Studies show that 85% of what we worry about never happens. So why do we even bother worrying at all? Perhaps it’s because we think worrying about something will make it better, but it never does. In fact, all worrying ever does for us is create stress, anxiety and poor health.
Worrying has been shown to have adverse effects on appetite, relationships, sleep, and job performance.
Many people are aware of the term “worry wart” to denote someone who creates a lot of bother for themselves and others worrying over this and that. But, worrying is really nothing more than a waste of valuable time and energy.
It’s obvious that worrying doesn’t provide much benefit to us, if anything at all.
When we worry we become worst-case scenario and “doom and gloom” experts, as if those are the only possible outcomes, but this isn’t true at all. Every event has a variety of possible outcomes, perceptions and interpretations depending on the receiving person’s point of view. That point of view is determined by a number of factors, namely training and then experience. Let me show you the training side of this issue. Every day has 86,400 seconds in it and on average we have approximately 65,000 thoughts.
Furthermore, of those 65,000 thoughts, approximately 45,000 are negative. It makes me tired to think about all of the thinking we do. But, most of us aren’t born with a negative point of view, we are taught this. And since we are taught this point of view, we can change it.
From a perspective of experience, we have all perceived events in our lives as negative, neutral or positive. For example, one person may see a rainy day as a “bad” day, while others see the rain as romantic and peaceful. The truth is the rain is the rain. Each person sees what they want to see in it. So even though one person hates the rain, the possibility that the rain is romantic and peaceful also exists. Other perceptions and interpretations are available to us as well. The possibilities are endless. There isn’t just one way to view an event and no one is right or wrong in their view.
What other factors contribute to the life stealing perspective of worrying? There are many, but one of those is definitely our ego and it is easy to see why when you understand the ego a little more.
The Ego Has Landed
Many of us don’t realize that the majority of our thoughts are churned out by our egos and the ego is the king of negativity. As noted above, approximately 65 .¨ 70% of our thoughts are negative. That makes it pretty easy to think about what can go wrong. But, there is more to the ego than meets the eye.
Our egos were built on misperceptions, false pretenses and illusions taught to us by those who were with us as we were growing up. When we are taught to see the world through these filters, we live life on rocky ground, to say the least. The fact is that most of our thoughts are just other people’s perspectives about life. If our parents or caregivers felt uneasy and undervalued, we most likely feel uneasy and undervalued. If we were raised in a family that thought communicating meant yelling and screaming, we probably do a lot of yelling and screaming as an adult.
So much of our life is filled with confusion and fear as the rug gets pulled out from under us constantly. But, who is pulling the rug? Our own egos. The ego knows nothing so it makes up everything. Within that operating system, anything can change from one moment to the next. It feels unsafe and unreliable. It’s no wonder that we worry about negative outcomes. How can we feel certain and positive about anything with the egoic system as our operating program for life? It’s a tall order, but we can overcome and change this.
Adrenals and Anxiety
A little anxiety is a natural part of our built-in protection called the fight or flight system. When we are faced with stressful situations that could cause us physical harm or death, the adrenal glands work with the pituitary gland to pump energy into our bodies to give us what we need to fight or run for our lives. The issue is that most of us are not truly being threatened at this level on a daily basis. In fact, many of us rarely face physical harm or life and death situations throughout our lives. These scenarios are just playing out in our heads and we believe the thoughts even though nothing is really happening.
Made up scenarios that create fear and continue to pile up in our minds tend to make us anxious. Unresolved anxiety can then lead to panic as we allow our negative thoughts to run wild. But, the reality is that the story of doom and gloom our thoughts are telling us about isn’t taking place. They are only thoughts. This is all worry is .¨ just thoughts.
When we are worrying, we are not in the present moment. We are in the past or the future.
We may be sitting somewhere warm and peaceful, but our thoughts race out of control with worry so we feel sweaty, uneasy and nervous. How can we change this to work in our favor? We can become aware of this pattern and say “STOP”. Take a deep breath and look around. Is what we are worrying about really happening? If not, let it go. Come back to reality .¨ the present moment. You will find this is a place of less stress and less anxiety. Instead, you get more peace and improved health!
In the present moment, you can slow down, rest easy and see reality more clearly. Today, most of us are moving faster than the speed of light trying to keep up or get ahead of something. But, the faster we move, the less we see. Life becomes a blur and that blur can create worry.
We live life in the fast lane always trying to do more with less time. The fast pace of our lives is part of what creates so much worry. How can we possibly be expected to keep all of the balls in the air all of the time?
We stress ourselves to the max trying to be good enough, meet all of our goals or sometimes just keep up. It’s not worth it though since stress is a major cause of illness. Stress can also lead to increased worrying about life since stress always creates misperceptions about what is truly happening. If we reduce our stress we can reduce our incidence of worrying.
Properly handling or managing our stress can make all the difference in the world. We fill our online calendars and appointment books with things to do, but we rarely set appointments for “free time” or “down time”.
Properly managing stress with quiet time, meditation, exercise, organic whole foods and good sleep will go a long way to prevent the old pattern of worrying.
This week, try something different. Plug in an appointment for relaxation and unplug from the world. Practice de-stressing for just a half an hour a day, letting go of all worries at the same time. You can take a stroll in a park, go to the zoo, sit on the beach listening to the ocean or spend 30 minutes doing yoga. You don’t have to spend a lot of time, but you have to promise to stop worrying during that time. See how much better you feel. Practice trusting that everything will be okay.
Stop Worrying and Start Living Today
We don’t always have control over the events in our lives .¨ when, how, where and why they occur – but for every event that occurs we have the choice of how to respond and how our life is ultimately affected by them. We can react with dread and worry, making the situation worse for us and others or we can choose to see an event as inspiring, happy and positive. This is the power we have to change our lives for the better. This is the power we have to break old habits and stop perpetuating insane thinking patterns. We can align our thoughts and perspectives with what serves our soul’s purpose and our highest good on a more regular basis. It just takes awareness, choice and then practice.
The ability to choose how you want to perceive and experience an event has always been within your power, no matter what you have been taught. With this knowledge, life quickly becomes interesting because you realize that you have the power to shape your reality through your thoughts and perceptions. You can let go of old patterns of worry knowing it doesn’t help you or anyone else. You can allow things to happen as they will and then choose to respond in a manner that works in your favor. It’s not something we are taught, but it is available to us. Try it today.
Practice Point: Think of one thing you have been worrying about and write it on a piece of paper. Make two columns under the item. Under the left column, write down the negative outcomes you are fretting over. Under the right column, write the opposite, positive outcomes. Take a look at your paper realizing that the right column is just as possible as the left column. Now, choose something from the right column and apply that to your worry item. Let go of the old and let the new shine through. Feel the relief. You deserve it!