I met some very worried people yesterday. Their loved one was being cared for at the hospital ICU, and they felt lost and powerless. Like most people they didn’t want to accept the situation, the feeling of being powerless, nor the not knowing of what to do to fix it, so they felt worried. They had a compulsive need to study everything written about this specific disease they could get their hands on. They quoted statistics of the numbers of people who died of it annually. They recalled stories of real life cases that had gone terribly wrong. It was as if they felt that worry was their obligation, and that everyone involved was required to be thoroughly worried to show that they truly cared.
Most of us have learned that worry is part of love, and that these emotions are intertwined and inseparable. If you love someone you have to worry about him or her. I was taught this too, but I now believe that there is only a nugget of truth in this teaching.
This is how I see worry now. I think that worry is a fear of losing someone or something. It is a fear of change. As you may know, I believe that fear is love, but fear in the form of worry is pretty far removed from love. Worry is a belief that something bad will happen. Worry is a self-centered emotion. My worry is always about my fears, never about the other person I may be worrying about. In reality I am not even caring much about myself, because by putting my attention on something unwanted I am steering life straight towards that unwanted. The only thing that worry has to do with love is that it always comes up with love and caring, never without them. No one worries about things that they do not care about. This is all worry has in common with love. Actually, there is nothing loving in the act of worrying.
Worry is a strong belief that something bad is going to happen to the person we worry about, that they will fail in their endeavours, or worst of all a belief that they are not good enough.
We like to serve our worry for others with them as a main course of worry accompanied by a large side dish of love. This makes it a serving of sugarcoated syrupy shit. Worry is the shit, and love gives it the sticky sugary syrupy quality making it very difficult for the recipient to shake it off. We pour it freely on the people we care about, without realising that this is not a gift – it is a curse.
Some of my friends were worried about me when I started my own business. I noticed that while I normally loved spending time with them, I started feeling reluctant to do so. I felt so bad after meeting them. I was coming up with excuses and getting colds to give me reasons to postpone appointments. Until one day I couldn’t politely avoid a meeting any longer. I returned home sad and defeated, as if I was hunching under some heavy weight. I was unable to shake the heaviness; it was sticking on to me. I discussed it with my coach. Together we dug deeper into the feeling, and it dawned on me: I had received a significant serving of love and worry; a sticky syrupy serving of strong believes that I will fail.
Seeing worry as an act of love has misled us to feel obliged to worry about our parents, spouses, kids and pets, and the future in general. We think worry is preparing us to the challenges of life and making success easier, when in fact it is steering us towards those worst-case scenarios. Worry is a bad habit most of us have without even realising it.
Do you want to shake this bad habit? Then welcome to the recovering worry’ers! Join me in this learning process, I have not stopped worrying completely, but I think it is possible.
First step as a recovering worry’er is to start noticing when you are indulging in worrying. Every time you notice it, you will automatically stop what you are doing. All you need to do it keep on noticing. It really can be that easy – try it!
Worry is not your personal bad habit, you did not create it, nor are you to be blamed for having indulged in it. Your intentions have been good and now you just know better than to worry.
Worry is a bad habit humanity has carried for centuries. It doesn’t take centuries to shake it, but give your-self some time to recover. Be gentle with yourself. Be your own best friend during this process of change. Remember, that in every moment you always have, and still are doing your very best, and that is enough!
One day you will find your worries very funny, and laugh out loud at your own worried thoughts. People around you may think you have lost the plot, but they will be wrong. You have found freedom from worry!