as my parents were. I know my mum, and I’m pretty confident my dad both worry too. I told them I was writing a blog on the topic and asked them what advice they’d give their younger selves/me/my kids in relation to worrying. That seems like a good place to finish and where I’m definitely heeding their advice I’m hoping my children can do a bit too so that any worrying they choose to do, serves them well and doesn’t get in the way of life.

Advice from my mum, Monica:

Don’t worry – it may never happen!  Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday, but yesterday’s tomorrow is all right today, so why worry about tomorrow?”

My mum (a quote that has come down from her mum and her grandma)

If you can do something about it, do it! If you can’t, worrying won’t help you!”

My dad
My mum & dad – should they/I be worried?!