And then it was October.
Is it just me or have we suddenly fallen into Fall?
Crisp air and gorgeous blue skies. Sweaters coming out of storage. Chilly mornings. Acorns all around. First fires of the season. Hearty soups and stews. Halloween and harvest decorations dotting the landscape.
Ahhhhhh. It feels nice, doesn’t it? The kids back in school. Routines back in place. A beautiful rhythm. Not better or worse than summer, just different. And change is what makes the world go round, so we may as well embrace it. Right?
I certainly think so, but in my experience, people have a hard time embracing change without worrying. Actually, some people have a hard time doing anything without worrying.
Worry is on my mind today because I feel like everywhere I turn this week people are worrying. Worried about others. Worried about something they said. Worried about something they didn’t say. Worried that they are not doing enough in the world. Worried about their kids. Worried about their parents. Worried about world events.
Worry. Worry. Worry.
The kind of worry I am addressing here is the kind that you have no control over. When events are outside of you and you are stuck in wait and see mode.
But before I try to help you stop worrying, I want to tell you that for most of my life I was a worrier. A good one too. So I speak from experience when I say that it can be different.
For many years this was my refrain, “My grandmother is a worrier, my dad is a worrier and I am a worrier too. It’s just the way I am.”
But then I learned better.
Being a worrier is not “just the way I was”, it was the way I chose to be.
Just because it was modeled for me, didn’t mean I had to take it on as mine. Worry was a choice that I was making every time I fell into its clutches.
Once I realized that I wasn’t doomed to a lifetime of worry, that I actually had a choice, I decided to make a different one.
But how? How do you change something that you have been doing as long as you can remember?
Here are some things you should know:
- Your worry has never changed the outcome of anything E.V.E.R.
- “Worry is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere.”
- Most of the time you worry needlessly. The thing that you worried so much about never happened. What could you have done with all that time you spent worrying? What could you have accomplished in the world? Imagine if you had that time back.
- In the rare circumstance where the worst did happen, your worry still didn’t change the outcome. If anything it held you back from being present and supportive to the people in the situation that needed you.
- “Worrying is like praying for what you don’t want.”
- Your body registers worry the same way it registers stress. Worry puts your system into fight or flight mode. While this is useful if you happen upon a mountain lion, biologically our bodies are not made to stay in that mode. When we are in fight or flight, the rest of us stops functioning. Our brain doesn’t operate normally, we don’t digest, and our breathing becomes fast and shallow. So if you are always worried, your body can’t operate properly and “worried sick” can become your reality.
When you catch yourself worrying about someone or something, take a step back. Remind yourself that your worry is not going to change anything. All it’s going to do is make you feel bad in the moment. It’s not going to alter the outcome. Also remind yourself that you are not a mystic. You can’t know what is going to happen and your worries are equivalent to you telling yourself a ghost story. You are making things up and scaring yourself.
Instead of that ghost story, what if you turned it around. What if you think about the BEST case scenario? What if the story you tell yourself is that everything is going to be just fine and that it will all work out? How much better would that feel?
Try to practice this week. When you find yourself worrying about something out of your control, turn your thinking around. Tell yourself that everything is going to work itself out. Because it usually does, doesn’t it?
And with that, you can move through your day feeling good, not worried about things that are not yours to figure out.
In order to change your life, you must first change your mind.