“I’ve had a lot of problems in my life, and most of them never happened.” That’s one of my favorite quotes from a novel by Herman Wouk, “War and Remembrance”. The point of this is that we all worry about things, but most of what we worry about never come to pass. And even if they do, there is always a way to deal with it, one way or another.
I’m particularly bad about worrying. Most of the things I worry about are totally out of my control, and end up taking energy that I really shouldn’t be wasting.
I worry about my job. The fact is however that I’m doing all I can to do a good job, and if there just isn’t enough work, or if I’m not performing up to expectations, or if the boss just doesn’t like me for some reason, I know I’m doing the best I can and if I end up losing this job I know I can survive until I find another one.
I worry about what others think about me. Like more or less everyone, I want to be liked. I have a tendency to bend over backwards with friends and coworkers, and keep from sharing too much or saying anything that could drive them away. The problem with this is that, while I might be honest with myself, I’m not being 100% honest with others. It really shouldn’t matter what others think. In spite of how hard I try, I can never be all things to all people. I need to remember that I have value and there will always be those to see it.
I worry I am going to offend someone. That’s kind of an extension of what others think about me, but it goes deeper than that. I try to respect everyone else’s opinions and beliefs, and work very hard not to step on anyone’s toes. Of course it’s never a bad thing to give respect, but it’s nothing to worry about. You do the best you can, and if someone get’s offended, it’s their problem.
I worry about making mistakes. It’s totally impossible not to, but I am overly cautious and can over think decisions and actions. But mistakes are going to happen regardless. If you are going to try at all to succeed, decisions have to be made and actions have to be taken. Put your best effort in and learn from those that do happen.
I worry about making and keeping friends. Friends are very important, and I put a lot of effort into my friendships. I almost always go along with their plans, I try to support them when they’re having issues, I make sure I do things for them above and beyond what they might expect. And I overlook any foibles, shortcomings or mistreatment to my own detriment. Friendships are important and do require effort to keep them healthy. But I must be true to myself. If they can’t accept me for who I am, then they really aren’t much of a friend.
I worry about relationships. I haven’t had a lot of success with those I’ve had in the past, and I worry about making good choices for the future. And I worry about losing relationships I already have. But, like many other things, I do believe that if it’s supposed to work out, it will. And if a it’s not supposed to work out, forcing it forward just opens up for a more painful failure. Take things as they are, enjoy the moments and accept the path it’s going to take.
Being bipolar just makes it that much harder not to worry excessively. What happens if I have another manic episode, and how bad will the fallout be? Can another depression be avoided? Are the medications really working, and will I remember how important it is to keep taking them? Will others be able to accept my illness? Can I accept my illness? All valid points, but with diligence and planning, it can be managed. Being conscious is good, worrying isn’t.
There is always going to be something to worry about. And it’s good to be aware of potential problems and have some kind of plan ready so I’m not caught completely off guard and make bad knee jerk reactions. But I’ve lived through bad decisions, mistakes and just unavoidable circumstances and am still up and kicking. I don’t believe in bad luck, and do believe that I’m in control of my own destiny. I cannot control what happens to me, but I can control how I deal with it. I believe everything happens for a reason, even if I can’t see it or understand why. I have to learn to trust in myself and God. I need to remember and believe the serenity prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Because, when it’s all said and done, there’s really nothing to worry about. It’s all going to be okay.