If not now, when? (A reflection on anxiety and choice).

My family moved into a new house in March 2023. With an expanding family and my wife and I both working from home, we needed more space. 

Part of the change was going from 1 bathroom to 3. While this has been great for everyone, something I didn’t plan on was the immediately needed maintenance.
Within the first 7 months of being in the house, I:

  1. Replaced a toilet.
  2. Replaced the innards of the second toilet.
  3. Replaced the wax seal on the third.

I’m a handy person, so I felt pretty comfortable doing it, but there’s always an anxiety in the back of my mind that I messed something up. The fear is that I made some unknown mistake and that mistake will cost us a lot of money to have fixed by a professional.

I was recently using the bathroom near my office. I realized that every time I sit down, I am still anxious that I did something wrong that will cause it to leak. I’m always vigilant about looking for leaks in the house that could have been caused by that toilet and my “shoddy” work.

But here’s the thing.

I did that work in April. It’s now December. The toilet has not leaked. It is not going to.

In short: I did the work right but I still worry that I did it wrong.

If we look at this objectively, it’s ridiculous. The work is good. But I still worry. 

Today I had a realization.

I can choose to not worry. My worry is simply anxiety. It’s anxiety that something will go wrong and cost me something I care about a lot – money. 

But I believe that we can choose to not be anxious.

First, though, we must become aware of our anxiety. I have found a meditation practice to be useful here.

Once we recognize anxiety for what it is, we can then choose to not be anxious. 

I can’t control that I can be anxious. But I can choose, today, to not be anxious when I recognize that I am being anxious. 

Anxiety is dread of something maybe going wrong in the future. It’s fear. That’s it. 

We can choose to not be afraid. Today. And tonight. And tomorrow.