4 ways to turn worry to your advantage
I know worry. For the most part, my days are spent in a state of contentment and ease (or, if times are challenging, in a state of faithful determination). But there are times in my life when my chest flushes with a searing hot anxiety; when my body tingles with acute nervousness and my thoughts spiral in a relentless dance of doubt and uncertainty.
Worry comes to me when I am feeling out of my depth, out of control, unprepared and ill-informed. It almost inevitably arises when I am stepping into my discomfort zone and/or when I am unable to manipulate the outcome. Worry consumes me when I am at my most vulnerable.
Worry is a premature reaction to an imagined scenario
I often say “worry is a premature reaction to an imagined scenario”. Its most harmful quality is that it places all our energy and focus on some undefined situation, some-when in the future. It leaves us very little of ourselves to capture, enjoy or even endure the present moment.
Worry is unpleasant and disruptive … but it is not, as many people describe, a waste of energy. Nature does not waste energy. If you are worrying, there is a purpose to it. And, therefore, there is a way to turn your worrying into a positive and progressive experience.
Below are four questions that can help you understand the purpose behind your worry : what is it revealing to you, and what is it asking you to do?
What are my unconscious beliefs about the world? Worry can reveal to you the patterns of your unconscious mind; beliefs that you formed as a young child about yourself, your world and how you expect life to unfold. Because these patterns are usually … well … unconscious, they hold a lot of power over us. Worry enables us to see what these beliefs are: in the absence of a clear outcome, our brain reverts to these well-worn ‘default’ patterns.
For me, worry is always deeply entwined with the fear of other people letting me down, taking advantage of me, or abandoning me. In situations where there is no clear understanding of others’ motives, my mind reverts to my childhood experience when I was often left without allies and felt I was the only person truly looking out for me. My worry stems from imagined scenarios, based on the fear of this occurring again.
By revealing to ourselves what we are most worried about, we are able to understand our ingrained fears and beliefs. Then, we can begin to carefully and consciously coach ourselves to believe differently.
Worry doesn’t mean that you won’t be successful, or reach your goal, or have what you desire.
What are my expectations about this situation? It is human nature to project forward into the future — our minds love nothing more than to feel in control of life, the uncontrollable. At some point, as we make plans and take action, we create assumptions and expectations about how things will unfold. Either unconsciously or consciously, we decide what we think “success” will look like. Of course, life is a intricate dance of people and events and there is no way we can ever really know what is around the corner. Your expectations — no matter how desirable — do not reflect the reality of the situation (and never have!).
When you are in a state of worry, understand that you will have formed imaginings about this situation and how it is “supposed to” play out. Worry doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t be successful, or reach your goal, or have what you desire. It can arise simply because life (as it is wont to do) has veered off the path we expected. Simply put, it may be that there is nothing “wrong” with the situation at all — it’s just unfolding in an unexpected and/or uncontrollable way.
What action can I take now to help resolve this uncertainty? Uncertainty is the cornerstone of worry; we imagine a future scenario that is unpleasant but, because it is not in our present moment, we are unable to take action on that scenario. We build up anxious energy, but are unable to focus that energy into any tangible or productive actions. If you are worrying, now is not the time for procrastination. Take any action you can now to bring some form of resolution to the matter, or turn the situation into something positive and productive.
You are strong, resilient and capable enough to handle any situation. So, don’t let uncertainty gnaw at you longer than it has to — have the conversation, find the answers, confront the people involved … and facilitate as many certainties as you possibly can.
What alternative future can I imagine for myself? Of course, the outcome of a worrying situation can sometimes be completely out of your control. But if you are going to expend your energy on some imagined future (which is what you do when you worry), you might as well choose to imagine a magical future where everything miraculously turns out fine. Almost inevitably, there will come a point of certainty — of conclusion, choice or confrontation — in any uncertain situation. And in that moment (pleasant or unpleasant) you will have all you need to deal with the outcome. Until then, the future is just a possibility. Own that truth and let your imagined future be as rosy as you desire.
Vitally, in the process of imaging a positive outcome, you open yourself to more inspired and creative solutions, and instruct your unconscious mind to make the healthiest choices possible to lead you in your imagined direction — toward the most positive outcome.
Kim Forrester is an award-winning author, educator and intuitive consultant with over 15 years’ experience as a professional intuitive and spiritual teacher. She combines cutting edge science with traditional spirituality to offer the latest understandings of psi, consciousness and holistic well being.