What Do You Worry About?
Lately, life has been tough for many. Not just your standard everyday hassles, but big stuff. Things like spouses or siblings suddenly dying, pet owners losing their pets to unexpected disease, and husbands finding out their wives have months to live unless a cure can be found. We all hear about this type of thing happening to others, but what happens when it happens to you? How does it change you – and why do we have to wait for something “big” to happen to “get” life and be more present with it?
In my line of work, I often see people when they are going through their toughest times. I do my best to give them assurance, have them focus on what will help them the most, and provide bigger picture life guidance. What I noticed is that when something big and life threatening happens in people’s lives, they instantly become free of the worries that they are usually troubled by.
So along with the most challenging circumstances, comes freedom from small worries and a greater appreciation of life. So, my question is this: If something big can come along and instantly displace everyday worries, then can you chose to, at will, wipe your slate of small worries clean without having some big thing happen to make you do so?
Worry is a habit
Did you know that all worry is simply a habit? It is anxiety based on fiction. It is a series of thoughts regurgitated from a negatively perceived past that is projected into the future where an imaginary story of challenge is created. We feed our worry with our negative thinking – which is a defense mechanism your brain put so up to try to minimize the impact of negative events you experience in life. The belief that worrying will prevent bad things from happening is a common myth.
Most of what you worry about does not usually happen, but when you worry about it, it has the same effect as if you are actually experiencing it. That’s why worry is the greatest waste of our mental energy, and a complete waste of time. Scientific studies also show that when a worry you have does indeed come to pass, you actually handle it much better than you ever imagined you would.
See things differently now
Don’t wait for something big to come along and make you realize that the things you are currently worrying about really don’t matter. In thinking about this, I remembered a story that novelist Anne Lamott tells in book titled, Traveling Mercies. She writes about how she got the big picture when she was out shopping with a friend who was terminally ill.
She was in a wheelchair, wearing a wig to cover her baldness, weighing almost no pounds, but very serene, very alive. We were at Macy’s. I was modeling a short dress for her that I thought my boyfriend would like.
But then I asked whether it made me look big in the hips, and Pammy said, as clear and kind as a woman can be, “Annie? You really don’t have that kind of time.” I just got it. I got it deep in my being . . . You don’t have that kind of time.
She’s right. We don’t have that kind of time. We think we have all the time in the world to live – and so we waste our time worrying about the things that really don’t matter. Small worries disappear when we embrace the bigger picture of life, and truly see the beauty and value of the life we are given.
Do you have to wait for something big to knock you off your feet for you to finally realize that you really only have the time to appreciate what is real? Or can you place your focus right here and right now on what is truly important…and set yourself free?