Monday, July 1, 2013

Worry: Does it Control You?

“Worrying is like a rocking chair---it keeps you busy, but doesn't get you anywhere.” Actually, this is putting it mildly, because the habit of worrying can really compromise the quality of your life.

Of course, not all fretting is created equal. There are different types and degrees of worry. Some is nagging and annoying, but basically harmless, like when you want to return a package of paper clips to the Dollar Store, but are afraid they won’t honor your receipt because it’s been over 30 days.

Then there’s the haunting kind of worry that convinces you if you don’t monitor and supervise your child’s every move, he won’t live to see another sunrise. That’s extreme worry----worry that’s crossed over into phobia territory, and it’s not good for you or your child.

If you’re not a worrier, I commend you, because it’s truly a feat to live in a world where anything could happen at any moment, and not feel the need to brace yourself, which is one of the functions of worrying: “If I’m cautious and prepared, I’ll be ready...”  But that’s not all that worrying offers. It also says: “I care” (about my husband, my children, my health),  and often, “I’m conscientious and responsible. I take my job as mother very seriously."  (We worriers can be very self-righteous).

But, underneath it all, worry is a spiritual issue. It’s the ego saying: “I don’t trust that there’s a divine order, and I don’t believe that I can handle whatever may happen, so I’d better think and plan and protect and prepare..."

In spite of our arguments, worrying really is like a rocking chair (that keeps you busy but doesn't get you anywhere). Worrying doesn't protect your children, or mean that you care more, or that you’re responsible. Not really, because all of that can be achieved without the low grade, persistent fear that characterizes worry. And not only that, focusing on a feared event can actually draw it to you. Aaack!!!

What to do? I believe the twelve step programs have had it right all along by helping members regain control of their lives by connecting with a Higher Power (than their ego-selves), and then surrendering all concerns and issues to that Higher Power, Higher Self, or God. 

This is a basic spiritual concept that has helped about a gazillion people heal and get back on track with their lives. If it doesn't work the first time, don't despair. Sometimes you have to surrender a hundred times before your little self backs off and starts to release control, but eventually it does work.