Constant worrying takes a heavy toll.
It can keep us up at night and make us edgy during the day. We agonize about matters that often never occur. So why is it so difficult to stop worrying?
Worrying is a built-in feature of our brain's safety processing. It's part of our fight or flight response system which is never turned off. It puts us into a state of heightened awareness so we're prepared for potential threats. It also happens to be a growing reality for the modern family.
Worrying can be helpful on occasion. When it comes to taking action and solving problems.
But often we're preoccupied with “what ifs” and worst-case scenarios. We project ourselves into a future over which we have no real control.
That's when worrying becomes a problem.
Unrelenting doubts and fears can be paralyzing.
They drain our emotional energy, they make us feel anxious and disrupt our daily life.
Worrying distorts our perspective on the truth of things.
Our worrying minds often convince us that the problem is much worse than it actually is. When we're really stuck in the throws of worry, it can feel like we're the only ones suffering in this way.
But worrying is not unique to you and me.
We all worry!
We all have bad days.
We all struggle from time to time.
We all have a story. Our past and present experiences have a great bearing on defining who we are and how we approach life.
When we begin to open to the possibility that life isn’t meant to be eternal plain sailing, we start to bounce back quicker from those troubled waters.
When we acknowledge and even welcome the pleasant and unpleasant realities of our lives, we significantly reduce our struggle with difficult challenges and increase our happiness and health.
Worrying is a mental habit that CAN be broken.
We can train our brain to worry less and look at life from a more positive perspective.
Here are three ways you can start doing that right now:
1. CULTIVATE a curious attitude.
Curiosity is a powerful weapon against fear and worry. Try it and see for yourself when you catch yourself worrying. Explore what you're worrying about. Ask yourself why are you worrying? If you find it challenging to be curious, channel your inner-kid curiosity. Kids have insanely curious minds. They have few worries and do not project themselves into an unknown future. Embrace that inner-kid spirit. It's there!
2. Redirect your attention.
We have very little control over most things, including our thoughts, emotions and sensations. The one thing we do have control over is our attention and where we choose to place it. When you become aware of worrying, redirect your attention from those worrying thoughts into your body. Allow your attention to fall with gravity to a specific focus point in the body. The most powerful places are the back of the eyeballs, the belly and breath and the feet.
3. Embrace a little uncertainty.
At it's root, worrying is often a fear of uncertainty. When we worry, we often believe that we have more control over future matters. This is mostly an illusion. I'm not suggesting for a minute that this is an easy path to choose. It's really hard to turn towards uncertainty with an open heart. It feels incredibly uncomfortable, which is partially why we try to convince ourselves that life is static and fixed.
I know from first-hand experience that turning towards uncertainty, as opposed to avoiding it, is the ONLY way through it.
Only when we begin to recognize and accept the impermanence of life, will we be in harmony with it.
(Image Copyright: Antonio Guillem/Shutterstock)