I don't consciously worry. I don't try to find things to become anxious about, or analyze my life until I can find something worthy of worry. It just happens. It's either become a perfectionist habit, or it's deeply ingrained in my DNA (thanks, Mama!), or a combination of both.
I realize that everyone has stress and anxiety and tension in their lives in one way or another. Unfortunately, my particular brand of worry has a tendency to become obsessive, to invade my dreams, to really consume my thoughts. But in a way, I actually have come to believe that some of this obsessive worrying has led me to success, greater success than I would have had without it.
Photo taken by my Dad at my senior recital at Notre Dame.
For example, when I was preparing for each of my (4 in total) solo student recitals in undergrad and grad school, I turned into a particularly neurotic worrier. I really don't enjoy the spotlight of performing, I become incredibly nervous before concerts, and getting up on stage to play--even though I've done it dozens of times--is very difficult for me. So I worried and worried. And oddly enough, in part because of this fear and anxiety, I made sure I was 110% prepared for each of those recitals. I anticipated every mistake, every memory loss, every missed note, and I practiced and polished and perfected my pieces, and I worked on centering my nerves and visualizing a good outcome and staying inward and focused. Concentrating on the beauty of the music, the real reason I am a pianist, was another way I prepared. (If I was playing Bach, I would repeat a mantra like "Beautiful Bach" while slowly deep breathing. It reminded me of why I was going through this stress--for the sake of the music.) My recitals weren't perfect, but each one of them went very well, and occasionally I even played better than I ever had in lessons or the practice room. I was able to perform at a high level despite my nerves in large part due to the worry which prompted me to prepare, and prepare some more.
I do need to work on this worry problem. It's not healthy to constantly be stressed, and I think prayer and meditation are probably the best ways for me to become a more relaxed person. But I think it's helpful to remember that worry does have a place in certain circumstances. Perhaps the rule is that we shouldn't worry about things out of our control, but when it comes to things in our control, we should try to channel the worry into something positive and productive.
What do you think?