Friday, January 18, 2013

Interrupting Worry

Worry is something we could do daily, even all day and all night. Worry may have many meanings. Here, it is a mental repetition or obsession about situations, conditions or people, past, present or future. Mental and emotional repetition creates canals or aqueducts in our mind, funneling mental and emotional energy instead of water.  When we worry, this energy is wasted, spilling over into our life.

Whenever we worry, our mind is trying to hold onto the negative or the difficult. Usually, the negative and difficult are external situations, not internal. By worrying, we’re focusing our mind in the opposite direction away from resolution. Also, by our mind constantly being embedded in thoughts and feelings about the difficult or the negative, we lose objectivity and limit perspective.

Worry results in a slow and lethargic response to situations and conditions. Our mental energy has been drained from our awareness, and is off on an internal ‘wild goose chase.’ We’re not gathering any new information to aid in resolution. Instead, our mind is simply revisiting old information repeatedly, hoping to find something new.

The other reason for our mind to worry is to convince ourselves that there is nothing we can do. This reinforces feelings and thoughts of powerlessness. This once again diverts mental energy away from awareness, stifling both awareness and action. Also, this powerlessness acts like a vacuum, siphoning emotional energy. We feel there is nothing we can do, so why bother trying. We’re reinforcing the worry, because the situation or difficulty is not being resolved. We’re compounding the problem simultaneously with diminishing emotional and mental resources through our internal messaging.

We must interrupt this worry process. Our mind has been doing this for a very long time. We must apply patience at every step. We’re attempting to do something different than we’ve done every other day of our life. When we catch ourselves going through our worry list, we must acknowledge what we’re doing. This is the first step.

Once acknowledging what our mind is doing, we then need to let go of it. This is done with as light a touch as possible. If we beat ourselves up for worrying, we’re defeating the purpose of interrupting this process. Remember, have patience, we’re trying to interrupt a common daily occurrence. Light touch means just acknowledge and let go of it without too much effort. The mind will probably revert back to worrying shortly, and that is not just okay but it is also highly predictable. We cannot turn interrupting worry into a weapon against ourselves.

Each time the mind reverts to worrying, use your mind to acknowledge the worry, then let it go again. If our mind cannot interrupt this worrying, we must apply additional steps. Sometimes, it can be useful to attempt to focus the mind on something simple and common. In these moments, I focus my mind on my breath, being careful to not actually mentally cause my body to breathe but to watch the natural process of breathing.

When we focus on watching the natural act of our body breathing, it keeps the mind from whatever it was doing before. However, the mind is going to continue to want to do whatever it wants to do. As with the worrying, with a light touch we simply return to watching the breath. In a full scale worry and anxiety attack, this may not even be possible for even a moment. That is okay. Do not lose hope. We will continue these efforts until the mind lets go.

Acknowledging worry has not worked. Focusing on breathing has not worked. Now, we must explore our worry through generating understanding. This exploration must be thorough. Considering the worry is not subsiding, the land to explore is right where we are. We don’t have to go anywhere as we’re already here. Use the mind to ask and answer the questions important to you, why and how seem to be highly useful to try and answer.

It is also useful to consider where this worry is, it’s completely in our own mind. Worry isn’t being injected into us; it’s something we’re generating. Sometimes, just that simple understanding can allow the mind to let go. It’s under our control regardless of our acknowledgment.

Worry is a constant mental threat. It can exhaust us mentally and emotionally, and this can affect us physically. If worry and anxiety are daily concerns, handling them differently maybe advisable. However, when we attempt a new method, we must have patience for ourselves throughout the process. We, after all, have been worrying and anxious for a considerable time.

Doing something different about worry and anxiety can become a source of relief, or it can be its own source of worry. We can do something different right here and right now; we need only continue to try. The alternative is continuing worry and anxiety. The harm in doing nothing different is known, more of the same. The potential in doing something tangible about it is limitless.

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