Hey there! How’re you doing?
Our next element of present moment awareness is worry.
I want to acknowledge up front that there are many different forms of worry and anxiety, and I’m no professional. What we’re talking about today isn’t clinical anxiety or medical treatments, but hopefully ideas that can help us to work through some of our struggles.
Struggles that we all share.
Clock our time
Yesterday, we introduced Eckhart Tolle’s idea of psychological time and clock time. Very briefly! Let’s talk some more—
Psychological time is the time that involves a lot of thought—about the past and future.
How much time do you spend there?
For me, it’s way too much. Time spent thinking about past situations and what I could have said, how I could have acted differently. Time pondering the future—fantasising about what it might bring, worrying what it might bring.
The important thing to understand about worry is that it’s only ever for the future unknown. We worry now, but it’s not worry for the moment we’re in, because when we’re in it—we’re doing it, we’re dealing with it, we’re not worrying about it. It’s not unknown anymore.
So, worry is only ever for the future unknown—and, at the time of our worry, we don’t even know if what we’re worrying about is ever going to happen, right?
There was a study done at Harvard that found we spend 47% of our time lost in thought—now, obviously we live our entire lives in our minds, but they’re talking lost in thought.
Thoughts of the past that’s already been.
Future situations that may never be.
And negative self talk, which we’ll get to in an upcoming post.
Clock time, on the other hand, is how we manage our time. How we use it, instead of the other way around—it’s also about learning from the past and setting goals for the future. But, in the now.
So, how do we know if we’re utilising clock time in the right way or falling into psychological time?
If we’re dwelling in the past, instead of learning from it—psych time.
If we’re obsessing about the future, instead of using it as motivation for our current actions—psych time!
Flipping the switch
Remember, today is the tomorrow that you were worried about yesterday.
~ Dale Carnegie
I love this quote. If we think about all the challenges we’ve overcome in our ‘todays’—they were all things that we worried about yesterday for tomorrow, and we got through them, right?
Or they were things that we never worried about and they just happened and we dealt with them!
We’re here now.
When we boil it down, worry is fear and fear is expectation.
Deepak Chopra explains that if we fear failure or pain, we’re expecting failure or pain. If we don’t expect it, what’s to fear, right? Fear comes from the unknown, from self-doubt.
Doubt. Fear. Worry. They all start in our minds, but they’re based on external influences and they radiate outward to affect our daily actions.
But, like we talked about yesterday—breath brings us inward, an internal influence.
As we’ll talk about tomorrow—focus brings us inward.
So, if the outward journey is full of doubt, worry, and fear, the opposite must be true of the inward—
Belief. Contentment. Courage.
Focusing inward doesn’t mean self-obsession or ego—it doesn’t mean shut out the world, isolate ourselves and live like monks (no disrespect!).
Focusing inward means taking our strength from within, not looking at those external influences—those doubts and fears and worries, and letting them dictate who we are.
We are not them.
Make the Now the primary focus of your life. Whereas before you dwelt in time and paid brief visits to the Now, have your dwelling place in the Now and pay brief visits to past and future when required to deal with the practical aspects of your life situation.
~ Eckhart Tolle
Courage to shine
We’re missing so many steps here because this topic could actually take a month of Sundays! But, the key to trying to overcome worry is really rooted in that difference between psych and clock time.
Learning, not dwelling—motivation, not obsession.
The best chance to be whole is to love whatever gets in the way, until it ceases to be an obstacle.
~ Mark Nepo
There are a few different strategies we can try to overcome our doubts and worries—
We can do as Mark Nepo says and love them. Love our worries and Worry’ll be like “huh, what’s going on here? You lovin’ me? That’s a worry.” Worry be worryin’!
We can study our worries and learn everything we can about them. Ask all the questions—”why, Worry? What’s your purpose? How are you serving me?” Worries are unknown beasts, so if we set out to know everything about them, they can’t be worrying anymore. We can school them worries!
We can practice tough (but kind) love. The brutal, honest truth about our insecurities is that they’re not special. Everyone, everyone has them. They’re actually really boring. We can get defensive and say “hey, this is my life here. My doubts are real and they’re hard,” and that’ll be true. But, they’re still not cool. And we can learn to deal with them by saying “sorry, Worry. Thanks for your concern, but you’re just not special enough for me.”
We can share them. Tell our friends and families about them. Either, when we say them out loud, we’ll realise they’re not as worrying as they sound in our heads or we’ll have others to help us through. We are not alone in our worries. Ever.
We can practice gratitude. Every time we feel our heart start to pound, a worrying thought coming on—stop. Breathe. Say “thank you, Worry, but that’s enough now. I got this.” Make it your mantra—thank you, I got this.
We can trust. We can trust that everything happens for a reason and we won’t get thrown anything we can’t handle. We’ll face it and learn from it and grow on.
We can look inward.
Because that’s where the belief and content and courage are.
Write down all your worries, really get them out of your mind and on to the page.
When you start to explore them, you’ll see the big things and the little things—the little things will look and sound ridiculous, so cross them out. Then the big things won’t actually be so big, because they don’t have the little things in comparison to make them seem bigger than they are! And, there’ll be less of them, so manageable.
Have a good look at those worries and what strategies you think could work for you. Try some on for size. Write your own mantra. Love them, thank them, school them.
Then, spend a few moments ripping that worry page to shreds. Really tear it up, until you can’t read those worries anymore. I want to say bin it! But, put it in the recycling—just the paper, not the worries (they definitely don’t need to be recycled!).
We’re in control here, not our thoughts, not our worries.
Especially not our worries.
Side note—I don’t need to see your worry page for the project. Just write your general reflections, as you’ve been doing for the previous posts. What does this all mean to you? Any aha! moments? Or ah no moments?!
Over the next couple of days, we’re going to talk about focus and kindness—all this space that old Worry will leave behind will be put to use by focusing on what’s really important and being kind to our beautiful, capable, awesome selves.
Enjoy your day.
PS There are so many ways to deal with worry that I’d never thought about before—whether they all work or not, it’s comforting to realise that there’s always something we can do.
PPS You know how, when you say a word over and over again, it starts to sound really weird? I’ve said worry so many times in this post, it’s sounding really weird!