Expert Worrier? Don’t Worry About It.
How to Use Worrying Expertise to Your Advantage
For many of us, worrying – especially high level/expert worrying – is a birthright.
Passed down from generation to generation, we learn to navigate the crazy world around us by keeping our brains at least 3 steps ahead of the game, probing for potential calamities and pre-solving (or at least attempting to pre-solve) them.
It’s exhausting work.
It’s puts a damper on happy.
Yet we persist.
Why? Because we believe it’s better than the alternative. We believe it gives us CONTROL. And control feels good. It feels safe. In that moment, when we feel we’ve pre-solved for the possibility of catastrophe, we can finally b r e a t h e.
And that’s about as long as “safety” lasts.
Then we’re off to the races again.
Unfortunately, it starts to take a toll on our bodies. The human body was not designed to remain in a constant state of high alert (which is what you’re doing with all those attempts to pre-solve) and forcing it to do so has numerous physiological consequences:
High blood pressure
And Arthritis are just a few of the consequences...
So, it’s pretty clear that all this worry is doing harm. But is it doing any good?
In truth, all of those problems that you “pre-solve” can be just as easily solved when (and if) they actually happen. It’s a pretty high cost to pay for no net payoff.
The good news? You can learn to use this mastery-of-worry to do good.
To improve happy.
To heal your body.
The skillset of Worry is virtually identical to the skillset of Mindfulness. And Mindfulness, as a dear friend’s ER doctor told her when her ‘heart attack’ turned out to be a panic attack, is the cure to worry.
When you worry, you’re choosing to direct your thoughts and attention to a story about the future that you, yourself are creating.
When you practice Mindfulness, you’re choosing to direct your thoughts and attention to the present moment, which you don’t need to create.
The power lies within the act of choosing where (and on what) to direct your attention – something you’ve successfully done in order to create this default mode of worry!
And here’s the bonus:
All that futurecasting you’re currently doing to project out potential doom? By creating stories that visualize a desired future with excitement rather than worry, you’re setting the wheels of Attraction in motion, drawing that future to you and you to it like metal shavings to a magnet.
Calm and Confident
This is the most difficult step (especially if you’re that type A, “I’m the strong one” kind of worrier.) YOU NEED TO BELIEVE IT’S POSSIBLE FOR YOU. Basically, you’ve got to want it more than your perceived sense of control. Let me ask you this… If I could promise you that by making this shift, everything would be easier forever, would you be interested?
Trust me. It takes practicing, but this practice will change your life.
NOTICE when the horse leaves the gate. Start paying closer attention – right now, you’re probably aware of less than half of the times that you’re worrying.
The moment that you become aware that you’re worrying about something, PAUSE AND TAKE A DEEP BREATH.
Continue to breathe deeply for about a minute (don’t time it – 60 seconds is just a guide) and FOCUS YOUR ATTENTION on a sensation. I recommend rubbing two fingers together or fiddling a piece of your clothing between two fingers (you can do this anywhere). When your mind wanders away from the sensation, simply direct your attention back.
REPEAT. For this simple technique to have an effect, and it will have a profound one, you have to do it – a lot. Every time you catch yourself worrying, breathe and focus your attention on the present moment. Over years of practice, you have trained your brain to focus on worry, damage control – it’s your current default. This time, you’re training your brain to let go of the stories and live your life in the present moment – it will become the new default.
BONUS: When you feel like getting on that train into the future, envision the future as you want it to be, allow yourself to fill in the details until your body wells with emotions of excitement, love and joy.
This practice, when combined with living in the present moment (the only place where opportunity exists) creates real magic.