Today Is the Tomorrow You Worried About Yesterday

I’ve had a hard week  - and now, it seems a hard weekend.  And most of what made it hard were the moments or hours of uncertainty.  The worry that can accompany these times can be exhausting – emotionally draining.  A day of worry can be more depleting than a day of work.

When I worry, I am prevented from focusing my attention and energy on the present, on what I can do to prevent the worrisome events from coming to fruition.  But I don’t seem to be able to help it.  I am a perfectionist.  I am a Virgo.  And I like to worry.  When I take on a client engagement, I take on the pressures my client is feeling – and the pressures that, ultimately, the entire corporation is experiencing – because I feel strongly that my piece of work is a crucial part of enabling success or avoiding failure.  And usually I am right, at least to some extent.

At the end of 2008, I was part of a team of consultants retained by a new executive at a major corporation whose CFO had made a comment that the investment world took as a promise, and it was the task of my client to make the impossible thing he promised happen.  A lot at stake.  Well, I was so aware of this at the start of the project that I could hardly think.  Not productive.

As it turns out the work that my colleagues and I completed was crucial in enabling our client to do the absolutely impossible – or so it seemed that autumn day when we began.  The company succeeded in attaining $500 million in incremental revenue, and our direct client earned all kinds of acclaim and even industry awards.  Now, that was a sweet success that was potentially worth the worry.

However, was the worry helpful in achieving that end?  Probably not.  Appreciating the potential impact and the import of what we signed up to do was important.  Becoming so worried that I temporarily lost my short-term memory was not.

Over the years, I have lost hours of work and hours of sleep worrying about seemingly inevitable events that did not happen, concerned about the quality of deliverables that turned out to exceed client expectations, and feeling painfully concerned about what turned out to be misunderstandings.

As I struggled with these issues, my uncle, who is also a wise mentor to me said these poignant words, “Don’t borrow trouble,” he said, quoting a popular saying that I was not aware of.  Don’t spend today worrying about what may or may not pass.  Super hard for a perfectionist such as myself to fully absorb, but I am trying.

Today, as I am experiencing a new bout of worry – this on a personal, social level, I went to the Net to confirm whether the quote was, “don’t borrow worry” or “don’t borrow trouble” and came across a treasure trove of years of wisdom about disarming yourself of your worry.  And I felt a need to share them with you as I suspect that now and again you may subject yourself to this unproductive emotion – and whether this is the case of not, I find them quite witty, entertaining and thought-provoking – and have selected a sampling that I hope will make your day a little better, save you a sleepless night or two, and prove valuable someday down the road.

The source of this compilation of quotations comes from a website called, quotegarden

If I had my life to live over, I would perhaps have more actual troubles but I’d have fewer imaginary ones.  ~Don Herold

Drag your thoughts away from your troubles… by the ears, by the heels, or any other way you can manage it.  ~Mark Twain

Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday.  ~Author Unknown

Let us be of good cheer, remembering that the misfortunes hardest to bear are those which will never happen.  ~James Russel Lowell

If things go wrong, don’t go with them.  ~Roger Babson

Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.  ~Leo Buscaglia

Do not anticipate trouble or worry about what may never happen.  Keep in the sunlight.  ~Benjamin Franklin

If you can’t sleep, then get up and do something instead of lying there worrying.  It’s the worry that gets you, not the lack of sleep.  ~Dale Carnegie

I’ve developed a new philosophy… I only dread one day at a time.  ~Charlie Brown (Charles Schulz)

Troubles are a lot like people – they grow bigger if you nurse them.  ~Author Unknown

If you want to test your memory, try to recall what you were worrying about one year ago today.  ~E. Joseph Cossman

Nerves and butterflies are fine – they’re a physical sign that you’re mentally ready and eager.  You have to get the butterflies to fly in formation, that’s the trick.  ~Steve Bull

I keep the telephone of my mind open to peace, harmony, health, love and abundance.  Then, whenever doubt, anxiety or fear try to call me, they keep getting a busy signal – and soon they’ll forget my number.  ~Edith Armstrong

Nerves provide me with energy.  They work for me.  It’s when I don’t have them, when I feel at ease, that I get worried.  ~Mike Nichols

I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief…. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.  ~Wendell Berry, “The Peace of Wild Things”

People gather bundles of sticks to build bridges they never cross.  ~Author Unknown

You can’t wring your hands and roll up your sleeves at the same time.  ~Pat Schroeder

The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.  ~Elbert Hubbard, The Note Book, 1927

Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere.  ~Glenn Turner

People become attached to their burdens sometimes more than the burdens are attached to them.  ~George Bernard Shaw, “Family Affection,” Parents and Children, 1914

Panic is a sudden desertion of us, and a going over to the enemy of our imagination.  ~Christian Nevell Bovee

Somehow our devils are never quite what we expect when we meet them face to face.  ~Nelson DeMille

For peace of mind, resign as general manager of the universe.  ~Author Unknown

We experience moments absolutely free from worry.  These brief respites are called panic.  ~Cullen Hightower

If you treat every situation as a life and death matter, you’ll die a lot of times.  ~Dean Smith

It only seems as if you are doing something when you’re worrying.  ~Lucy Maud Montgomery

A hundredload of worry will not pay an ounce of debt.  ~George Herbert

As a cure for worrying, work is better than whiskey.  ~Thomas A. Edison

Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow.  ~Swedish Proverb

Never bear more than one kind of trouble at a time.  Some people bear three – all they have had, all they have now, and all they expect to have.  ~Edward Everett Hale

That the birds of worry and care fly over you head, this you cannot change, but that they build nests in your hair, this you can prevent.  ~Chinese Proverb

We can easily manage if we will only take, each day, the burden appointed to it.  But the load will be too heavy for us if we carry yesterday’s burden over again today, and then add the burden of the morrow before we are required to bear it.  ~John Newton

Worry bankrupts the spirit.  ~Berri Clove

Worry ducks when purpose flies overhead.  ~C. Astrid Weber

It is the little bits of things that fret and worry us; we can dodge a elephant, but we can’t dodge a fly.  ~Josh Billings

Worry, doubt, fear and despair are the enemies which slowly bring us down to the ground and turn us to dust before we die.  ~Attributed to Douglas MacArthur

You can never worry your way to enlightenment.  ~Terri Guillemets

When you suffer an attack of nerves you’re being attacked by the nervous system.  What chance has a man got against a system?  ~Russell Hoban

Any concern too small to be turned into a prayer is to small to be made into a burden.  ~Corrie ten Boom, Clippings from My Notebook

I am reminded of the advice of my neighbor.  “Never worry about your heart till it stops beating.”  ~E.B. White

There are two days in the week about which and upon which I never worry… Yesterday and Tomorrow.  ~Robert Jones Burdette

A day of worry is more exhausting than a day of work.  ~John Lubbock

As a rule, what is out of sight disturbs men’s minds more seriously than what they see.  ~Julius Caesar

I refuse to be burdened by vague worries.  If something wants to worry me, it will have to make itself clear.  ~Robert Brault, www.robertbrault.com

Don’t chain your worries to your body.  The burden soon becomes heavy and your health will give too much of itself to pick up the extra load.  ~Astrid Alauda, Dyspeptic Enlightenment

Worry is rust upon the blade.  ~Henry Ward Hughes

Heavy thoughts bring on physical maladies; when the soul is oppressed so is the body.  ~Martin Luther

I have learned to live each day as it comes, and not to borrow trouble by dreading tomorrow.  It is the dark menace of the future that makes cowards of us.  ~Dorothy Day

Worry is a complete cycle of inefficient thought revolving about a pivot of fear.  ~Author Unknown

Loneliness, insomnia, and change:  the fear of these is even worse than the reality.  ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic’s Notebook, 1966

It is not the cares of today, but the cares of tomorrow, that weigh a man down.  ~George MacDonald

Oh the nerves, the nerves; the mysteries of this machine called man!  Oh the little that unhinges it, poor creatures that we are!  ~Charles Dickens

Some patients I see are actually draining into their bodies the diseased thoughts of their minds.  ~Zacharty Bercovitz

Some of your hurts you have cured,
And the sharpest you still have survived,
But what torments of grief you endured
From the evil which never arrived.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.  ~Mark Twain

My life has been full of terrible misfortunes most of which never happened.  ~Michel de Montaigne

If you see ten troubles coming down the road, you can be sure that nine will run into the ditch before they reach you.  ~Calvin Coolidge

When one has too great a dread of what is impending, one feels some relief when the trouble has come.  ~Joseph Joubert

Some men storm imaginary Alps all their lives, and die in the foothills cursing difficulties which do not exist.  ~Edgar Watson Howe

How much pain they have cost us, the evils which have never happened.  ~Thomas Jefferson

When I really worry about something, I don’t just fool around.  I even have to go to the bathroom when I worry about something.  Only, I don’t go.  I’m too worried to go.  I don’t want to interrupt my worrying to go.  ~J.D. Salinger, Catcher in the Rye

Anxiety is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind.  If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.  ~Arthur Somers Roche

There are people who are always anticipating trouble, and in this way they manage to enjoy many sorrows that never really happen to them.  ~Josh Billings

Only man clogs his happiness with care, destroying what is with thoughts of what may be.  ~John Dryden

Love looks forward, hate looks back, anxiety has eyes all over its head.  ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic’s Notebook, 1960

Worry is interest paid on trouble before it comes due.  ~William Ralph Inge

There are more things, Lucilius, that frighten us than injure us, and we suffer more in imagination than in reality.  ~Seneca

We are more disturbed by a calamity which threatens us than by one which has befallen us.  ~John Lancaster Spalding

We are, perhaps, uniquely among the earth’s creatures, the worrying animal.  We worry away our lives.  ~Lewis Thomas, The Medusa and the Snail, 1979

Grief has limits, whereas apprehension has none.  For we grieve only for what we know has happened, but we fear all that possibly may happen.  ~Pliny the Younger

Blessed is the person who is too busy to worry in the daytime and too sleepy to worry at night.  ~Author Unknown

Real difficulties can be overcome, it is only the imaginary ones that are unconquerable.  ~Theodore N. Vail

No man ever sank under the burden of the day. It is when tomorrow’s burden is added to the burden of today that the weight is more than a man can bear.  ~George MacDonald

Rule number one is, don’t sweat the small stuff.  Rule number two is, it’s all small stuff.  ~Robert Eliot

He who fears he shall suffer, already suffers what he fears.  ~Montaigne, Essays, 1588

Wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weights you down.  ~Toni Morrison

Every evening I turn my worries over to God.  He’s going to be up all night anyway.  ~Mary C. Crowley

2 comments

  1. Today I wrote the quote below, and then decided to search and see if I could find something similar, and came upon your blog.

    “Today is the yesterday; you will not be able to do over, tomorrow.” by Peter Curtiss

    Karen, I have often reminded myself that the sluggard never worries. And I am convinced that when something I’m working on matters; then nothing I do is worry. I try to use all the angst like “jet fuel.” But terror of the unknown, that also matters, is what breaks my concentration and scatters my thoughts.

  2. Peter, yes, using angst like jet fuel is like taking control over your destiny rather than worrying what will befall you. Sounds like a good approach. Saying that “Today is the yesterday you will not be able to do over tomorrow” seems double sided. It’s good in that it encourages you to think things through, but might it discourage spontaneity or might it cause you to seize the day? Depends upon your overall take on life, I imagine. Thank you for your comments.

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