Do you find yourself borrowing trouble? Ginny Kochis details four ways to borrow hope instead.
Several years ago, my sister discovered the app to end all apps It’s called Life360, and my mom, sister, and I cling to it like a ring buoy on a storm-tossed sea.
Referred to as Spy360 by the begrudging yet app-wielding men in our lives, the app allows users to create family circles, connect profiles, and then track (see also: spy on) family members’ movements.
The men in our family think this is ridiculous because they don’t share our frame of reference. They don’t come from a long line of anxious, imaginative, perseveration-prone ancestors, quite unlike the women they have pledged to love.
You see, my mom, sister, and I tend to borrow worry. We are bright, creative, stubborn, and faithful to Jesus and the Church. But plan the tiniest seed of calamity, the mere whisper of tragic occurrence, and the three of us are off like a proverbial shot.
(Not all at the same time, fortunately, but I’ll get to that in a bit).
In the interest of incriminating only myself further, I will from this point forward drop the other two lovely ladies from the narrative and say that I am, without a doubt, a professional borrower of worry.
My brain craves worry. Feeds off of it. And unless I’m perseverating on a task or an idea and pursuing that concept to its logical end, my brain seeks out worry in order to fill the empty spaces.
What if we have a perimenopausal pregnancy and find out I’m carrying twins?
What if my exceptional kids can’t function in the real world? What if they can’t hold a job? What if they leave the Church?
What if my writing fizzles out and we can’t pay our bills and we lose the house and end up living in my sister’s basement eating raw Pop-Tarts by the light of a 1980s-era camp stove?
What if, what if, what if?
I could go on -- about the international crisis when my husband’s five minutes late from his store run, or the all-clear diagnostic mammogram that might have been wrong because these things happen, don’t they? And what about the conversation I had last week with my sister’s best friend’s cousin where she mentioned that mom she knew whose husband died of a heart attack at the age of 45 and nobody had any warning?
Dan was a little out of breath after bringing up the laundry. Should I go ahead and call the ambulance now?
The things I panic about are possible. They are scary and terrifying and genuinely panic-inducing. But for borrowers of worry like me (like you?), they are the tip of an ugly iceberg, of obsessive thoughts and racing hearts; of high blood pressure and sleepless nights.
It doesn’t even matter that deep down, you know it’s irrational, that the statistical probability for these potential disasters is, in fact, rather small. Borrowing worry becomes the default mode of operations; a continual slide down a slippery slope.
Borrowing hope, on the other hand …
Looking for the good, the true, the beautiful?
Borrowing hope requires a sustained, herculean effort.
You need a mechanism, a lifeline, a strategy engineered to pull you from the pit of desolation (also known as Panicsville).
Stop Borrowing Worry. Here’s How to Borrow Hope.
Remember that ultimately, God is in control.
No matter how many scenarios you can possibly generate, there is still one answer to every single one:
God is good. He is there and He is with you and He is always going to watch over you, especially when the going gets tough.
(Okay, I know it’s simplistic, and it walks that fault line -- the one where people tell you if you just have faith, it’s enough. Faith is enough, but in many cases, the conditioned center of your brain has to be ready to cling to it. That’s why you need the tips after this one: it’s easiest to hear the music when you cut out the static and noise.)
Build your support network:
So that bit about the women in my family taking worry-borrowing turns? It’s handy, because all it takes is a text sent over the network:
I think I have nose cancer.
Dan’s 20 minutes late.
Child X has a strange rash and Dr. Google says he’s dying.
And without fail, the cavalry arrives.
Somedays we simply recite the contrary (no, that’s not cancer. It’s a zit.). Other days, we consult Dr. Google on behalf of the worried party (WebMD suggests it’s X diagnosis. Why don’t you put hydrocortisone on it and see if that helps?). And on still other days, we hop in the car and drive to where one of us is sitting and hold hands and offer physical support. Because having a person who gets you, who gets your propensity for worry, means you’ve got a friend on the belay line who holds you steady while you climb down.
Find your exit strategy
Do facts and statistics soothe you? Are you less likely to perseverate if you’re well-rested, well-hydrated, or well-fed? Do you need five minutes in the closet to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet or recite a decade of the Rosary? Figure out what calms you and practice it, then turn to that mechanism when borrowed worry takes hold. (NB: this is one of the reasons why my mom, sister, and I use the location tracking app. It’s a concrete way for us to let go of worry when we don’t know where loved ones are.)
See a therapist
Especially if your quality of life has been impacted and you aren’t getting better trying the above. It could be a situation where medication is warranted, or it could be a matter of a few sessions of talk therapy. Either way, you don’t have to shoulder this alone.
What if …
You see borrowing worry as a form of desolation.
You lean heavily on the people you love.
You build an arsenal of defense capable of stilling the spiral before it gets started.
What if, instead of borrowing worry, you are able to borrow hope?
Copyright 2020 Ginny Kochis
Image: Pixabay (2017)