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11 Aug
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Worry – What Is It Good For?

Absolutely nothing.

I know, I used to be a first class worrier. All it ever achieved for me was to make my life miserable when everyone else seemed to be having fun. Then there would be that sage advice – don’t worry everything’s gonna be ok. I always used to think, in response to that particularly useless bit of wisdom, how do you know everything is gonna be ok. Are you psychic or something. That was in the days before I started reading tarot cards and didn’t know any psychics though. My overriding thought was if I knew how to not worry, don’t you think I’d be doing that? Does this look like I’m enjoying it or something? I never had the courage to say those things back in those days, but those thoughts were prominent in response to unasked for advice from well-meaning friends.

I still worry from time to time. The world, thoughtless people and greed occasionally break through my barriers to worry, but most of the time now my mind is peaceful and when something crops up that needs me to do a little worrying – the worrying lasts a couple of hours rather than a couple of weeks. In fact sometimes I worry that I don’t do enough worrying nowadays and just totally ignore stuff that used to get me into a panic state. So I find myself pretty much doing what I want to do and ignoring the world as best I can.

So how did I shift from this place of anxiety-ridden existence to a place of peace and wisdom?

I worked really hard at it.

I looked at my world and my thoughts about that world and I changed the thoughts because they weren’t helping.

Whenever I experienced an emotional reaction I would treat it as though the cause was my believing something about the world that simply wasn’t true. I would seek out the truth.

I observed just how much of my worry was sourced not in real life events but in what I thought others were thinking about me. So I stopped mind-reading.

I became aware of how much worry was being caused by the events going on in the world. That led to a realisation that news reporting was totally focused on negative events. I stopped watching the news. I’ve never read newspapers, but if I had done I would have stopped reading those too.

I learned to meditate because that gave my mind a rest.

Then one, day the breakthrough came. It was one of the most amazing things I have ever experienced – but it was over in a moment.

I was sitting in my favourite worry chair, worrying about something or other that wasn’t going right in my life. I was really working hard at it. This wasn’t an idle worry, it was a full-blown, explore every nuance of every possible aspect of the situation kind of worry. Then, in a moment of clarity, I thought ‘I’m fed up with this, I don’t want to do it any more’ and then I got up and went over to my computer and did something much more interesting instead. The worry was gone.

In that moment I realised a most amazing thing. Worry is a choice.

Worry is also a habit.

Habits are not easy to break but all the work I’d been doing had been interfering with the habit aspect of worrying. I’d loosened the habit enough to be able to choose not to do it.

At the very deepest level what drives worrying is a distorted view of life and your world. The distorted view is not your fault, it’s simply your reaction to your world as you were growing up. Your view is highly coloured by the distorted views of the significant adults who were around you in your young life. Everyone’s view is distorted –this is not a condemnation or a blaming of anyone. We are all always doing the best we can given what we believe to be true.

The more distorted your world view, the greater your levels of anxiety are likely to be.

Change that view and you change your world.

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