We all know the clichés about worry, right?
You know: “Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.”
– Leo F. Buscaglia
Or, one of my favs: “Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow.”
– Swedish Proverb
And a litany of similar bits of wisdom. They seem to be all the rage today.
But while we can understand this, even know it in our hearts, that doesn’t make dealing with worry any easier.
One thing people tend to agree on—no matter how diverse their political leanings—is that the world today is one big, fat mess. Just turn on the news to see the horrors occurring in real time, which seem to keep coming at lightning speed.
Yep, lots of issues in our biosphere today.
And that’s just the “outer” culture, which doesn’t even count the personal worries we all may have. And we all have issues we’re facing (or we’re not striving for a high-enough goal!).
I’ve just been through a season of this, and got tons of opportunities to work on worry. You know—the 3 AM wake-up call that seemed to arrive with precision. And one thing I know for true is that there are NO good thoughts at 3 AM.
So what’s the answer to how to stop worrying in such a world? What can we find to anchor our own domains, and thereby begin to move the collective one forward?
As cliché as this one sounds, the thing that kept me sane was staying in the present moment. I know—easier said than done as well. But asking 2 questions keeps me there.
I learned this one long ago, when as a starving artist, often the wolf truly was howling at my door. When the cupboard held precious little. When I didn’t know how I was going to pay the next month’s rent. But I had food for that day. Something to eat and a roof over my head.
By remembering that right now, right this second, I had all that I needed calmed me.
Or today? Or in the near future? So often it feels as though there is nothing we can do. But pretty much always, there is. We just have to be able to hear the guidance.
And it’s tough to hear the guidance in the midst of worry and panic.
I can say for true that when you trust in something higher than yourself, the burden is lifted, if just a hair. When I learned that the Universe did, indeed, have my back, my life changed.
All people have their own beliefs, so exactly what you believe isn’t the point here. But when you find that piece of the divine that you can trust, can bank on, using spiritual tools that resonate with you, life changes.
Whether you believe it’s God speaking to you, or the gentle nudge of your intuition (or that it’s part and parcel of the same energy, in the end), we all have a guidance system that resides deeply within the heart.
I’ve never known mine to be fallible. Yep, times existed where I questioned said advice until I didn’t follow it, and boy, can I attest to that insanity!
But when I calm myself, breathe, meditate, hear clearly, the answer always comes. If that’s only the next step for me to take.
All of this speaks to getting quiet—however you get yourself into that place—calming the breath, calming the emotions, letting those stress hormones seep out no matter slowly, and listening, truly listening.
That’s when the next step appears, like a yellow shining road.
In all my life, I’ve never seen worry help one blessed thing.
Because in the end, all those clichés about worry are actually true, no? In all my life, I’ve never seen worry help one blessed thing. It does rob you of the present, and of finding a way to go forward.
If 3 worries head toward you on the road, at least 2 of them really will fall into the ditch before they get to you. And the third most often disappears or morphs into something manageable.
One thing I learned through my own long worrying life, lol, is that I was using worry as a crutch to actually keep myself from going forward. I know, what a disgusting realization! Using worry as a defense is not a happy thing.
But by knowing that, I also learned to understand worry for what it is in my life.
Or as Abraham Hicks says: “The feeling of worry is an emotional indicator that if you keep beating this drum, you are using THAT as an excuse to slow down this thing that you want.”
And that helped me focus more than any other thing on what I want rather than what I fear.
How do you deal with worry?
Award-winning writer and editor Susan Mary Malone is the author of the novels, "I Just Came Here to Dance" and "By the Book," as well as four co-authored nonfiction books, including "What’s Wrong with My Family?" and many published short stories. Forty-plus Malone-edited books have now sold to traditional publishers.