My seven year has become quite the worrier. I suppose he always has been, but it’s become more pronounced lately.
Unfortunately, my boy gets this from me. Much as I’ve tried to shield him from my anxious ways, it seems it’s just part of who he is—for now. The funny thing is, I raise my two boys the same way yet I have one who over thinks everything and one who is calm as a cucumber.
So, it hit me the other day: my youngest has been inflicted with theWhatifs. He wastes so much of his time and energy worrying about unending hypotheticals: What if the kids make fun of my haircut? What if we get stuck in an elevator in Disney World? What if I can’t fall asleep? What if my cut won’t get better, ever?
I’m not happy about it; I know from experience the debilitating nature of the Whatifs, and I do not want that for him.
When I think of the Whatifs, Shel Silverstein’s famous poem immediately comes to mind—particularly because I use his term to describe our little infliction:
Last night, while I lay thinking here,
Some Whatifs crawled inside my ear
And pranced and partied all night long
And sang their same old Whatif song:
Whatif I’m dumb in school?
Whatif they’ve closed the swimming pol?
Whatif I get beat up?
Whatif there’s poison in my cup?
Whatif I start to cry?
Whatif I get sick and die?
Whatif I flunk that test?
Whatif green hair grows on my chest?
Whatif nobody likes me?
Whatif a bolt of lightning strikes me?
Whatif I don’t grow talle?
Whatif my head starts getting smaller?
Whatif the fish won’t bite?
Whatif the wind tears up my kite?
Whatif they start a war?
Whatif my parents get divorced?
Whatif the bus is late?
Whatif my teeth don’t grow in straight?
Whatif I tear my pants?
Whatif I never learn to dance?
Everything seems swell, and then
The nighttime Whatifs strike again!
In my mind, this poem —the Whatifs—is about the need for control. But we worriers need to remind ourselves that there is very little in life that is within our control; fretting about the Whatifs is counterproductive. At least, that is what I tell myself when I fall into this trap — and I do, often, fall into this trap.
I am a worrier. I know that it’s part of who I am. And while I am much better at controlling my fears and emotions than I used to be, I know that it’s a part of me. I have years of this learned behavior ingrained in me. But I work with it; I accept it; I challenge it; I do all sorts of things on a daily basis to my worry monster. It’s sometimes exhausting, but I’m getting better at it every day (for the most part).
As for my boy, I want to stop this behavior in its tracks. I need to find a way to keep his little seven-year old mind from obsessing over fears that are outside of his control. I’m honestly not sure it can be done. But dammit, I will try:
I will focus my efforts on explaining to him that worrying is a collossal waste of time.
I will point out to him all the other awesome things he can be thinking about instead, like Santa or Disney World or playing with his friends.
I will try to instill in him the idea that when things are out of his control, he needs to submit to faith.
I will continue to remind him that I have been where he is and that I know from experience these thoughts won’t get him anywhere.
I will attempt to show him the beauty of living in the now instead of in the future.
We all need a little worry in us. Worry keeps us from taking ridiculous risks. But when the worry stops us from doing simple things in life or takes over our thoughts, it’s time to take a step back and make some changes to our thought patterns.
Wish me luck!
Please vote for my blog by clicking on the banner below! And if you feel so inclined, please rate my blog while you’re there. Thanks!
If you are new, welcome! I write on all sorts of topics related to my journey towards raising a healthy family. Sometimes, I’m funny, sometimes I’m deep and sometimes I just feel like espousing nutritional advice. It’s pretty much whatever strikes my fancy that day! Have a look around.