My Interview with Worry

Worry, one of the Malcontents

Yes, starting this, I am worried if I’ll say this right. Ah well, I’ll just write it.

Today I learned some more about another one of the Malcontents, “Worry”. This guy is always worrying about everything. Right now he’s worrying if that last sentence was phrased correctly. Or if this writing style I’m writing in right now will be good enough to present to people, or if it will be rejected.

The most important thing I found out about him was that he¬†disliked uncertainty. Actually, I’m worried that my discoveries about him wouldn’t be as well received in this form, so let me do a numbered list (of the things I learned about worry):

  1. He dislikes uncertainty. He knows what it’s like to feel certain about something only to have it instantly crumble to bits. He’s worried about that kind of stuff.
  2. His role in the Malcontents is to alert the others to things they need to pay attention to. If Worry is getting so worked up about something, there might be something to it. Suspicion takes a keen interest in Worry’s worries.
  3. He wants to make sure others within me don’t get too certain about stuff ever, because then they might not pay attention to something that might fall apart at any moment. So he invites the very thing he doesn’t like.

I have begun to see a pattern. All of the malcontents seem to dislike something that’s a part of life, and through their dislike seek to avoid it. Stubborn Pride dislikes tragedy; Paranoia, death; Suspicion, immorality. Haven’t talked to Depression yet, but I have my suspicions on what I’ll find.

What makes me sad about this is that even though it’s obvious that the way these parts of myself work can be destructive, negative, over the top and fearful, I can’t help but agree with them – I don’t want tragedy, death, immorality, or uncertainty (at least not constant uncertainty) either. I feel as though I could try to give this side of me hell, to fight them with all of my being, but… it would just sneak back into me. After all, if I fight them fearing what they will do, that’s also a dislike for something. So, the “Inner explorer” in me, which is what I’m writing from now, will do nothing but gather more information, for now.

Is this the right thing? Will I look bad for posting such a conclusion? Perhaps.¬†(There’s the worry talking.) But I feel like for now I will balance out that fearful side of myself with all of the strong, adventurous, fun-loving, courageous sides of me. And if any side of me harms any other side, I can respond, and if I can see it,¬†I always will. That much I can do.

But, sorry, I’m talking too much about my own thoughts and conclusions. What’s something practical in this experience? I don’t know. I would recommend everyone get a sense of how this side of themselves operates. Why does your “worry” does what it does? What about the other malcontent, dissatisfied parts of you? Get a sense of what they’re doing too, so that when they do something damaging, you can stop them, question them, and force them back. Fear and practicality is not all there is to life, after all, no matter how good those ideas are at getting things done. Maybe some things aren’t worth being done.

Desperation for Certainty

There is a power inside of you that wants to achieve ultimate certainty about everything, in such a way that it will get angry at any evidence that might run counter to its predictions and expectations. This is why if something you thought would take a short time actually takes a long time, you get angry. Watch out though, this force inside you doesn’t really care if the info is false or not – he wants knowledge purely for the feeling of power that it gives. Make sure you question yourself or it might rampage into your actions, causing you to do harmful things to yourself and others, proudly.

And if you get scared at this prospect, don’t worry. Your desperation is not bigger than your capacity to handle the truth and adjust your actions accordingly.

Quick Exercise: Relief from Uncertainty

I decided to add this to help anyone struggling with uncertainty right in this moment. Hopefully this will resolve the panic that can often come at times like this.

  1. Take out a piece of paper or open a document. Write at the top “Things I’m uncertain of”
  2. Write a list of all the things you’re uncertain of, until you feel they’re all out.
  3. Look over your list and recognize that many, if not all, of these you might not be able to be certain of until they happen. Also notice that if you were certain about these things, it might bring a lot of relief. A sense of direction. This puts you in a pretty bad situation, huh.
  4. Now, for each item in the list, write what you would do¬†if the worst case scenario happened. Try to put yourself in the situation and really imagine it. Don’t worry, it hasn’t happened yet, you’re just imagining it. You’re preparing for the worst.
  5. Keep adding things to either list until you feel a sense of stability again. If you’re still having trouble, ask yourself WHY, and write down the answer. Keep asking yourself “why?” until you feel that stability, and the desperation relaxes.

Further Reading

Mark Ivar Myhre has a great e-book and set of meditations called “How to Reduce Fear, Escape Anxiety, and End Panic” – if you’re having trouble with any of these, check it out.

Related Articles

The Utility and Fun of Not Knowing
Overcome Fear of Repeating your Mistakes
Find your Curiosity and Move Past Failure
My Interview with Worry
Fear List
Becoming at Peace with Your Own Path

If you want a general method for relief during times of intensity, check out the Expressive way to relieve it