The Worrier Wises Up — 3 Ways to Let Go Of Worries
As many of you know, I have begun asking myself recently, what it really means to be “50 and Wiser.” True, it is a really cute phrase. And it is preferable, at least in my book, to “crone,” or “senior,” or even “women 50 and above.”
Hindsight is Brilliant, Isn’t It?
Hindsight has been somewhat helpful. I started out this journey at 50, just remarried with my two kids transitioning between high school and college. My husband, Bob, who was five years younger than me – I don’t think that qualifies me as a ‘cougar’ – had two boys who were still in high school.
My first agenda, was getting out of pain. I interpreted that as “fixing” the broken parts of my body – my tension headaches, my frozen shoulder, and my low back pain. I wasn’t quite sure what to do about the Tri-Geminal Neuralgia. And since the neurologists were shrugging their shoulders about it, I figured that a solution to that problem would have to wait.
The Control-Freak Gets Underway
Until recently, I thought these problems were strictly physical and that yoga, along with physical therapy, could fix them. And since I was a “fix-it” kind of gal – read control freak here – I was pretty sure that once I set my mind to it, I could find a solution to the problems with my body.
But I went to a talk two weeks ago that showed me how far I have come in my thinking. The talk was by a woman named Ruchi Koval, a personal development coach, blogger and Jewish spiritual leader from Cleveland. The title was what attracted me to the talk: “Cure Worry for Good.”
That, as my grandfather would say, was a doozy of a title. And it spoke to me, because I knew that in spite of my control-freak assertiveness about most things in my life, I knew, deep down, that there was a lot of worrying going on.
Why Worry Winds Itself Around Us
Here’s three of key strategies I learned from Ruchi:
1. There is a God and You Are Not It.
We know that worrying can literally make you sick. Worrying about your own stuff is just plain a bad idea. Send your worries to the heavens. As some say, “Let go and Let God.”
Famous writing teacher Annie Lamott says. Very simply religion teaches us two things: 1) There is a God, and 2) You’re not it. (I don’t know about you, but that was big news to me.)
Whether or not you believe in God in the same way Ruchi does, I love the idea of handing off my worries to some other entity.
She suggested a bed-time prayer in which you feel your body relaxing in bed and three times you say to yourself, “I put my problems in the hands of God/or substitute whatever higher power works for you!”
2) Create A Worry Tree.
Worry, Ruchi explained, is the inability to enjoy the moment because we are worrying about the future. The past no longer exists and the future isn’t here yet. The present is the blink of an eye. All we really have is the present. (This is not only a Buddhist idea).
Things that are not familiar to us make us worry. The things we know for sure are much more powerful that those things that we don’t know. And we hold onto things that have happened in the past or what might happen in the future. We know that through cognitive behavior therapy we can rewire the brain.
Ruchi told the story of a carpenter who has a bad day. Imagine a tree that stands outside your house or apartment. Can you name this tree your “worry tree.” Each time you walk by it when you leave home or when you return, hang your worries on that tree and enter your home a little lighter with a bit more of a spring in your step.
I’ve been doing this and I must say, it has lightened my step a bit.
3) Turn the word worry into curiosity.
Rather than assume that what you are worrying about is a fact, explore the situation. Ask yourself why? And keep asking. A lot of worries are born from assumptions we make. Perhaps the picture you have in your mind is not at all what happened or what others intended.
The science of neuroplasticity teaches that we can re-wire our brains and shift the cast we put on our memories of past experiences or our fears about the future.
I have begun to work on this with memories of professional experiences that I have thought of as shameful or as failures. With a touch of self-compassion, I have gently begun to ask myself how else I could see these experiences.
And, another suggestion from Ruchi: Create best case scenarios and worst-case scenarios. What is the worst thing that can happen? I have found this to be very helpful.
What has worked for you?
Please share your responses to this piece and strategies that have worked for you!
Love and Gratitude,
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