Monday, April 15, 2013

Worry is a funny thing.

Worry is a funny thing.

Or, at least, it can be.

By no means should worry and anxiety be taken lightly or disregarded with humor.  (That is not what I mean when I say “funny”.)  My point is that I believe humor can be a healing remedy for those suffering with unwanted worry and anxious feelings.

When I am fretting, I sometimes use a helpful coping skill called the “worst-case scenario” method.  How it works is you have to think about your worst fears and play out the worst-case scenario in your head.  At first, I was definitely hesitant about allowing my imagination to run wild about all the horrible things that could happen.  But after trying it a few times, I quickly realized how much humor came from this little exercise.


Me: I have a lot of anxiety right now.
Husband: What’s on your mind?
M: I am worried.
H: What are you worried about?
M: I don’t know.
H: Just worried?
M: Maybe…
H: …
M: …
H: …
M: OK, so I am worried that I have stomach cancer and I am going to have to have an operation and, during surgery, the doctors are going to mess up and they are going to have to take out my uterus and then we won’t be able to have children and because of the stress of the medical bills and not being able to have kids, we will argue and, eventually, grow apart and then we will end up separating and I’ll leave the church and we’ll both be miserable and end up in Hell.
H: …
M: (Short pause then giggles)
H: (Eyes bugging out of his head)
M: …OK, so I got a little carried away.
H: (furrowed brow)
M: (Laughter)
H: (smiling) Wow, I was just thinking about who the Red’s will have for their starting pitcher tonight.

Funny, right?

Sometimes when we talk about our worst fears, they cease to be scary and actually end up being quite funny.

Other times, I play out the “worst-case scenario” in my head or I tell it to someone and it ends up not being that bad anyway.  Like, for example, sometimes I am worried that I will never be able to run again.  If I can’t run, then I will just swim.  See?  Not that bad.

Another example is I am sometimes concerned about money.  If we run out of money and there is no one to take us in and my husband and I starve to death, then we will go to Heaven.  See?  Not that bad.  Or maybe, that one falls in the humor category…

“My smoothie is a more red than purple today.  I don’t remember looking at the frozen blueberries when I put them in the blender.  What if there was someone’s finger in the bag, and I am really eating blood?!?”  …What the heck!  Seriously, Brain…where do you come up with this stuff?  I should write plots for horror movies.  Just recalling my ridiculous thoughts and writing them down here makes me shake my head and laugh.

Before I got help for my anxiety and depression, I thought it was best to stay away from thinking about the worst-case scenarios.  So I avoided going there.  However, ignoring my fears didn’t make them go away; it made them worse.  The thoughts and fears built strength and power inside my head and threatened to take over my life.  Since it didn’t work to ignore them, I allowed the fears to have some room.  In the “worst-case scenario” process, I have realized that by confronting the fears, ironically, I can get over them faster.  Approaching your fears in a realistic manner can be a helpful tool for staying calm.

It can also be good to have a “worst-case” friend.  Calling up a trusted friend when needed and talking about your worst fears is actually pretty fun.  If you try it, I promise you will have never laughed so hard in your life.  It helps to have another person laugh at your fears; it puts things into perspective and confirms the ridiculousness.

Challenge of the Day:  Call up a good friend and ask them if they want to be your “worst-case scenario” friend (mine is Craig).  Explain your worst fears and feel how much your anxiety is lifted.  Then let your friend have a turn.  Everyone has a worst-case scenario fear so matter how laid back they appear.  If you implement this practice, I promise you will begin to enjoy a more nourishing life.

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