A Legacy of Worry

Originally posted January 2015

My husband likes to watch the Grand Prix, Formula One auto racing. I was curious as to how someone becomes a race car driver. It isn’t like there is the equivalent of little league or kids summer camp programs for Formula One, or maybe there is and I am naive. He thinks that most drivers come from a racing family. That got me thinking about where/what I come from. What is the legacy that has been handed down to me?

Unfortunately, my family’s legacy isn’t as glamorous as racing. After some soul searching I realized that I come from a long line of worriers. My mother and sister were the two most influential women in my young life. They are worriers, as am I. My grandmother was too, although she was from a generation where feelings were kept close to the vest. I see the effects of the worrier archetype on my two daughters, who are 11 and 14. For me, it shows up as:

  • What will people think?

  • I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.

  • I don’t want to disappoint someone.

  • I don’t want to make a mistake and look stupid

These are overarching examples; there are a million other worries that can reside beneath those. Not everyone comes from a family where worry is the undercurrent, but I bet most of us can relate to some level of worry or fear that holds us back in someway; even if what that looks like is not fully participating in our own happiness because of energy that is expended on worrying. Worry and fear are really one in the same and it is hard to move forward from a place of fear.

My mentor, Martha Beck, talks about approaching life as an observer; not to pass judgment, but to notice what is happening. Once the observer role is taken on it allows space for awareness and that is the first step toward change. It is also said that by simply allowing yourself to notice, the situation has already changed.

In a virtual retreat that closed out 2014 and welcomed in 2015 we were asked to go inside and look for our theme for 2015. What came up for me was ‘trust’. I know that means trust in myself, trust in others, and trust that all will be well. I am taking some big leaps in 2015 and need to dig deep into trusting that I am supported. Coming from a legacy of worry, trust is not easy. I’ve resolved to use my worry as a catalyst. When worry rears its head, I am going to observe it and my behavior without judging. I will also explore what I am afraid of in that situation and what part of me needs reassuring or self-care to quiet the worry. Byron Katie created a method of questioning our thoughts called “The Work” (www.thework.com), part of Katie’s method calls for coming up with evidence to support a new thought that is used in place of the stressful one. Looking for evidence to counter my worry will be part of my approach to dealing with worry in 2015.

If you take some time to think about where you want to go in 2015, what do you want to change, polish up or revamp? What theme emerges for you? What is your area of focus for the New Year? And when that comes up, can you play the observer role for now and just notice?

Please share in the comments, I’d love to hear.

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© 2017 by Jennifer Sherwood Coaching