Worry All the Time?

Telling someone not to worry is as helpful as yelling at someone to relax, but the truth is, worrying is a waste of time and energy. It does no good whatsoever. You can worry as much as you like, but it won’t make money appear in your bank account, it won’t put food on your table, it won’t change another person’s mind or future actions, it won’t save anyone and it certainly won’t affect the weather. What it will do is rob you of the present moment, and give you a diminished or inflated sense of power. It can also make you sick, literally.

The mind-body connection is not just a concept, it’s real. Your body does not distinguish between events that are actually happening, and events you’re envisioning in your mind. If you see yourself in some painful future situation (that may or may not ever come to pass), and you start to write the dialogue for some imaginary conversation in your mind, you can send your blood pressure through the roof. Pay attention the next time you catch yourself “future-tripping”, and see if your jaw is clenched or your shoulders are up around your ears. Notice your breath and whether you have that shallow chest-breathing happening that occurs for us during times of stress. If you bite your nails, or twirl your hair, or cross your arms, or grit your teeth, or your stomach gets upset when you feel threatened or scared or ashamed or guilty or enraged, notice if these same things are happening in your body when you simply imagine yourself in an unwanted situation. You can make yourself sick with thoughts.

I find in my own life I fall prey to worry when I feel vulnerable, when I doubt my power to face reality as it is, or when I start to think I might be able to spare someone I love from pain. You cannot control most things. Certainly, you cannot control other people, nor do you want to try. Everyone has work to do. It’s a huge undertaking just to try to keep your own side of the street clean. You can’t manage another person’s path. Pain is part of the human experience, it opens us. It’s how we gain insight and grow in empathy and compassion. If you haven’t suffered, it’s not very easy to understand suffering. Not that you’d ever wish it on anyone, including yourself, but if you’ve been alive long enough, you’ll recognize the truth of this.

You don’t have the power to change what life is going to put in your path, or in the paths of those you love, but you do have the power to face those things with grace and strength, and to show up for the people in your life with everything you’ve got. That might look like simply surviving for awhile, depending on the degree of loss you’re facing. Or it might look like reaching out for help if you need it. Either way, you have the power to accept reality as it unfolds, both the exquisitely beautiful, and the devastatingly brutal. Worrying about what’s already happened won’t change a thing. Worrying about what could happen won’t change a thing. Taking a deep breath right now, and putting your hand over your beautiful, beating heart, that’s a thing you could do that is so simple and so full of power. Picking your mind up, and bringing it back to this moment, which will only happen once, is another thing of great beauty you could accomplish right now. Doing that again and again, moment after moment, hour after hour, so you don’t miss any of the gifts today might have to offer you, is brilliant. Don’t waste too much of today, the only today that’s ever going to happen, worrying about tomorrow. You’re vulnerable. I’m vulnerable. It’s the nature of being human, of loving, and of living. Might as well embrace that, because worrying about it won’t change it. There’s something so piercingly gorgeous about living with that knowledge. It makes every day an opportunity to open further, to share everything you’ve got, and to love your heart out. That feels a lot better than biting your nails.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

If the posts are helpful, you can find my books here and my yoga classes and courses here.

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