Give me that single word and I hear the raw emotion of Patsy Cline singing, “Why do I let myself worry?”
Indeed, why do we worry? Now I’m not asking what you worry about—it’s easy enough to have a list of reasons—but what is the purpose of worrying?
The Dalai Lama tells us, “If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it is not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.”
In the early years of my marriage, finances were meager. Two small children to feed, a paycheque that, according to Stats Canada, was at the poverty level. Living paycheque to paycheque, sometimes no paycheque at all. In time, things improved. Eventually, we sold the house we’d lived in for twenty years. Among the items to be discarded were stacks of past bills and copies of cheque receipts from those worrying times. The emotion attached to the papers was still palpable.
As I shredded the documents, I felt the pointlessness of it all. What had worry accomplished? Nothing beneficial, that’s for sure. Worrying affects sleep, appetite, relationships, performance, and health. But worrying didn’t fast-track payment of the bills or buying of groceries. When we couldn’t do either, worrying didn’t change the facts. (Thankfully, there was always a pot of spaghetti and meatballs simmering at the in-law’s house when our money didn’t quite stretch to the end of the month.)
So, why did I let myself worry? The lyric implies that worry is a choice. To do or not to do. Sometimes doing worry is a habit. It’s what we’ve always done. There’s comfort in the familiar—even if the familiar is painful and self-destructing—rather than choosing something else, something untried.
But what can we choose instead?
For one, we can choose to take action. As suggested by the Dalai Lama, doing so can shift your mind from focusing on the problem to focusing on solutions.
Another worry antidote is gratitude. Author Alison Wearing proposes a “ridiculously simple thing to do”—give gratitude—to lift your day. Say/sing good morning the moment you awake. Thank your bed, your pillow, the blankets. “Thank […] every damn thing about you.” (Fellow writers, check out Alison’s memoir writing program!)
One of my favourite gratitude greetings is this poem by Robert Louis Stevenson often used as a wedding prayer or table blessing.
Another form of giving gratitude is the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address. There are various translations, long and short versions. These words that come before all else put your worry into perspective by recognizing the many gifts already bestowed on us.
Kryon, as channeled by Lee Carroll (Dec 8/21) says to imagine yourself in the future when your problem is over and solutions have been found. You don’t know now what the solutions will be. You don’t know how solutions will happen or how long they will take. Nevertheless, project yourself to when it’s over, to how that’s going to feel. Take on those feelings and bring them back to your Now time. In NLP terms, this is called modelling your future self. Powerful, indeed.
Love music? What’s your favourite worry song? Mine, of course, is Patsy. There’s something homeopathic—like cures like—in listening to worry wailing. Before you know it, you start feeling good. (Yay, Neil.)
I’ll admit that it’s not always easy to not‑worry. Will it always be a work in progress? With practise, will the feelings of the solution state (gratitude state) become the default state of being?
Worry or not-worry? It is a choice.
And freedom of choice is a true gift.
For that, I give thanks.
Photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash