Are You a Flutterbudget?

Do your thoughts keep you up at night? When you get a message from your boss to come talk, do you wonder if you did something wrong?

Do you spend more time thinking about what could go wrong than what could go right?

You might be a Flutterbudget.

Flutterbudgets are people from the land of Oz, in The Emerald City of Oz, whose worries and worst case scenario thinking have become so bad they are sent to their own village.  As the Wizard of Oz describes them, "Foolish fears, and worries over nothing, with a mixture of nerves and ifs, will soon make a Flutterbudget of anyone."

My son is quite the Flutterbudget.  He makes up worst case scenarios in his head.  He might yell in anticipation of something he thinks might happen, that in fact was never likely to happen.

Of course, it's easy to see these things in our kids.  Excitable traits are at their purest form in childhood.

But when I take a good look at myself, I can see that I too have my Flutterbudget moments.  After some difficult e-mail conversations I had a few years ago, any message with the slightest bit of criticism can send me worrying every time I get a message for weeks.  I've always had a good track record at work, but still if one of my bosses asks to speak to me in person, I almost always wonder if I did something wrong.

Even good things can become preoccupations if I spend so much time thinking about it that it keeps me up at night.

Some things that have helped me when I slip into Flutterbudget mode:

  • Mindfulness - Flutterbudgets are all about the "what ifs," which is all about the anticipation of the future.  Bringing myself back to the present moment keeps the "what ifs" at bay.
  • Guided meditations - When my mind is going a mile a minute and I am having difficulty bringing it back to the present, I find guided meditations to be very helpful.  It gives me something to listen to and focus on other than my swirling thoughts.
  • Laughter - Sometimes when I really think about my worst case scenario thinking, I can see how ridiculous it all is and how unlikely any of my worst fears are to come to pass.
  • Reality check - It also helps me to think back on the things I've negatively anticipated and remember that even the worst things that have happened to me were usually much worse in anticipation than the actual events.  I also remember that I am quite resilient and have always bounced back - at least eventually.
  • Best case scenario - Since anticipation is usually way more painful for me than even a negative event itself, it is helpful for me to turn that anticipation positive and think about the best things that might happen instead of the worst.

We all have our Flutterbudget moments, but if we try to stay in the moment and shift our thinking, we can get back to reality and deal with things as they come.