Hola and a very merry Friday to you, you lovely thing. I hope that your week has been productive, enjoyable and unusually amusing.
Today I would like to have a chat about worrying, and specifically worrying about someone you love. It’s completely acceptable to worry about someone, because it means that you quite like them and want them to be alright. Similarly, it’s usually quite touching to be told that someone else is worried about you, because it means that they’re thinking about you and wishing you the best.
So worrying comes from a good place, but what is it good for? (“Absolutely nothin’, say it again y’all!” Etc.) Worrying about a loved one doesn’t actually fix their problems, and it’s not going to do you a huge amount of good, either. Unfortunately, nobody has handed you a magic wand/fairy dust/a time machine with which to fix your loved one’s troubles. So you feel a bit rubbish and you’re also aware that that feeling isn’t doing any actual good. This is decidedly not cool.
The way to deal with worry is to act upon it. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not suggesting that we follow people around saying “are you ok? Are you sure you’re ok? What’s the matter? You look annoyed. Are you annoyed? I’M WORRIED ABOUT YOU” ad infinitum. That is definitely not the answer, for obvious reasons. However, I think we can agree that we need practical ways to deal with our worry:
1) Say something
Tell the person that you’re worried about them. Not to make them feel more stressed or guilty for upsetting you, but to reassure them that someone (i.e. you, you super star) is thinking about them.
2) Say something to someone else
If the person you’re worried about has confided in you, obviously don’t go blathering their secrets around your social circle. But if you have a mutual friend or family member who will understand how you feel (and may already feel the same way), share the load. For example: I have four siblings, and if I’m worried about one of them I automatically rally the other three. There’s a lot to be said for strength in numbers.
3) Say something helpful
Offer your support. Make sure that your friend/loved one knows that you are willing and able to help them if they need you.
4) Really mean it
Only offer support that you know you can give. You may not be able to fix their entire life, but offering someone a shoulder to cry on or a good distraction from their woes is still very valuable.
5) Really mean it and prepare for it
Stocking up for emotional emergencies is a lot more fun than panic-buying for the end of the world. For example, I have a secret stash of nice things – chocolate, fancy coffee, etc. – just in case one of my friends comes round and needs cheering up. On a slightly more serious/less sugar-based note, if someone you care about is going for a scary hospital appointment, for example, clear your schedule for that day as much as possible. They may claim to be ok, but they might change their mind at the last minute and need you to go with them.
6) Really mean it and prepare for it and then do it
If there is anything that you can actually physically do to help, do it. If you’ve offered help to someone and they’ve taken you up on it, that demonstrates a huge amount of trust on their part. Respect their trust and don’t push them to do/say things they’re not ready for. Worrying is hard, but being worried about is also a big deal.
7) Let them get on with it
If you’ve said all you can say and done all that you can do, your only course of action is to sit back and let them work through whatever’s happening. You can’t force someone to confide in you, call you when they’re sad or turn to you when they’re scared – some people prefer to do these things alone, and we have to respect that. But if you’ve made it clear where you stand (i.e. right beside them whenever they need you), then you have already acted upon your worry as much as you can.
One last thing: I completely understand that being told not to worry is a bit annoying, because we don’t have much of a choice in the matter. But just as your words and actions come from a well-meaning place, so do the intentions of the person who says “don’t worry about it”. They just don’t like to see you wandering around looking as stressed out as the goldfish at the top of this post. Poor, worried goldfish.
Have a glorious weekend.