“Don’t worry about a thing, ‘cause every little thing’s gonna be alright...” Bob Marley
The rhythm makes you sway, and the beat, like a magnet, pulls you in to sing along. Mr. Marley’s song not only makes you feel good, but the message is of utmost importance.
Part of the human condition is to experience an array of emotions, both negative and positive. Emotions are an instinctive and automatic response of the mind, body, and soul, which serve the purpose to inform and alert you of alignment and/or misalignment through life experiences. As you feel your way through life, you may experience emotions like worry.
Worry stems from anxiety or anticipation of an imagined or real issue to occur in the future. This natural response to potential future concerns can be from your own personal beliefs, learned patterns or behaviors from past experiences, or simply a subconscious response. Worry can arise in various areas of your life from finances, relationships, health concerns, and a multitude of other areas in between. This emotion may sometimes feel heightened, and other times subdued. Nevertheless, worry is a response to the unknown. When you don’t know what to expect, you begin troubleshooting the potential scenarios.
This troubleshooting is part of your brain's “hard drive” that has been hardwired to result in the emotional response of worry. As you recognize the presence of worry in your life, you have the unique opportunity to rewire your brain's hard drive over time to worry less. This is called neuroplasticity.
Neuroplasticity can be viewed as a general umbrella term that refers to the brain's ability to modify, change, and adapt both structure and function throughout life and in response to experience.
There are innumerable tools that support rewiring the brain and ultimately improve your stress levels. However, I’d like to personally share one of my favorite tools to proactively address the worry in the moment, so that with practice, the worry response is lessened and over time, practically obsolete.
An Exercise on How to Worry Less
First, you must catch the Worry to name and address it. It is helpful to know your historic worry points, triggers, and even the symptoms of worry in this case.
- For example, if you worry about having enough financially to provide for your family, then a trigger point may be when your mortgage payment is due or an unexpected financial emergency arises. A symptom of this trigger may be that you over-analyze your household budget, and you may notice tension in your chest and a headache coming on.
Secondly, use your imagination and be an observer of yourself. When the trigger or symptoms become noticeable, invite yourself to take a visit with the worry through your imagination.
- Imagine that you are in your favorite spot or a safe, serene space. This can be on the beach with the waves crashing or in your bedroom under the covers; wherever you feel the safest and most secure.
- Imagine that Worry takes shape as yourself. He or she may be older or younger, taller or shorter. Let Worry show up as needed. You may hear lots of chatter. See your Worry self as very jittery or that there is something important being shown to you. Just observe in your imaginary space what Worry brings to you through your senses.
Feel free to infuse some light-heartedness into this exercise by renaming your worry. I call my worry self, Diva, which makes me laugh when I invite her in to visit.
Lastly, thank and explore worry. Extend gratitude for the worry showing up. Worry often offers protection and insight into misalignments. Once you thank Worry, simply begin to explore through questions (no question is off-limits, so get curious and let Worry teach you how to worry less):
- What am I really worried about?
- Why is this important to me?
- How can I surrender and trust?
Over time and with continued practice, the worry, like the rhythm of Mr. Marley’s song, will flow. And like the beat, the desired un-worry remains unchanged.
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