Friday, 2 November 2012

Scratching the surface. About worrying

I have been wanting to start a blog for the longest of times but always something else has come up. Also the threshold of starting has not come any lower, so I just decided to take the plunge.

Life has so much to offer and such interesting things to discover and such endless source of topics to display that portraying my thoughts about all that will probably take me a lifetime, even if I live to be 100+. But it is nice to start scratching the surface.

Of late, I have been trying to learn to live without worrying. It is such an easy thing to write and say but when something unexpected turns up in life the dark ominous clouds start to gather in your mental sky and very soon everything is dark. More clouds gather and light is hard to find at the end of the tunnel.

Through my profession (counselling) I have over the years given others many good advice on how to stop worrying. I have advised people to write down their worries on a paper the way they spring into their minds. No judging, just writing them down. I have also done it myself. With some things you write, you notice as the pen draws the first line that this really is not worth worrying. Like how will the long drive to see a friend go? What if I get a flat tyre. Will something bad happen at home when I am not at home to deal with it? It is almost as if we must have a set of worries to dwell on to feel "safe". As if "a familiar worry a day keeps other far worse worries away"- way of thinking would really help to ward off serious worries and, indeed, keep bad things from happening. We are creatures of habit.

And OK, if that's what it takes to make a person tick, OK, but if it has the opposite effect and it stops you on your tracks something should be done to release the worry. If worrying about how well you will do in the exam you are going to take, will make you work extra hard for it, it will have served its purpose. It will have contributed towards enhancing your performance.

But back to the list. When you have it, start going through it with a pencil and serious thought. Is there something there that you could address immediately or maybe first thing tomorrow? If so, write a date next to it. Your subconscious mind will then see it as being under control. What remains are the issues that should get more attention.

Ask yourself: how likely is it that this thing will happen? How likely is it that you can avoid it by doing something about it? If you are worried about dying one day soon and are a healthy person at the moment, the likelihood is not very high. If you are worried about dying one day, the likelihood is high. We all die. But in the meanwhile we have plenty of time to live and enjoy it. In other words, treat your worries with healthy critisism. Can you stop something from happening just by worrying about it? No sir, you cannot. But you can ruin your present moment by worrying about it. You sure can. Now the question remains: why should you spoil the present with future worries that you cannot do anything about in the first place. And what if things don't go from bad to worse and you will have worried for nothing, wasting your time in dark thoughts instead of enjoying life and its small endearing everyday things? Isn't that a waste of a good NOW? Also living in the future and in the present at the same time is not possible. You must choose.

Worrying about the future also creates patterns that you either knowingly or not tend to follow up with your actions. Why would we want to send ourselves a bad present for our future birthday, so to speak, in the form of negative thoughts, which is what worries are.

The present. That is where we are right now. If we constantly worry about things of the past and feel sorry for ourselves for something that happened ten or more years ago, which we cannot change no matter what, we are spending most of our time in the past and will thus be conspiciously missing from this moment. Other people will probably have already commented on your absence, if you think about it.

Most of the time, if not always, worrying is a waste of time, money and energy. It also distracts us from the good things that are happening in front of our very eyes. Worry about your child getting some awful disease, which might not ever happen, and you miss her/his smile and laughter in this moment.

Worrying is associated with negative thoughts. You don't worry about winning the lottery, do you?
So what I do to get rid of these thoughts, is that I build myself a mental image of all my negative thoughts and worries - and oh boy, is it ever a frighteningly large image! When it is there in front of my mind's eyes, I destroy it with any means that seem fit at the moment. Burning the image works for me. Fire seems to be a cleansing concept in my mind. Then I remind myself that I am in control of my thoughts, not vice versa. Thus I can redirect my thoughts onto a happier track and build myself a postive image of everything past, present or future.

It sounds so easy. I know. But at least for me a lot of "burning" is needed but I know I am better off going to the right direction. So you see, just knowing how things should be dealt with does not necessarily mean that it is all plain sailing. Only maybe a bit easir because the set of trusted tools is there, but it still is an effort.

Worried about how you look - worried people are never good looking or beautiful.
Worried about losing - take the time enjoy what you have, otherwise it will truly be lost.
Worried about your children - notice them laughing, smiling, enjoy them now the way they are.
Worried about the future - do you know of somebody who can totally control it. I don't.
Worried about the past - what ever you do, it will always be out of your reach. All you can do
is change your own attitude towards it. Leave it be. It made you the
person you are.
Worried about illness - enjoy your health and take care of it. Nobody knows what is going to
happen. We are all in it together. Strength in numbers?
Worried about dying - we all will when the time comes. Worrying won't change it.
Worried about money - nobody has ever made a buck by worrying, so make better use of you
time and that could actually make you some money.

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