Are you a worrier? How much of your day do you spend worrying? About finances, the state of your love life, your partner, your children, how you’re going to pay for your summer holiday, your promotion (or lack of) etc etc. If you’re nodding your head then this is for you!
If self care is filling up your inner cup, worry is one of the biggest drainers of that cup! Worry is a useless emotion,but it’s a powerful one! It often occupies our head space morning noon and night and it can affect our sleep, mood and behaviour. I’ve seen so many people in 1:1’s and in mindfulness classes who are great at their self care but who are draining their energy with worry.
When I mention to worriers that they could consider giving up worry, alot of them look at me in horror! To them giving up worry means that they won’t care anymore and that they’ll become passive (sometimes worry can help us to do something about our worries! However this is concern…more about that below)
I can see where they’re coming from but there is another option.
A number of years ago I came across a great quote: “Worry is like a rocking chair–it gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere.”
Isn’t it so true! For what is worry but an emotion that is related to your response to a probable event in the future. When you worry, your frame of reference shifts to reacting on the basis of “what if”; a future event that is not only unrealised but probably will never be.
When we center in the now and focus on the present, we can see that there is no need for worry. Worrying is useless for someone who lives fully in the moment. The now is the reality.
Ever worry so much about something only to find that it wasn’t half as bad as you thought it would be and if you’d only known you wouldn’t have worried in the first place?! For example, a presentation at work. You don’t sleep for days beforehand, you’re panicking about what people will say or think, you’re stressed out at the idea of standing up in front of all those people and what if it all goes horribly wrong, you forget your words, stumble over the presentation, get facts wrong and come across like a bumbling babbling eejit. The morning of the presentation you’re sick with nerves, heart pounding and you’ve forgotten everything you’ve so carefully rehearsed. Panic sets in, sheer panic. Breathing.. you read something somewhere about breathing and so you take some deep cleansing breaths, calm yourself down and go to the presentation knees a knocking. Once you walk to the podium it starts and goes by in a flash. Afterwards, you realise that, while it was good to be prepared, you didn’t need to worry so much about it. That the worry itself blinded you to the fact that you forgot certain facts or figures or you could have done it better but you were so busy not sleeping and feeling ill that you didn’t see it.
Worry is different to concern. Concern is a lighter emotion that motivates you to take action, for example, to save money to pay for upcoming holidays or a rainy day, to take courses to improve your life or take up a new hobby as an outlet for your creative talents. Concern will help you to see what you need to do about the situation.
“There is a great difference between worry and concern. A worried person sees a problem, and a concerned person solves a problem.” ~ Harold Stephens
By focusing your energies on what “might” happen, you’re actually pouring energy into making it happen. Ever hear the one about the pink elephant? What do you do? No matter how hard you try, all you can think of is a pink elephant! Therefore when you say to yourself….”Stop worrying”….well you’re just going to worry more and in doing so you’re pouring that energy into what you don’t want….the manifestation of your worries.
I don’t know about you but it seems like a practical joke that when I’m worried about finanaces I always seems to receive bills!
“Worry is like praying for something you don’t want….. to actually happen”
So how do you release worry? Well you can’t! What?
I know, that’s probably not what you want to hear! Worry is an emotion and life is full of events that will make us worry. So we can’t ever be rid of it but what we can do is change our relationship to it. If we can learn to meet worry with tools and strategies so that its doesn’t dis-empower us or get us caught in it’s cycle.
How? It’s not an overnight process. Nothing is. If you’re a worrier then you’ve probably worried for a few years now, maybe even your whole life, so it will take some time to change your relationship with worry. But if you have faith and persist after just a couple of weeks you will notice a big difference.
What are the tools? Well there are a number of things that you can do some of which are:
1) The cookie jar. Developed by John Thie, a renowned Kinesiologist. I heard about this a few years ago and I though it was genius. Basically you write down what you’re worried about on pieces of paper. One worry per piece and put them all into a glass jar. You make a promise to yourself that you will not worry about whatever is in the jar for one week. After this time, sit down, open the jar and go through your worries.Take out the things that you’re not worried about any more and add in new worries. Do the same thing again, put the jar away and promise that you won’t worry about the contents for the week and again sit down a week later and go through the jar. And so on. If you do start worrying about what’s in the jar, then stop yourself and remind yourself that it’s in the jar and you’ll look at it when the jar is opened again. This trains you to acknowlege the worry (writing it down) and to let it go (putting it in the jar). We can’t stop the worries coming to our lives (hence it’s not about having an empty jar), it’s about learning to manage them in a different way.
2) Practice Meditation & Mindfulness. Known as one of the most effective ways to bring your attention into the present moment, meditation is becoming more and more popular. (by now you might get the idea that I’m a bit of a fan!) Many people aren’t sure what it is or how to do it but really all it is is a way to relax and centre yourself. That could be spending 5 minutes a day doing some deep breathing exercises, or walking in nature and being fully present to the colours, sounds, smells and feel of the terrain. We covered meditation in a previous newsletter so I won’t go into it more here. However, if you’d like more information on it then you can access that edition here. I’m starting an 8 week course in mindfulness on Monday 24th of April (1st Monday after Easter) if you would like to explore this more.
If you want worry to be a thing of the past then do the above, they work excellently for freeing you up from this useless emotion. This takes so time to undo this pattern, so don’t put any expectations on yourself.