The short answer is yes. At some time or other we all worry about something. However, some people take it to an extreme where it controls their life and becomes the center of their daily thoughts. Many hear themselves asking “what if…happens?” If you worry too much it will have a negative effect on your physical, mental and spiritual life. Excessive worrying stimulates feelings of nervousness or anxiety. The brain then sends chemicals through your body that creates tightening of muscles, increased heart rate, increase in blood pressure etc. If the muscles of your neck get tight, you experience headaches. If the muscles of your back get tense, you experience backaches. If the muscles of your stomach get tense, you experience digestive problems, and so on. And, of course with the mind busy worrying, sleep becomes a problem. You can easily find a medicine for every condition listed above. Too many people have learned to depend on medicine try to make them feel more comfortable, however, every medicine that does one thing good as many undesirable side effects. Since thoughts create feelings, and feelings create behaviors, worrying creates overeating, over drinking, and all the problems that is created by those problems.
Many people believe if they don’t worry and something happens they will be unprepared. Others believe if they don’t worry, something awful will happen. Some believe that if they enjoy themselves and feel happy, it won’t last long anyway. I have had many clients tell me that their mothers were worriers and that’s what they learned to do. The good news is that anything that is learned can be relearned in a better way. Worrying can be contagious so avoid people who try to spread negative worry.
Worry is not about what is happening now, it is always about the future. Since most of us cannot predict the future, we have clear choices. We can realize that the present has no danger and therefore be in the moment and enjoy it. We can change the way we look at something and we will change the way we feel about it. A good example of this is being in an unhealthy relationship. We worry that if it ends “I will be alone,” but instead we can think “if it ends, I can be free to find a healthy relationship and that being alone is better than being unhappy.” Another example is being out of work looking for a job. Some may worry that “I may never find a job.” Instead we can think, “there are so many jobs out there, I will definitely find one that is right for me.” Both positions may be right but one makes you feel awful and hopeless while the other one makes you feel empowered and optimistic. Which would you choose.
I have a client that is so angry at her husband because he doesn’t take care of his health. I suggested she focus on loving and enjoying him now because no one knows what tomorrow can bring. Her response was, “that’s going to be hard!” My response to her was, “what if you’re wrong?” What if it is not hard and, if it is hard, do it anyway.” Hard doesn’t make it impossible, just more of a challenge. Living with worry is hard!!
If you want to stop worrying, here are a few tips from the experts: Dale Carnegie, from his book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living: “First ask yourself: What is the worst thing that could happen? Then prepare to accept it. Then proceed to improve on the worst.” Realize that you will handle whatever comes whether you worry about it or not. From Eckart Tolle’s The Power of Now, is to remind oneself to be in “the present moment.” The idea is that the negative thought process generated by the ego in the mind, can only exist in the past or the future. By reminding ourselves to be in the present moment, that negative thought process cannot affect us.
Learn to eliminate the “what if” pattern and replace it with strategies for solutions and then, let it go! You will probably never even need those strategies, but they are already in place.
Learn to take slow deep breaths often and focus on the blessings in your life. Focus on what you have not to be grateful for and realize you are happy now and enjoy that feeling NOW!