WHAT DOES THE WORD ‘WORRY’ MEAN TO YOU? How does it differ from ‘anxiety’ or ‘thinking’ or ‘rumination’? Sure there are formal definitions, but we all have slightly different ideas of what each of these words mean.
I had a conversation with my partner the other day, in which I said something like: ‘…I don’t really worry much, though.’
He paused, looked over at me, and said: ‘You’re kidding, right!?’ Somewhat incredulously, with a smile breaking into a laugh.
He was teasing me, but it sparked SOME CONTEMPLATION ABOUT MY OWN JOURNEY WITH WORRY. I contemplated the incongruence of how I felt and what he seemed to observe.
~ I thought about how much I USED to worry, feel anxious, be consumed by fears of what others thought – so much more than I do now. I let ‘what ifs’ distract me to no end, and harboured daily fear of outcomes.
~ I considered how much I’ve changed: how much LESS I have such concerns, how much MORE I trust that things are just working out as they’re meant to – and how much peace such trust has brought me.
~ I also reflected on the fact that we are rarely ever 100% full of concern about everything nor 0% concern for anything. Like most things, each of us are somewhere on a continuum – concerned more or less about different things in our lives at different times depending on what’s going on for us.
~ I thought about the word ‘worry’ itself and how – for several years now – I’ve intentionally avoided using it as much as possible, having found that it carries a heavy ‘energy’ or feeling to it. I tend to swap it out for the word ‘concern’ which has a similar meaning but feels a little lighter – at least to me.
~ I pondered how – as much as we might try to curb our worrying and increase our trust in things working out – I’d go so far as to say it’s NECESSARY to harbour some concerns in this life here on earth. It keeps us caring and careful – about our safety, about others and the world around us. But like anything, it’s when concerns become extreme one way or the other – an imbalance of too much fear or too little care – that things might be problematic.
~ I acknowledged that the mind’s nature is to stay busy. I thought perhaps ‘ruminate’ or ‘analyze’ would be better words than ‘worry’ for what I do (at least they’re words I’d prefer to use) but all the same – no matter what word we use it can be overly consuming and create imbalance if not kept in check.
BRINGING OURSELVES BACK TO THE PRESENT MOMENT IS AN ANTIDOTE TO WORRY.
~ Concern and worry are usually steeped in thoughts about the future (possible outcomes) but they also dip into the past (what might yet happen as a result of what’s already happened in the past).
~ One can’t think about the future or past when one is purely focused on right now. But we also can’t expect ourselves to NEVER again think of the future or past. It’s necessary to both reflect back and look forward in order to survive.
~ It takes practice to continue to bring ourselves back to the present moment, but doing so helps to release the rumination and worry, little by little – to help us get back into a healthy balance.
WORRY, CONCERN, FEAR, AND ANXIETY ARE VERY MUCH ‘INDOOR SPORTS,’ aren’t they? It can be a well-kept secret deep within ourselves – the amount of concern we harbour about certain things.
~ Our face and demeanor might be portraying calmness, but inside we might be losing it with anxiety.
~ The opposite is also true: calmness that we feel within ourselves might be largely an inside job, and outwardly we may NOT seem much different to an observer.
As I return to my partner’s teasing, I consider how the external cues we give – the things we say, our facial expressions, etc. – these things might misrepresent how deeply we feel any of our concerns. For example, the two deep creases between my eyebrows (already deep due to many years of thinking and worrying ) might suggest I’m very worried about the topic at hand, but I know deep down I’m not reacting as strongly as I would have in the past. Or the fact that I’m talking through many aspects of an issue with someone might suggest I’m overly concerned, but really it feels far less of a big deal than it would have long ago.
~ Trust the value of the improvements you’ve noticed within yourself – see it as a ‘win,’ no matter how small. Revel in that and cheer yourself on. Don’t let someone else’s observation erode away your own knowledge of how you feel inside.
And WHEN YOU FIND YOURSELF FALLING DOWN A RABBIT HOLE OF RUMINATION, WORRY, OR CONCERN (or whatever word you feel best describes it for you) – allow your awareness to be a conscious reminder to help bring yourself back to noticing the present moment: where you are, what’s around you, what you’re doing, what is happening, perhaps what action you can take – right now, in this moment.
Wishing you a day of returning to the present moment as often as you remember in order to help release your tight grasp on any concerns – without vilifying them or judging them, simply accepting that they are a part of life.