WHAT IS WORRY?
My dear mother was a self-proclaimed worrier. You probably have one in your family too. Or maybe you are one yourself. Some people say they worry because that is just who they are, but worry is not a genetic trait. It is a learned response and therefore can be unlearned. It is a choice one makes in reaction to life’s situations and stressors.
In my business, we call worry anxiety. It is the feeling of fear or dread about something that has not yet happened. Anxiety occurs when we feed “catastrophic thoughts.” I often tell people that living in anxiety is like living in a fantasy world of “what if.” What if I get sick, what if my children get hurt, what if my husband or wife is cheating, what if I don’t have enough money, time or resources. Now granted, these things often do happen and are realities in some people’s lives, but worrying that these things could happen when they haven’t, can create unnecessary emotional trauma. Chronic anxiety can make a person sick and even shorten one’s life. So how can we stop worrying?
We can to choose to live in reality. We are given today…nothing else. We can avoid the sink hole of anxiety by choosing to live in reality. Matthew 6:34 says, “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” The Message translates it this way: “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow.” This doesn’t mean to live haphazardly, but to live in the reality of what the day presents, since that is all any of us possess. A positive result of living in reality instead of anxiety can produce a second way to combat worry.
Practice gratitude. When we live in reality, our eyes can be open to the positive things that exist in this very moment. When we are off in the “never, never land’ of “what if,” we may miss what is right in front of us that is good and lovely. Being grateful for even the smallest things changes our perspective. It opens the heart and activates positive emotion centers in the brain. The positive emotions we evoke can soothe distress and broaden our thinking patterns so we develop a larger and more expansive view of our lives. Being grateful connects us to each other and to world around us.
People often believe that their “worry” can somehow control an outcome and therefore have a hard time letting “worry” go. The reality is that worry controls nothing except us, and not in a way that leads to life. Edith Armstrong said, “I keep the telephone of my mind open to peace, harmony, health, love and abundance. Then, whenever doubt, anxiety or fear try to call me, they keep getting a busy signal – and soon they’ll forget my number.” So choose reality, not anxiety…it’s all up to you.