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When to Stop Worrying

When to Stop Worrying

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Over the years some of my friends (you know who you are) have gently teased me for my self-help book obsession.  If a problem arises they might make a pointed comment about my ever growing library and ask which author might provide the answer this time.


And it’s true.  I love self-help books.  Not always because I feel I need help in any particular area, but I suppose I am looking for a way to be more content with my life, to appreciate what I have and not spend time obsessing or worrying about the future and what it might bring.  To live in the here and now or, using the 21st century buzz term, be mindful.


Such reading is also a way of reassuring yourself that you’re not the only person to feel or act the way you do sometimes and that in itself can be a great comfort.  To have your thoughts and feelings validated makes you feel that you’re not being silly, you’re not weird (ok – not that weird) and that, crucially, that you are not alone.


The problem I have found though, is that while it can make perfect sense while you’re immersed in the book of choice – especially if you make notes as you go along (what?  That’s not weird – is it?), once you’ve finished it can be really difficult to stick to the ideas you’ve been reading about.  And then one thing leads to another and before you know it you’ve bought another book, or subscribed to another course promising life fulfilment – and so the cycle continues.


But now, I truly believe I have found the answer.  And it didn’t come from a book.


It came from a mother whose two sons died on the same night. 


A woman who has been through the most unthinkable tragedy has honestly taught me what appreciating life is all about.  A woman who told me that she used to spend her life worrying and stressing about everything, the way we all do.  And above all of course, she worried about her boys.


But her boys aren’t here now.  So there’s nothing to worry about is there?


That sentence has had more of an effect on me than anything I have ever read.  This mother has been through the worst experience I can imagine.  And she is still here.  She is still choosing to live – but she is choosing to live on different terms.  She does not want to be defined by her grief, despite the days when it is still impossibly overwhelming.  She does not want to block out the memories of her sons as little boys who played together, who fought sometimes and who, as they grew up, became very protective of their mum.  She talks about them, celebrates their birthdays and Christmas.   Father’s Day.  Mother’s day.  None of them ignored. 


But above all she is living proof that even when the worst happens –  life will go on. 



This mother has, possibly for the first time, put my whole life in perspective.  I’m sure she would give anything to have the worries and stresses I focus on every day just to spend one more day with her boys.  And while I’m not going to regret the time I have wasted on worrying instead of just doing what needs to be done, I am for the first time truly motivated to live for the here and now.