Have you ever asked yourself, ‘Why do I worry?’ Have you ever asked yourself, ‘What is worry and why does it play such an important role in my life?’
These questions, in and of themselves, open what I call ‘portals to awareness and change.’ From a life coach perspective, awareness is the first key step to creating any type of positive change in your life. For without conscious awareness, you and I will continue to exhibit thoughts, language and behaviors that either lead us to the promised land of positive results or to the dreaded outcomes and the day of the locusts we so greatly fear.
So, what is worry and why do most of us experience it? All forms of fear, be it anxiety, depression, anger, despair, and worry, serve some purpose. Worry serves the worrier in some purposeful way. When our clients tell me or Chris that they are worried, we always respond with this question, ‘How does worrying serve you?’
You see, each and every emotion we possess and exhibit serves some purpose. Worry, and the experience of worrying and identifying ourselves as a worrier, are simple manifestations of our own energy in motion. The energy that you and I label ‘worry’ never creates a good feeling. Know that all emotions, whether good or bad, create feelings in our bodies. How we feel through our bodies is simply a network of electric charges of sorts. When this charge is fired up over and over again it becomes habitual. This is also known as an addiction.
Which leads me to ask you, ‘Are you addicted to worrying?’ Before you answer that question, know this: most people today are worry addicts. You see, worry, is simply your mind’s fixation and obsession on some future event, situation, experience or condition that has not occurred and may never, ever happen at all. The truth is that nearly all that you and I may worry about never comes to pass. Yet, that fact alone does not stop you from worrying, does it? No, I didn’t think it would!
If your are a worry wart, stop for a moment and ask yourself, ‘Why do I worry so much of the time?’ Listen, and I mean really listen for the answer. I will suggest to you that the response you receive is directly linked to a lack of trust in your own life. Specifically, when it comes to trusting other people, and mostly not trusting yourself.
Worry is always future-oriented. Interestingly, when we are present, mindful of what we are doing here and now, worry vanishes. Though very few of us have mastered living ‘in the now’ all of the time, we are able to eliminate worry when we consciously begin to trust the world, ourselves and the process of life more today than we did yesterday.
Here’s a fact about worry that may assist you to begin to move away from it now: worry is an emotional behavior that is passed on and learned. It is likely that as a child you witnessed one or both of your parents exhibiting worry as a rather constant aspect of their personalities.
My mother, like most mothers, is a habitual worrier. It’s as if she needs something to worry about. It appears that as a society we have conditioned women to believe that motherhood and worrying go hand-in-hand. I believe that a lot of women who play the role of Mom confuse worry for love.
In other words, the belief they live by is ‘if I don’t worry I’m not being a concerned, dedicated, loving parent.’ Within this belief is an inherent lack of trust. That lack of trust is directly (willingly or not) passed on to children. The result is, and has been, a world full of fear-based worriers. Just turn on the news: the advertisers are banking on the fact that you and I are worry addicts!
Loving and caring about others is very different from worrying. There is an old saying ‘the best laid plans of mice and men.’ I forget how it goes. The translation is that no amount of planning can control what the future holds for you and me. We each have a story about how we planned and planned, and worried and worried some more. And in the end none of that really mattered.
With that said, if we cannot control certain outcomes why bother worrying about them at all? And if you can genuinely control an outcome, then take the appropriate action to produce it. In either case it becomes a no-brainer to eliminate worry from your life.
Worry, with its’ habitual nature, can have unfortunate consequences long-term. Some of these consequences manifest in physical diseases like headaches, ulcers and other digestive disorders, to back ailments and cardiac disease, to name a few.
On the non-physical level, worry blocks possibilities and new growth-oriented opportunities from entering our lives. When we focus our undivided attention on what could possibly go wrong, we inevitably miss all the good that is right in front of us, and we miss any future opportunity to improve what currently is our life.
As a recovering worrier, let me assure you that it is very likely you can eliminate worry from your life, too. Here is a simple way to start: grab a pen and a sheet of paper. On this paper write down a list of everything you are currently worrying about…and I mean everything!
Now, put the letter ‘C’ next to each item that you feel you can honestly change or control. These are the situations, experiences or results you fear will happen; however, with right action, you can potentially change or completely eliminate them from ever happening. Next, put the letter ‘U’ along side the items you did not mark with the letter ‘C.’ These represent all the worry items that you believe are uncontrollable and out of your hands and there is absolutely no right action you can take to change or eliminate it from occurring.
When you are done with this exercise, read each item marked with a ‘U’ aloud. Then say: ‘I release this situation, experience, or outcome to the powers that be. I trust the process of life and I know that all is well now and always!’
Then, select one, two or even three items you marked with a ‘C’ that you can potentially change the outcome to create a more desired result. If you can change it, then commit to one action step to do so. The answer may be as simple as you being more trusting and willing to give up the need to worry and control all of the outcomes that life gives you from one day to the next.
Understand that the process of worrying keeps us from feeling good both emotionally and physically. In the long run it can do a ‘real number’ on us in a variety of ways.
Be open to eliminating worry from your life now! Notice when you worry. Ask yourself what function does it serve. How may worry be blocking positivity from entering in to your life? Do the exercise I suggested. Consider doing it on a regular basis until you have taken right action with the future outcomes you can control and change. Over time you will see the list shrink. And finally, feel the worry and be open to turning it over to a higher power, whatever that power is for you.
When worry diminishes in intensity you will witness some astounding changes in your life. You will actually find yourself enjoying life on a deeper, more meaningful level. And that my friends, is what being here and being human is all about!