I received some wisdom from my spouse recently and I think she coined a word in the process! I was fretting about a scenario unlikely to happen, or possible but in the distant future, and outside of my control. She graciously, sweetly, and hilariously said to me, “Don’t worry about the unworriable.” That should be a word and her advice was sage!
It also triggered a soundtrack of a couple songs I’ve heard over the years that reference worrying, one of which goes:
I’m so tired of being tired
Sure as night will follow day
Most things I worry about
Never happen anyway
– Tom Petty
I am a top-notch worrier! I’m just speaking from personal experience here and don’t claim to be an expert on how to handle worry; this is simply my story. Somehow, the way I am wired, predisposes me to over-thinking, over-analysis, and over-worrying. I worry about things that are within my influence and control as well as things that are completely outside of my influence/control. I actually feel OK about some amount of healthy worry, if you will, when it comes to things within my influence/control; I consider it a reflection of caring, trying to make a situation or actual experience better, so long as I don’t overdo it.
The one that bothers me most is worrying about stuff outside of my control. Despite any illusions I may have to the contrary, much of human experience is outside of my control. If I were to spend time worrying about all of that which is uncontrollable, all possible variables, all that could happen, that’s all I would do! So, when I was wondering and worrying about a future possibility that I have no control over, my spouse rightly pointed out that I was “worrying about the unworriable”. Now if anyone can worry about the unworriable, it is me, but this new word has turned out to be a powerful tool for me. It’s given me a way to notice when I am stuck in future-oriented thinking, scenarios outside of my control, and associated worry. And that reminded me of another great song lyric that I remember from when I was a kid:
In your life expect some trouble
When you worry you make it double
I really like this lyric because it simply points that it is OK to expect/accept that there will be future challenges and suffering in life, things we can’t predict, and things we may have no control over. And that’s OK. Accept it versus also doubling down on it and suffering now in worry. In other words, don’t worry about the unworriable!