Are you a worrier?
Do you find yourself posing hypothetical situations of doom and gloom in your head all day long?
Maybe you’re not that extreme, but you find yourself thinking about the future in a way that takes away from your present tense experience and brings down your overall “vibe” more often than you’d like?
I teach classes about health and wellness all over the world and the most common thing people tell me they suffer from is…. anxiety, which is really just another name for worry.
Sometimes we feel like worrying is a necessary part of life. If we didn’t worry, how would we prepare ourselves for all the possible terrible outcomes of any given situation?
If we didn’t worry, we might get caught “off guard”.. which would be the worst, right?
I’ll let you in on a little secret, worrying steals our joy. In fact, I am going to argue that worry is actually a form of self harm.
We worry when something good is happening. We worry when something bad is happening. We worry when nothing is happening. We take on other people’s worry. And without intentionally choosing to focus on what is going well, over and over again, we are literally putting ourselves in a position where we could spend our lives not enjoying anything to its fullest, which would be a complete and utter shame.
Research has found we tend to think “good” things happening to us will make us happier than they actually do and that “bad” things happening to us will make us sadder than they actually do. This is to say; it truly is all about our perspective and how we see the world. Not about what actually happens to us.
Ok, so are you ready to intentionally choose a new perspective the next time you worry or experience anxiety?
Are you willing to make your feelings of worry or anxiety be the alert in your own mind that it is time to choose a new thought?
Here’s a practice that I find very useful when I’m dealing with worry or anxiety:
Notice yourself worrying about something.
Let go of the worry-thoughts, shifting your focus away from them
Wonder: What positive new thing is trying to come into being?
Notice a body feeling (not a thought or an idea) of where that positive new thing is trying to come through.
Open your focus to feel that body feeling deeply.
Let yourself feel it deeply for as long as you possibly can
Later, you will get an actual idea of how this new positive thing is trying to come through.
How this works in practice:
I’m walking down the street on a Saturday afternoon. I pass a clothing store where I have bought some fabulous pieces of clothing over the years. About fifteen seconds later I notice some worrying thoughts about money. Specifically, the worry-thoughts are about whether we have enough money to do all the marketing for business I’m planning on doing.
I notice the worry-thoughts and let them go, just dropping them mid-thought without pursuing them. (Meditation helps with this aspect, as it trains you to see your thoughts but not following them.)
I wonder what positive thought is trying to come through.
I feel a pleasant sensation in my throat.
As I walk along, I let myself feel it thoroughly, savoring the pleasant sensation.
A few minutes later, getting into my car, the insight occurs to me that seeing the clothes in the window triggered a wave of guilt about the level of abundance my husband and I enjoy, compared with other members of our family. Seeing the clothing also sparked a feeling of how much I love and appreciate my husband, and how much he doesn’t balk or give me criticism for my love of beautiful material things. I sit in my car for a few moments before turning on the engine, letting myself enjoy the feelings of how much I love and appreciate my husband, and how much I enjoy the prosperity we’ve created in our lives. I realize there is not physical object that could express those feelings. They exist in the nonmaterial world, in the feeling of flowing connection between us.
I pick up my phone and call Sean. He’s out doing errands too, and it turns out he’s two blocks away from where I’m sitting in the car. I tell him the sequence I just experienced from the glance in the window to the worry-thoughts to the delicious moment of letting myself feel the overflow of love and appreciation for him. I say, “Let’s make sure we take more time to celebrate what we have.”
He agrees and I head home.
I create more good feelings, feelings of overflow, abundance, and gratitude, RIGHT NOW, and not only that, I created these feelings because of the worry-thoughts. Because they were the perfect impetus to remind myself how much I have. I used the worry-thoughts as a jumping off point.