A few weeks ago, I posted an article about my Meditation Journey, and starting up a local meditation group. It has been a fantastic and inspiring group. Last week, our discussion turned towards ways to Step Away from Worry. The thoughts and strategies shared hit so close to home, that I can’t help but share. I am truly blessed to have come into contact with such amazing people.
A Life of Worry
Anyone who knows me well, knows that I tend to fret and worry…about anything and everything. I’ve even been told that I’m not happy unless I’m fretting about something. I have allowed worry and stress to nearly overrun my life. Physically, I’ve suffered from weight gain, back/shoulder pain, headaches and general crankiness.
That being said, over the past few years I have been actively working towards worrying less. I’ve been taught a few techniques that have helped. Which, I will also share here.
#1 Live in the Present Moment
It makes no sense to worry about things you have no control over because there’s nothing you can do about them, and why worry about things you do control? The activity of worrying keeps you immobilized.” Wayne Dyer
To worry is to try to live in, and control the future. We cannot control everything that is going to happen in the future. We can plan, dream and scheme. However, we cannot control all of the future circumstances or events.
Regret goes hand-in-hand with worry. Regret is living in the past. We also have no control over the past. We cannot go back and undo or redo anything that has already happened. All we can do is learn the lesson, and move on.
Living in the Present means that our focus and attention in on the here and now. If there is something unpleasant happening right now, what action can you take?
For example, I woke up this morning worried about all of the work I have to get done this week. First, I took a deep, calming breath. Then, I decided I could approach this situation a couple of different ways.
- I could continue to fret about it, wasting so much of my precious time and being distracted from what it is that I need to do.
- Obviously not!
- I could make a list of all the items I want to get done, and create some sort of mental strategy.
- Personally, this method tends to stress me out, too 🙁 If I don’t finish “the list” I am not happy with myself, regardless of the length…
- I could just get busy, knowing that everything that needs to be done, will get done.
- This is what I did, and I’m here typing this up with about 3 other things ticked off my “to do list”. 🙂
Practice Living in the Present Moment
As we learn to live in the present moment, we can greatly reduce the stressful burdens we carry along the way. When thoughts of a worrying variety come in, we can ask ourselves
- Do I have control over the events surrounding these thoughts?
- If yes, what action can I take right now?
- If no, move on.
- Are these thoughts rooted in the past, or future?
- If yes, move on
- If no, what action can I take right now?
- Is there anything I can do, right now, to alter the course of this event?
- If yes, then do it.
- If no, move on.
- Is the world going to end if I don’t do this, that or the other thing?
- If yes, then by all means get on it…spare the rest of us, please.
- If no, it’s OK to move on.
I know this seems to be very simplified. I have learned with practice, however, that this line of questioning can change the direction of my thoughts.
#2 Stop the Thought Rehearsals
How often do you find yourself rehashing past events, conversations? What about practicing what you are going to say or do if this, that or the other thing happens? Do you find yourself intensely focused on the dangers of all the things that can kill you, or make you sick? All of this falls under the heading of Thought Rehearsals.
When I am really worried about something, I find myself thinking about it constantly. I “rehearse” my reactions to possible outcomes. I relive past conversations, or actions wishing I could have done something different. All in all, I find myself spending an enormous amount of time and energy on things I have absolutely no control over.
The problem with all of this is that you live through it each time it crosses your mind. With each of these thought processes, you go through the same emotional responses that you would go through in the event.
For example, let’s say an event occurred last week that really left you feeling angry. If there is no action to take, but you still continue to relive the event on a daily basis, you continue to feel that anger, every single time!
What to Do?
Stop Sign Technique
I was taught this technique in a Stress Relief Hypnotherapy Session at Mind Over Body Hypnotherapy. Basically, when you find yourself in a loop of rehearsing or reliving thought patterns, visualize a Stop Sign. Big, bright red and in your face. The stop sign is a reminder to stop this crazy train of thought, before is uses up any more of your time and energy.
Change the Picture
This technique was shared during last week’s meditation group. When you find yourself worrying about something, stop and change the picture. Visualize a positive outcome. For example, say you are worried about how an upcoming job interview is going to go. Stop, and visualize yourself being confident, having all the right answers and the whole job interview going great!
#3 Worrying About Your Loved Ones Doesn’t Help Them!
We all want our loved ones to live the best lives possible. That’s a given! However, there are a couple of things to keep in mind.
- You cannot live anyone else’s life for them.
- They have their own life journey to make. Good, or bad, experiences shape our lives and make us who we are.
- A relationship is a connection between at least two people, and shares all of the energy each person puts into it.
- If you are spending all of your time worrying about the other person, then that energy (fear, anxiety, regret, etc.) is the energy you feed into the relationship.
One of the hardest lessons I am learning about being a mom to adult children is that I must back off. As much as I would like to see that every day of their lives is happy and joyful, I know that there is much to gain from the bumps in the road too. So, as I find myself fretting and worrying about the decisions they have to make, or the lessons they have to learn, I am starting to stop and see a new picture. I am visualizing empowering, positive outcomes. I see their success and joy. It is better to send that kind of energy into the relationship, than a whole lot more worry!
*Obviously, if your loved ones are in some kind of real danger, or a true danger to themselves, take action. Just remember, if there is no action to take, worrying about it doesn’t make it better.
What Strategies or Techniques do you use to keep Worry to a minimum?