Saturday, August 07, 2010


I want to keep a proper perspective. Really, I do. Though I think anybody who truly knows me well also knows that I fail miserably at it (the proverbial "do not", as Yoda might say). I know that I fail at this, and I still worry endlessly and on a regular basis make myself absolutely miserable with worry about either trivial problems or even things that aren't actually problems at all. And this can sometimes---much more often than should be the case, IMHO---lead to my frustrating the people I care about most (naturally, exactly the people I don't want to annoy). Meanwhile, people with real problems seem to be worrying much less than I am. It's at times like these that I realize just how much of a piece of work I am. I have trouble believing that my good qualities make up for this, given that I sometimes (and certainly far more often than I'd like) end up annoying other people with my worrying or my actions that are directly related to my worrying. And, naturally, it's my closest friends who I end up frustrating the most, and these are exactly the people I least want to annoy. How did I ever get this far without driving the people I care about away from me?

I think that during my life I have usually worried less when there is a real issue just because for most real issues that I have had to face, I spent so much time trying actively to solve them that it didn't leave much time or energy to worry about them. (I realize that there are plenty of real issues for which I would not have that luxury---and on occasion I have been faced with such issues---but such major issues have been far less common for me than ones that I felt I would be able to make concrete efforts to solve.)

I think I'm going to call someone to talk. There isn't a problem to solve, although I am genuinely worrying about something silly, and I think that talking will help me to act with more patience than I actually have without driving myself nuts in the process (and also to not frustrate one of my dearest friends, who besides her other excellent qualities has put up with me amazingly well for more than 2.5 years). And somehow certain types of uncertainty are the ones that correlate the most with my driving myself nuts. And I don't actually need to talk about this---just to have a live phone call with a friend and talk about stuff; something to occupy myself with another person I like involved and there with me in a stronger sense than just typing something on the computer.

Grrrr.... I am my own worst enemy. I always have been, and at the moment I'm exhausting myself mentally without any good reason at all.

Update (8/08/10): I had a 3-hour conversation with my friend Danny (who has been my friend for more than 30 years), and that helped a lot. I'm still worrying over something I don't think I should be worried about (and indeed have no right to worry about, given that other people I know have things to deal with that genuinely merit worry), but some time during which I am not driving myself nuts is always good. And I don't think I annoyed any of my friends either, which is also very good. Maybe one day I will achieve genuine patience, which I really wish I had. I think that lack of patience is one of my major flaws. And just because my best friends have shown willingness to put up with my flaws (with occasional expressions of frustration, as to be expected) doesn't mean that they should have to. Indeed, I more than anyone else don't want to be a cause of frustration for them---they are my friends, I care about them deeply, and I would rather that my flaws slowly eat myself alive than end up frustrating them on occasion. Though I think that adverse effects on me and on them actually tend to arise simultaneously in practice. ("With self-inflicted wounds.")

Update 2 (8/08/10): I am no longer worried about the thing about which I shouldn't have been worried in the first place. My so-called worst-case scenario [which, as I hinted, is not anything even remotely horrible... only suboptimal], which I should be able to handle more stoically anyway (because, as I mentioned, I have no right to worry about such things), is of course not happening. I still don't know what to do about my propensity to worry about things that pale in comparison to real worries.

"Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday."

In fact, I tend to follow the "worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum" bit in practice, but I think I'd be much happier if, instead, I just didn't worry about things so much---especially when the "bad" outcome is nothing more than suboptimal rather than genuinely bad.


Zifnab said...

Perspective flips:

People with real problems worry much less than you do - or you just don't see them worrying about those problems. I for example worry about all sorts of crazy things, but it's rare that I actually externalize any of it. I think it's pretty normal to not see nearly as much external worry in others as you do in yourself.

Bothering other people with your worries - sure, if you're worrying about silly things it might bother other people. But other people also care about you and how you're doing - it's ok to let people know that you're worrying about something, even if you think it's trivial. Just the act of releasing your worry to be something known by more than your internal monologue can make it so much easier - sure, you may think it's a trivial worry, but if you're holding it inside it grows. If you express it, it's shared and you've got another perspective.

Worrying about things you can't solve, or for which there's no problem to solve - this is normal, I have exactly this issue a lot. I worry about things which I have no control over, for precisely that reason - if I can do something about a problem, there's things I can try before I have to start worrying.

Re: updates: If you're worrying about something trivial about a particular person and don't want to bother them, well. My best advice is to just ask them - if you can say that you think it's a trivial worry, but it's still bothering you, that's ok. Especially in situations where it's popped up before, just being able to ask the person about it and being reassured that it wasn't something to worry about can make it a lot easier if it pops up again in the future.

Worrying about things that pale in comparison: I highly recommend finding a therapist to talk to once in a while - having an outlet for your small problems who's trained to be able to listen and has expertise on the subject of worrying to reassure you is an invaluable asset in your own health. I've been seeing a therapist for about a year now, for depression mainly but even once that's in control I think I am going to want to keep going once in a while - having an outlet to talk about your own personal perspectives and worries who's got expertise on the subject has been invaluable.

Mason said...

Yes, that's a very good point about what level of worry I see and what level of worry is actually there (and of self-perception of how much it comes across externally). I probably will have a short conversation about what was worrying me, though I did in this case have good reason to not want to bother anyone just yet. I know my friends care about me a great deal, but sometimes because I care about them, I know can sometimes be best to wait a bit before bothering them (or even just to not bother them at all, depending on the circumstances).

The something trivial wasn't actually about a particular person per se. I was worrying basically about the possibility of not seeing someone for another 6 weeks because of my upcoming travels after already not having seen them for a while, and this relates to a more general phenomenon (doo doo, doo doo doo) of spending less time than I want with the people I care about because of business and travelling on everybody's part---good reasons, of course, but I start to miss people very readily (and perhaps too readily). So it was about the edge rather than the node, if you want me to be concrete about it. :)

Incidentally, the reason for the updates was in case anybody was actually worrying about me as a result of what I wrote!