Wednesday, March 7, 2012

I'm scared or sad, just ask my 4-year old psychologist

So, I've been committed to my writing routine for what, now, 3 months? I'm making  headway; I’ve developed a writing habit. Instead of being excited about this, though, it seems I've taken to worrying.

I worry that I should be spending my time elsewhere. I worry that my writing isn't smart enough, interesting enough. I worry it’s just plain, boring crap. I worry about whether my back up system is actually working. I worry I'm wasting my time. I worry about what happens when I actually finish the first draft.

But what is worrying, really? It's such an odd state. And, I must say, a very annoying and uncomfortable one. The fact is, it wears us out emotionally and physically, and accomplishes nothing. It can also paralyze us from moving forward with decisive, deliberate action. That's a fact. Yet, it’s really tough to kick ourselves out of worry mode once we’re in it.

I first remember experiencing worry at age 6. I vividly recall waiting for my mom to pick me up from school. And before she even had the chance to show up late, I was worrying that  she may be late and what may happen to her on her way to pick me up.

Compare this to my earliest memories, which I can trace back to 2-3 years old. I don't remember feeling worried. Yet I can remember feeling happy, sad, mad. My own special brand of logic concludes, then, that between about 2-6 years old, "worrying" doesn't really exist. At least, it didn't for me.

So I decided to check in with my 2 to 6-year-old contacts. When asked, "what does worry mean?", here is what they had to say:

"It means you're scared"
"You feel sad"
"It means you're scared"
"It means you're in trouble"
"upset or sad"

So, listening to these wise 2 to 6-year-olds, the penny dropped. Of course. The root of all my worrying can be categorized into one of two buckets: “scared” or “sad”. And, when put in those simple terms, it is much simpler to pinpoint the issue. Sure, I’m feeling a bit scared/fearful about this new thing I’m working on. I’m scared of failing.  The 2 to 6-year-olds nailed it. I am scared.

And, scared is somehow much more easy to work with. It puts me in a much better frame of mind to problem solve. I can address fears, alleviate fears, overcome fears. Worry? Not me. Not anymore. I’m going back to my 2 to 6-year old roots.

So, have you received any great advice from 2 to 6-year-olds lately?

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