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Worrying: A Generational Legacy

Updated: Jul 17, 2023

In every family, certain traits are passed down from generation to generation. Some families have a knack for musical talents, while others excel in athleticism. However, in my family, we have inherited a unique ability—the art of worrying. It's a skill that has been expertly mastered by my mother, and she proudly claims that no matter how old her children get, the worrying never stops.

Let’s explore the nature of worrying, its impact on our lives, and 3 ways you can cope with the complex emotions that come with being a part of a lineage of worriers.

The Worrying Gene: A Family Affair

From an early age, I became aware that worrying was deeply ingrained in my family's DNA. My mother's endless concerns for our well-being were a constant reminder of her love and devotion. Whether it was fretting about our school performance, health, or general safety, she seemed to have an uncanny ability to anticipate every possible negative outcome.

Children Forever

As my sister and I grew older, my mother's worries evolved, but they never ceased. She often reminds us to this day that no matter how independent or successful we become, we will always be her children, and she will always worry. It's a sentiment that resonates with many parents (being one myself). The act of worrying can be seen as a testament to the depth of parental love and the intrinsic desire to shield our loved ones from harm.

The Weight of Worrying: Emotional Roller Coaster

Worrying is a complex emotional experience. It can be both a source of comfort and a burden, as it oscillates between genuine concern and irrational fear. The weight of worrying often takes a toll on the worrier themselves, creating a constant state of anxiety and restlessness. For my mother, each sleepless night spent worrying about us came at the expense of her own peace of mind. It's a delicate balance between caring deeply for others and finding a way to maintain personal well-being. It breaks my heart to see her continue to struggle.

Coping with Worry: Finding a Middle Ground

Open communication, reassurance, and empathy are vital tools in alleviating the anxieties that come with worrying. As children, we learned to provide regular updates on our lives, share our triumphs and challenges, and acknowledge the love and concern behind our mother's worrying. By bridging the gap between understanding and action, we aimed to ease her anxieties while still respecting her worries as a reflection of her deep affection.

While my mother's worry and my own personal worrying is laced with good intentions I now see how damaging and harmful it is for both the person worrying and the one receiving the worry.

The activity of worrying, especially within a family lineage, is a complex and deeply rooted part of our lives – this is why it isn’t helpful to merely say to someone, “Don’t worry,” or, “Just relax.” Without the right tools, these appeals aren’t helpful when you’re caught in the middle of worry.

Mindfulness Tools to Help Ease Worry

Luckily, research-backed practices such as mindfulness can help bring ease and retrain the brain to pause before sliding down a stream of ruminating, anxious thoughts. As a Life + Energy Coach, Yoga Teacher, and Wellness Leader, I’ve been studying and practicing the power of mindfulness for decades. Here are 5 foundational mindfulness tips to help you (and if you’d like dedicated support check out my Personalized 1:1 Coaching Services):

1. Honor Your Feelings Without Judgment. Like I mentioned, it doesn’t help when someone tells you,

“Don’t worry. Be happy.” You have to meet yourself where you are. Interestingly, when you can honor and name what you’re feeling in the moment, this helps create spaciousness and softness around those feelings and repetitive thoughts. This is practice noticing what emotions and thoughts emerge, without judging yourself or creating further narratives.

2. Tune Into Your Body. How does your body feel in the moment of worry?

Usually there’s a physical sensation associated with worry. For most of us it's a rumbling or tingling in the belly (where one third of our nervous system is). For others their shoulders will crunch up around their neck, their jaw will clench, or their palms will perspire. When you can observe what sensations arise in connection with your worry habit, you are accomplishing two things: 1, you’re shifting your attention away from the thoughts that are generating worry, and 2, you’re creating space by tuning into the somatics of the moment.

3. Focus on Your Breath, Especially Your Exhalations. There’s a reason why we sigh when we’re stressed or

overwhelmed: the exhalation can help activate your parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the relaxation response. When you practice deep breathing, even for just a few minutes every day, it can become easier to breathe deeply in moments of worry, which can help you shift into a state of ease.

Want to practice the art of being present and cultivating self love? Check out my FREE 11-minute Guided Meditation for Self Love.



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