Worry because you care? Not so. It's because you're chicken. Blasphemy I know. But once the offense settles, let me explain. Worrying is part of all of us, but what’s it worth? I worry every time my husband gets on the 405, every time it's tax season, every time I sign a new client in hopes that I will serve them the way they need. I ate a whole baguette for dinner last night. I woke up still worrying and peeved about carb levels.
What’s all the worry got me? Nothing positive.
Worry, dressed up fancy in a slimy suit, is really just a thief in the night stealing your brain’s resources (worry usually surrounds an event of the future (out of your control), an event of the past (out of your control), or just “an event out of your control”). It’s framed as extremely noble, which is the tricky part, but it’s nothing more than procrastination/fear/avoidance.
Ouch, I’m sorry, but think of it this way:
What happens is you conveniently let worry prevent you from doing anything. Anything. I don’t just mean action towards whatever it is you are worried about, I mean any kind of action or thought that would have a positive impact on any part of your life. You miss out on The Power of Now. That’s what worry steals: time, you worry the time away instead of using it. The end product of worrying is procrastination: Putting off what it takes to get to the better version of you. Because 'better you' is a stretch beyond the you of today, it takes action (usually towards something scary, new, and subconsciously avoided) to get to ‘better you’. You’ve succeeded in justifying to your brain that you had no time to take action because “you were too busy worrying about whatever”. Justifiable because we hold worry in very high regard. Worried about sales this quarter, worried about the deadline, worried about the kids making right choices. Lots of energy tied up in worry that emotionally charged. ROI for all that energy expended on worry: zero. Really, pause to think about what you achieve with all the worry. If this was a new operating procedure at work, it would immediately be casted out as useless.
Acknowledge your worry. That’s it. Then what?
Learn what it is to live in the present.
Why do you think mindfulness has reinserted itself into our modern lives? It’s not because it’s offbeat and only a select few are “in the know”; it’s because it’s a way to reach your power. If you are feeling powerless and trapped, it’s because you are wasting your brain’s resources and your time on worry and doubt (we'll get to doubt another day). Mindfulness isn’t just about being really into your morning coffee: the smell permeating your home, how the warm mug feels in your hand, or the bubbles it makes when it’s poured after a fresh brew. That’s just a practice regimen of being mindful! When worry creeps in, mindfulness can squeeze it out with awareness of the present.
"Mindfulness isn't difficult. What's difficult, is to remember to be mindful." - John Teasdale
Mindfulness is a way of living effectively and purposefully. Being effective takes practice. Which is why you practice with your cup of coffee, your breath, your afternoon walk (notice the birds and the bees, don’t arrive back home realizing you missed what you just saw/experienced). There are many reasons mindfulness is sworn by, it’s available to all of us and it’s effects are profound. On the surface it’s easy, it just takes being human. But in reality, it’s difficult to embrace all the time. That’s why you must be aware of your habits and thought patterns. Recognize you are endangering your mindset and impact when submitting to worry, then shift into being fruitful.
Mindfulness requires using the areas of the brain that control decision making, which in itself provides practice and training at being mindful. It provides the power of “being in the moment”. When faced with a difficult decision, you and your brain have access to the parts that refocus resources, THINK, and thoughtfully respond. Pair this skill with your instinctual "trust your gut" skill of decision-making, and you have a very deep toolkit at your disposal. Harnessing the power of both of these abilities will separate you from the herd. Instead of being immediately reactive, you are inwardly reflective, all within a moment. You are able to calm your thoughts and have clearer thinking at your fingertips.
Simplistic beginnings, big payoffs.