I decided to stop worrying. Well, to see if I could stop worrying. It happened a week ago. I got wrapped around the axle of uncertainty.
Not knowing my future got the better of me, and there was nothing I could do about it except wait. And worry. My heart was racing, I had horrible what-if scenarios playing on repeat in my mind, and this gripping fear just got me in a headlock.
Then I got some good news about the very thing I was worrying about. This actually startled me and had me consider the usefulness of my worrying. I spent all that energy and time worrying and trying not to bring others down and trying to be cool and trying to hope that everything will work out and have faith.
But I could tell that my worrying had no bearing on what happened. It wasn’t worth it. It wasn’t even related. If I had gotten bad news, the worry would have made no difference either. The worrying just made my experience with myself awful. I must think that worrying matters, that it is useful. But why?
This is what I discovered are my 5 *mythical* reasons for worrying:
1. Worrying means I’m being responsible
When I worry I feel like I care and am being responsible. I’m not shirking my duties or obligations when it seems like there’s nothing I can do to affect the circumstances. I can always worry.
2. Worrying keeps me alert and aware
If I worry I must be on the intelligent edge and can access high-level problem-solving abilities, the kind that aren’t available when I’m calm and clear-headed. Oh boy.
3. Worrying makes me right about whatever it is I’m worrying about
It feels so good to be right! When I worry I’m totally justified in my assessment of the situation. It IS dire. It IS worrisome. My judgment wins – I’m right! Told you so.
4. Worrying is better than letting myself experience whatever feelings lie beneath
I am numb to how much worrying I tolerate with myself. But where there’s smoke there’s fire. Where there is worry there is some other emotional pain, and it could feel worse than worrying. If I stick to worry then I can protect myself from fear, sadness, rage, grief, and a whole host of emotions that might be worse (but could help me heal).
5. Worrying is having faith
What the?? Seriously, I listened to myself and realized that I justify worrying as caring, and since I’ve run out of action then worrying must be a sign of how much I care. If I care that much I must be on the road to faith.
Intellectually, it’s easy to understand that worrying doesn’t work. It doesn’t change the circumstances, and it doesn’t improve anyone’s experience. But we worry anyway.
Changing from the worry channel to a more peaceful one takes more than rationalizing worry away. It requires changing our feelings and that takes the use of our attitudinal muscles.
Here are my strategies for waiting without worrying:
Talk Back to Worry
Worry thoughts will come up. When they do and I can hear them as worry thoughts, and when they haven’t fully taken hold they can kind of piss me off.
I talk back to the worry-thoughts, “Eff you! You freaked me out for no reason. I’m not doing that again!” And even after I calm down and they still show up I say, “Yeah, yeah, whatever. No.” I just don’t go there. The worry channel comes on, but I choose not to go there.
When worry has been tamed, I find things get quiet. I suddenly have gratitude come over me. Then I think, “Maybe I should worry about that.” Time to talk back again. “No! Knock it off!” But if talking back doesn’t cut it, I have to practice seeking stillness.
I pray and meditate. I close my eyes – there’s just too much stimulation from the physical senses that distracts and supports the noise of worry. Closing my eyes, listening to my breath, gently witnessing my worry, and seeking stillness gets me on a path to being internally quiet.
I visualize pushing the pause button on the worry channel. I know I can always un-pause it. Then quiet again.
In the absence of worry I can let things be. I remember all that is working in life. When I let things be, it’s like opening a door to another reality, a peaceful one, the magical one.
Humbly Surrender Worry
Sometimes I am not able to simply change channels. When worry has taken hold and mounted to anxiety, it’s time to get on my knees (metaphorically and sometimes physically).
I close my eyes and imagine a Universal altar. This altar is for placing any and all issues, including my worries. Surrendering issues on this Universal altar allows Spirit to alter thoughts and feelings and bring them back in line with my highest self.
My willingness to release my worry requires humility. I have to admit that I may not be right. My judgments, solutions, timing, and circumstantial expectations are only one possible way. I package all of that up and place it humbly on the altar. Sometimes I cry as I hand it all over.
I remember that I can either let the Universe that powers my heart to beat and flowers to blossom and solar systems to move in harmony to take care of me, or I can continue trying to do it myself.
I lay it all on the altar and let go. I think, “Thank you, Spirit, for taking this worry from me. I’m on your plan and follow your guidance.” I sit in stillness for as long as I want and need, allowing Love in, letting my righteousness go. If a little tempting worry thought creeps up, I toss it on the altar. It’s never too late. I can keep adding to the altar with the stipulation that I let it go.
Quietness returns, and I know my job: wait patiently with an open heart, listen and follow. Now, I trust in a power greater than my own, and I wait for what’s next without worry.