“No worries” is something we say in Australia in any and every context. You can’t make it to dinner, no worries. You are going to be late for work, no worries. Your arm just got bitten off by a great white, no worries. Its ubiquitousness suggests that we are a country of happy, laid back, carefree creatures. But underneath that worry-free façade I just don’t believe no one is worrying. With so many lethal creepy crawlies lurking in every corner, there’s just no bloody way.
I used to think that you had to worry about something to make sure whatever it was didn’t happen. I figured that if you put in the effort and dedication that it took to worry about something, then you would be rewarded by it all actually being ok. It was weird logic I guess and led to a lot of concerted and dedicated worrying.
The frustrating thing is most of the time we seem to worry about things we have no control over. And they can become like fixations or obsessions. And despite it all feeling like a huge wasted effort, it’s something we all do.
I’m not sure if it’s better to bring full awareness to the things we are worried about or to pretend they don’t exist at all. Depending upon how you feel your worries may seem closer or farther away. It’s easier to adopt a “she’ll be right” (another colourful Australian idiom) approach when we feel good about our lives and ourselves and are generally more positive. In those times, everything is ok, is meant to be, all the risks we take will work out for the best and not sweating the small stuff is a piece of cake. She (read: everyone and everything) will be alright.
When we feel scared or shaky or darker or more negative, it almost feels like our worries could eat us. We get angry at ourselves for getting into whatever situation we are in, confronted with what worries us. We get really, brutally, rational and take an extremely cautious look at our lives and no doubt conclude that we are, to put it bluntly, screwed. If you are already feeling bad or sad or mad then thinking about those things that worry you the most is probably, unsurprisingly, not going to make you feel any better.
Because, no matter how much we try to mitigate it, life is full of risks. Everywhere we look bad things could happen. When we make decisions or take actions, we usually also make a whole host of assumptions that things will work out okay and in our favour. If we didn’t believe that, then we wouldn’t make brave decisions. I don’t think it’s wrong or naïve to think positively. We need that positivity to be able to do things in the world, to create to express, to live. But, try as we might, unfortunately there is no guarantee that everything will end up how we’d like it to. And so worry creeps in. Maybe this could happen or that could not happen, or no one will like this or us. Looking back, while we’re in full worry mode, it can be astounding to realise how we had the balls to make the decision in the first place.
Worrying can feel like a complete waste of time because whether something happens or not is out of our control. But it’s hard to stop when you get into a worried spin. You can jump from one nerve-wracking thing in your life to the next, worrying all the way as you go. The worst is when the worry sets in at night, just when you’re intending to calmly nod off. Suddenly sleep seems distant, as you end up spending the night thinking of everything in your life that could possibly go wrong.
Sometimes the best thing is to write everything you’re worried about down. Lay it all bare, bring it all out. Everything from the reasonable to the ridiculous. Once it’s on paper, it might not feel as dire or as relevant or you may realise the things you worry about are really unlikely to happen, or that you can’t do much to stop them from happening anyway so really aren’t worth worrying about. Sharing your worries to supportive friends or family also can take some of the sting out. Sometimes you need to hear it from someone else, that you will be ok and not to worry. Or you could at least worry together and connect over it.
Sometimes I feel angry at myself for worrying and wish I could be more of a cool cat, and generally just better at trusting that things will work out. But then being angry at myself on top of worrying doesn’t really go anywhere because I can’t really seem to help it in the first place.
Worrying is one thing but making decisions and taking action while you’re in your worry is another. Those fretful choices can lead you to places you don’t want to be. It’s like you have to get through the worst of the worry and then make a decision when you are more clear headed and can access your intuition again. Overly rational decisions aren’t always the best, or will lead you to what you ultimately want. Sometimes you will make decisions that aren’t rational at all but they instinctively feel right. Putting a rational and conservative spin on them in your times of worry will probably leave you feeling like a goose.
But the universe’s magic doesn’t abide by rational laws and sometimes we need to be brave and do things that could at times be called stupid by the worrying, conservative, risk adverse voices in our heads.
I think it comes down to being aware of your worrying and allowing it to flow. Don’t try to stop it but accept that you are worried about something. And then having heaps of compassion for yourself. Knowing it’s ok, you’re fundamentally ok and trusting everything is as it’s meant to be. Give yourself a break for decisions you made in the past and trust that they were the best you could make at the time.
Embrace the part of you that worries and also that part of you that is bold and daring- all of it makes up who you are. And know, that fundamentally, she’ll be right mate.