A friend has this quotation on his bedroom wall: “I know worry works because nothing I worry about ever happens.”
I think he believes that because he worries a lot — and about the most insignificant things. He worries about the big things, of course, like health, relationships, and finances. But he also has a tendency to fret about anything and everything that finds its way into the subconsciousness.
Because so many of my clients (including myself) spend their time on worry, I’ve decided to embrace it with a personal research project. Maybe you’d like to join me.
Here are two avenues I’m exploring for us all:
1) I practice catching myself at it. “Hey, my anxiety is creeping up again!” During recent morning meditation, I caught myself worrying 10 times during one session! On rare days when I don’t have anything to worry about, no clients or no errands, I start to look and find something. What I’ve learned is that worry is a mental habit. We can change habits; I’ve done it before and have coached others as well. There’s hope.
2) My second approach is to practice presence. By this, I mean stopping our thoughts. In my workshops, I ring a bell to help participants practice centering. The quieter we are, the longer we hear the bell. There’s a lovely moment when we all listen . . . until the ring is barely audible . . . then just a memory. I relish that moment of quiet before my thoughts re-engage. There is no future or past, just now. The present is the only presence. No worrying thoughts — no thoughts at all. It’s a peaceful place, which is why I stretch the moment. I want to strengthen the connection to something greater than my worries.
3) When I told my good friend Destiny about my “Anxiety & Stress” project, she told me about her approach, which is to do the following two things: 1. decide to address the issue right then; if you can’t do anything about it at the moment, give yourself a time to address it later; or 2. decide that it is not important and let it go. In other words, act on it, file it or throw it away.
4) Finally, one of Destiny’s favorite worry stoppers (and mine) is to sing, write poetry or paint. Connect with your self, your creativity, and the place where everything really is okay.
Awareness and acknowledgment are the keys to changing our habits. Morihei Ueshiba, who founded aikido, said we must “always practice the Art of Peace in a vibrant and joyful manner.” Perhaps my research project on anxiety will help my clients lighten up, smile, and live each day in such a way.
Are you worrying? What is your anxiety teaching you?
Stop your thoughts for a moment.
Listen to the sounds around you, pay attention, and be present to this key moment. And smile . . . for no reason. You may find that’s the best reason of all.