Does Worrying Help Us?

Last week, I had the first call with my publicist assigned to the release of my book, Let Forgiveness Set You Free.  

It was very exciting!

A lot of what I do is on my own – there’s no team, just me. So it’s nice to have the support of a seasoned publicist. Keep in mind my book is still small potatoes for them, she’s not booking me on Good Morning America.

But I am truly grateful for any publicity and having someone guide me through this process.

After talking to the publicist I asked her to send me a digital copy of the book so I could reread it. I haven’t looked at it for six months, and when I had submitted the final changes back in March, I was so over it, I couldn’t stand looking at it anymore.

I’m told that’s quite normal.

As I was reading it, I was pleasantly surprised. I was working through some of the exercises and I thought, this is pretty good, in fact, I think it’s really going to help some people let go of a lot of pain.

And then I noticed something.

A mistake.

It wasn’t the end of the world but not great either to see it so early into the book.

I made a note of it and kept reading.

Then I noticed a big mistake in one of the exercises that made it totally confusing as to what the reader was expected to do. It was so bad that I wouldn’t be surprised if someone put the book down at that point and never looked at it again.

I also remembered very clearly pointing this out to my editor months ago.

So I went back and checked the spreadsheet I used to send in all the corrections back in March.

All the mistakes I was now seeing were on the spreadsheet, and yet in the final version, none of them had been changed.

Although I knew at this point the book was ready to print – they might even have already started, I emailed my editor.

It was 6 pm on the east coast, where she’s located, so I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to get a response that night.

So after I hit send, I sat there for a moment, trying to decide what I could do.

I could have called friends and family and complained about it.

I didn’t.

I could have relentlessly thought about how I’ll refuse to promote this book with so many errors, and how awful this is going to look for me, and worried myself sick with a million different terrifying scenarios – all ending with one-star reviews on Amazon.

I didn’t.

The reason I didn’t panic is that at this point I really didn’t know what the outcome was going to be.

First off, there could have been a perfectly reasonable explanation. Maybe the publicist sent me the wrong copy and all the changes had been made.

But even if what I was looking at was the final copy – it’s still not the end of the world.

It’s disappointing.

It’s not what I would have wanted for my first book.

But it’s not going to kill me – my life isn’t over because of this.

That doesn’t mean I’m indifferent to my work.

Or that I don’t care.

I always try to do my best, but I can’t control everyone else in the world, and what they are doing.

I’ve been down the path of trying to control that which I don’t control a million times already.

It sucks.

It makes me miserable.

And it doesn’t change anything.

The following morning when I checked my email, my editor had responded that she was looking into it and hopefully it’s not too late.

OK, they were working on it – there was still nothing I could do.

An hour later another email came in.

The publicist had sent me the wrong digital version. The team was going through it now to double-check everything but so far it’s looking as though all the corrections had taken.

There were a good 16 hours in between the first email I sent and the second email that confirmed everything was alright.

For 16 hours I could have driven myself nuts, lost sleep over it, and pushed myself over the ledge again and again with worry.

For what?

A few moments of relief after I found out all the changes had been made.

16 hours of torture for a few minutes of relief is not a good trade-off in my mind.

Of course, it doesn’t always turn out this way – but a lot of the time it really does.

Our habitual reaction is to immediately jump to the worst conclusion possible. Even when we don’t have all the facts, we’ll still indulge in various doomsday scenarios that most likely will never happen.

And yet every single time things have worked out – one way or another they always have. And maybe it’s not the most ideal outcome – but we get past it and we move on.

Life is full of uncertainty, mistakes, setbacks, challenges – moments that we thought were going to be great that turned out differently. And moments we thought were going to be awful that turned out fine.

That’s what makes life interesting – the uncertainty.

Nobody starts a book by reading the last chapter. You want to read the whole adventure – all the ups and downs to see how the hero rises to the challenge again and again.

Being the hero of your own story means you are going to be challenged, and sometimes that challenge means you just have to wait and recognize there is nothing you can do.

While endlessly worrying and fretting might feel like you’re doing something constructive – let’s recognize it for what it is.

It’s torture with zero benefits – there is absolutely no evidence to show that the amount of worrying you do has an effect on the outcome.

But there is a rational reason why, in the end, everything has worked out so far for you.

It’s not because of worrying.


It’s because you are far more resilient and adaptive than you give yourself credit for.

Trust in that!

 

 

Comments

  1. Kimberly Cooley-Reyes

    Wise words! Meditation has helped me greatly in this area. Letting Life unfold. Thank you, Meredith.

    • zensmarts

      You’re welcome, Kimberly! It is absolutely our meditation practice that helps us learn this lesson. Proving once again that sitting in meditation is what takes these teachings from an intellectual understanding down into a place of knowing! I’m so grateful for this practice! ❤️

  2. Doreen Bryant

    This is a lesson I learn over and over again. Ninety nine percent of the things we worry about never happen. And if it does you will need your energy to deal with it so don’t use it up before you need it.
    Good job Meredith.

    • zensmarts

      So true – worrying is like an energy vampire – it sucks the life out of us! For no benefit whatsoever.

    • zensmarts

      Thank you Lily! I hope you are well and that we’ll see you maybe in La Ventana this year!

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