Worrying Won’t Fix the Furnace

I come from a long line of worriers. Generation after generation fretting about what might happen. Afraid of how terrible it will be when that inevitable ‘bad’ thing shows up

I call it future tripping.

Those of you who know me well know I have played the victim once or twice (or alot) in my life. I often thought “bad things happened TO me. It was just my luck. There was nothing I could do.” But that wasn’t the truth at all.

The truth is, consciously or unconsciously, I was choosing those things.

Here’s an example. A couple weeks ago my Monday got off to a rocky start. I report to my home office for work at 6am. I am not a morning person. My boss is usually raring to go on Monday. She likes to “hit the ground running.” I have never in my life hit the ground running. My mother can attest to that. I felt like I’d been shot out of a cannon. So after three and a half hours straight on various phone calls for work, I needed a break.

I left the room and noticed it felt kind of cold in the hallway. I use a space heater during the day in my office so it was pretty toasty in there. I went downstairs and checked the thermostat. 56 degrees. In my house. That’s a little chilly. The thermostat is set to 60 so I knew the furnace had stopped working.

Before I even had time to think, automatic pilot kicked in. Panic! Oh my god! What am I going to do? Who will I get to fix this? How will I pay for it? It was a complete and utter ‘Chicken Little, the sky is falling’ moment. For those of you who tend to panic and fear the worst, you know what I mean. But as that familiar feeling started to set in, I heard another voice in my head. (Yes, I hear voices. Don’t judge me.) The voice said, “What if you just didn’t worry about this?”

That stopped me dead in my tracks. Because up to that point, worrying did not feel like a choice. But all of a sudden, in that moment, it was. Worry or don’t worry. Either way the furnace isn’t working.

So I just decided to stop worrying.

I was surprised by how relaxed I felt. When you don’t worry, you’re not all stressed out about something you cannot control. I checked the fuse box, took the cover off the front of the furnace and peered around. Nothing obvious jumped out at me so I put the cover back on and walked away. I had some errands to run so I just left the furnace behind.

I enjoyed being away from my office. I took my time and didn’t allow myself to rush. I stopped at the grocery store in the middle of the day. I didn’t worry.

When I got back home and walked in my house, I was surprised by how warm it felt. I checked the thermostat. 60 degrees. The furnace was working again. Without any help from me.

I wish I could say that was the end of my worrying. That I’d learned my lesson. That my fear was gone forever! But I think we all know it doesn’t work that way. My automatic reaction is still fear most of the time. It will take some time to retrain my brain. But now I catch myself. I stop the panic train before it goes tearing out of the station. I breath.

And then I can choose…worry or not. It’s really up to me.

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