Why you should stop worrying
Everybody has worried about something in their lives, but do you realise the cost of worrying on your energy and your health?
What does it mean to worry?
"Worrying is when somebody frets about something that may or may not happen in the future"
You'll notice that the above statement has two key phrases in it "….may or may not happen…" and "…in the future." When we worry we are actually projecting ourselves and the things we worry about into the future. When we project ourselves into the future we are laying a seed for something to happen. Let me explain this a little better by way of an example:
When you got out of bed this morning you automatically project yourself into the future by asking yourself what you are going to do next. You don't consciously ask yourself it's a habit, so you won't notice yourself asking you'll automatically project your thoughts into the future. When you get up your first thoughts might be:
"I'll make a cup of coffee"
"I'll brush my teeth."
"I'll take the dog for a walk."
"I'll get the kids lunches ready for school."
"I'll get the kids up for school."
There are a hundred little 'future projections' going on in your head from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep. Here's the thing, most of these 'future projections' will happen as you have given your mind an action to take and your mind will work out ways to best fulfil your wish. Your mind is there to be commanded and most of the time it will fulfil every command you give it. With bigger wishes it will take longer but it is always working for you to find ways to fulfil your wishes.
Now, here's the real sting in the tail. Your mind does not know the difference between a positive wish and a negative wish. To your mind, a wish is a wish whether it be a good or a bad one.
Right now my mind is working on lots of different wishes that I have commanded it to work on simply by voicing the wish internally, imagining the wish, voicing the wish externally, and thinking about it often. I firmly believe that as soon as I think about something, the thought has the power to make something else happen until a desired goal is reached. Of course it doesn't just happen by me thinking about it, i have to take positive action on all these wishes. It's a cycle: the more positive wishes I make for myself and others around me, the more positive action I take to make those wishes come true.
This is the same for a worry. I used to constantly worry about my children and the fact that something might happen to them if I wasn't around to protect them. I do the same with my wife. I have to consciously stop myself from thinking about all the things that could happen to her if I am not there to protect her (Of course my wife is extremely independent and can look after herself). When my wife goes out in the morning I used to think 'oh it's a bit dark outside what if someone were to attack her and nobody would see it happening' or 'it's a bit icy outside she might fall and hurt herself'. These thoughts are actually harmful to me and possibly even harmful to my family as my thoughts might cause another action to happen to make that 'wish' come true.
The anatomy of a worry wish
Here is what happens to our bodies and minds when we worry about something:
- Initially, we will internally vocalise the 'worry wish' for example, if you ask your son, who is 14 years old and responsible, to go to the shops for a loaf of bread you might worry 'What if he get's run over when I ask him to cross that busy road to get to the shops for a loaf of bread.' You then have a few choices; you go to the shop yourself, you postpone going to the shop, you tell him to be careful when crossing the road, you carry on worrying about it. you know that you need to teach him to be independent, but there's always that niggling feeling in the back of your mind.
- When you carry on worrying about it you form a mental picture in your head. This is called visualisation, which is a very powerful way of achieving your goals in life. When you visualise something in your head your mind thinks it is actually happening and takes the appropriate action and responses. So in your mind you see your son getting knocked down by a car, your body starts producing and pumping adrenaline round your body in preparation for a shock, your blood pressure goes up slightly, your heartbeat rate increases dramatically, blood is taken away from your vital organs in order to give more blood to your muscles in preparation for you to start running and give you more muscle strength. Then when your son walks in, your body starts relaxing after 15 minutes to a few hours. That is only after 1 worry thought.
- You then might give the thought even more power by telling your friends at work what you worried about this morning. In other words you are externally vocalising your worry wish. What happens then? Your friends will start telling you about the time when one of their friends son was knocked down and what happened to them after that. This gives even more power to the worry wish as your head is full of worry and everything that could happen. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, your mind is working hard to fulfil your wishes, it's saying 'Jesus! They must really want this bad, that's them telling me privately, then they have given me an image to work on and they have now voiced it out to their friends, I better work hard on making this happen.' Of course your worry wishes can't make something happen to someone else, but your body and mind is getting ready for something happening.
- You then decide that you will not ask your son to cross the road in the future to go to the shops you will always go yourself. Problem solved!
That decision that was just made might not be a good one as your son will then never become truly independent which might lead to problems in the future.
This could go on and on. Basically, the more you worry about something the more power you give the worry.
People who worry a lot are undoubtedly a lot less healthy than people who don't worry as much.
How to stop worrying
There's no point in writing about this if I wasn't going to try and help you to become less of a worrier.
Here are a few action plans you can take to worry less:
1. Learn to accept uncertainty
People who worry a lot don't like uncertainty in their lives and because they cannot control the dangers in life for themselves and their loved ones they worry even more. You have to accept uncertainty in your life. Accept the fact that you love someone enough, including yourself, to worry about them, but you cannot control what may or may not happen.
People who worry say it prepares them for something that might happen. This is not the case, when you constantly worry you are taking away all that is good from life and you are choosing to focus on the bad things that might happen. When you catch yourself worrying make a point of thinking about something good which is going on in your life just now. I am not saying never worry, I'll talk about this later, but be balanced and think about the good things in life.
2. Designate a time to worry
This might sound ridiculous. When I used to worry about my family I weaned myself of the worry wishes by catching myself worrying and then postponing it until a certain time of the day, usually 1pm when it was my lunch break. By the time lunch break came around the worry wish had disappeared. Not all worry wishes are like this but you will find most worry wishes will completely go out of your head if you postpone them until later in the day.
3. Designate a time for gratitude
This is extremely powerful and can help drastically change your worrying nature. I constantly, internally, thank my external force for everything I have in life. This is not religious, I believe in a force outside ourselves and whatever that force is I thank it for my life, for being alive, for my family, for my friends, for everything. This takes time away from the worry wishes and actually drowns them out to a degree if practiced every single day. I usually do my thanking in the morning but catch myself being grateful all the time.
4. Learn to relax
Worrying causes stress and anxiety which can lead to health problems. It is important to learn how to relax. You can do this by doing something you enjoy or learning how to meditate, or buy a guided meditation, whatever it is make sure it relaxes you and calms you for a period of time. Reading is also very good for relaxing and building up the brain muscles at the same time.
5. Stand up to your worry wishes
Just because you start worrying about something doesn't mean to say you have to continue listening to the worry. Start to stand up to your worries and ask yourself for evidence of the worry, the probability of the worry happening, look at a more positive spin on the worry, and another great way is to pretend you are talking to a good friend and they were telling you the worries that are going through you head, what would you say to them?
I hope this helped some people who are worriers, I know what it's like and it can be a real drain on your energy.
Here are some more resources you might find useful: