Worry is a Choice

Lisa Kaplin writes an amazing blog about leadership, happiness, parenting, relationships, and so much more.  I always learn something new, or see a new perspective.  If you haven’t read her blog before, I highly encourage you to follow this link and give her post, Worry isn’t Love a read.  Lisa’s posts are always brief & uplifting. I thought this passage was particularly brilliant:

“Love, at least to me, is unconditional listening, being fully present, and holding space for the other person. It’s focusing on them, not what I feel when I’m around them. Love is both giving and receiving of unconditional caring and space. None of that sounds like worry to me.”

So if worry does not show love, what does worry do?  What are we getting from worry?  

The voice of worry often arises when something unwanted happens.  We don’t want it to happen again, so a “watcher” arises inside us to watch for any evidence that danger may be approaching.  With our “watcher” on duty, we may feel more secure because we feel that we’ll see the danger coming and be able to avoid it.

Originally we were getting protection or security from the watcher, but now we’re just getting anxiety from constant worry. 

Our worry voice is not trying to make us crazy at 3am, it’s just trying to do it’s job of protecting us, albeit more aggressively than necessary.  All of this can be exhausting!

But what if I told you that worry is a choice?

I know.  Some of you just shut your computer off convinced I am crazy.  Some of you are laughing out loud.  But some of you are going, “Wait. What? I can choose NOT to worry?!”

If our “worry voice” arose to protect us, and made us feel more secure, it makes complete sense that we would choose worry again and again.  We found comfort there – a long time ago.  Now we just choose worry because it’s the familiar, well-worn path that our mind wanders without thinking about where we’re going.

Constant worry is heavy, so if we’d like to set it down in favor of lighter emotions, we need to catch ourselves in the act.  We need to cultivate AWARENESS.  We want to become aware of WHEN we have anxious thoughts, because that is the only moment we could choose something else.  The best way to be aware when worry has arisen, is to first become aware of how YOU feel physically when you have worrisome thoughts.

This can be different for each of us!  Just because anxiety feels like a twist in my solar plexus, doesn’t mean that you and your body experience it that way.  For this reason, I encourage my clients to write down how THEIR BODY feels when they are worried.

Examples might include a twist in the solar plexus, hot cheeks, shaking limbs, sweaty palms, a combination of any of these and others.  Whatever it is for you, catalog the physical vibrations when you “feel” worried.  

Once we define what ‘worried’ feels like to us as individuals, it becomes easy to recognize when those physical vibrations/symptoms begin.  That moment we recognize that physical symptoms of worry are present triggers our awareness that “THIS” is our moment to choose.

Once we are aware, we can choose.
We get to choose worry, or choose something new.

In next week’s blog post, we’ll talk about taking back our power to choose in that magical moment of awareness.

Grow on!

Name the emotion you feel. (Happy, sad, worried, anxious, excited, etc…)
Write down the vibrations you feel in your body when you experience the emotion.
If you can, write down the thought(s) you were thinking directly before you became aware of the vibrations of that emotion.

It’s totally fine to write down the physical vibrations you feel first, and then name the emotion. It’s easier that way for some people.