Curiosity Killed the Cat, Worry Kills the Family
“Curiosity killed the cat” but worry kills the family. I know that sounds kind of extreme, but worry really does interfere with family intimacy. Worry becomes a quiet, unseen but powerful rip current that pulls families apart…or a whirlpool of twisting, turning, dizzying emotions that hurl a family into discord and confusion. Consider these ways that excessive worry can kill the family.
· Worry in one family member limits the opportunities for all family members. When one person in the family is filled with worry, they can interfere with other family members’ exploration of the world around them. Exploration is crucial for healthy child development. Family exploration aids in building intimacy. Worry hinders exploration. It prevents family members from trying new things. Worry can even create fear in younger family members (children) who may believe, “If my Mom or Dad worries about this, it must be really bad.” Worry that prevents healthy exploration will lead to family members who doubt their own abilities, family members who lack the confidence to tackle life problems that arise. Excessive worry blocks a family’s growth and development.
· Worry also creates distance between family members. Specifically, a person who worries will get so caught up in their own worries that they will find themselves unable to focus on other family members’ interests and concerns. Our mind can only handle so much information at a time and worry will consume all our mental space. Worry will drain our emotional energy, leaving us emotionally depleted and unable to connect with other family members. A family of worry becomes disconnected.
· Worry increases family stress. It robs families of peace and joy. When someone in the family becomes obsessed with worry, everyone suffers. Everyone becomes concerned about keeping the worrier from becoming anxious or agitated. In order to avoid the stress of one person’s excessive worry, everyone “walk on egg shells.” Celebration gets lost in the fear of annoying the worrier and arousing his rage. Peace and joy succumb to confusion and constant vigilance. A family filled with worry is a family without celebration.
· Worry increases conflict within the family. Increased family stress caused by worry will lead to more agitation, stress, and arguing. Children will “rebel” against the worrier in an effort to explore the world around them, try new things, and learn about themselves. Some family members will attempt to argue with the worrier to decrease their worry. This will not work. It will only increase the conflict. Other family members may become agitated with the constant barrage of worry and negative comments. They may feel as though the worrier doubts their ability and, in response, they will become defensive, leading to more conflict. Yes, worry will travel many paths, but they all lead to greater conflict.
· Worry can also shorten your time with the family. Family members may begin to avoid the worrier just because of the stress the worry creates. In addition, excessive worry increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, heart attack, and stroke over the long run. Worry can shorten your life and lead to an early death. If you want to live a long and happy life with your family, don’t worry, be happy.
Worry hurls a family into confusion, drowns them in chaos, and ultimately brings family celebration to an untimely death. So, if you are a worrier…in the words of Bob Newhart, “Stop it!” If that seems too difficult (and if you are honest, it probably does) check out next week’s blog to learn several ways of putting your worries to rest and replacing them with peace and joy. Doing so will add years of joy to your family life!