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Worry: the insidious emotion

Of the emotions that live inside human beings, worry is one of the most insidious. It is the fraternal twin of obsession. The spinning, racing, repetitive thoughts that fill our brains and overflow into the rest of our essences. This emotion is insidious in that on the surface it appears as though we care. Are concerned. Want to know what to do. But the reality is that worry immobilizes us. We stay stuck on the problem that we are worrying about so that not only aren't solutions possible, the problem usually gets worse.

Let's take a common example. The rent is coming due and you are short by $100. The worry starts as a panic spark in your brain. And you feel it somewhere in your body. Either your stomach clenches, or your head aches or your hand shakes. You're thought is 'Omg, what am I going to do?" And you keep thinking this thought over and over again. This is worry. Worry can lead you to either go to bed, hide under the comforter and worry yourself to sleep. Or it can lead you to take an unhealthy or unsafe action such as theft or selling illegal products.

There are antidotes to worry and those of us living in recovery are fortunate to have many of them. When we notice the first pang of worry, we take a deep, slow breath in through our noses. We hold it for a moment then breathe slowly out through out mouths. This stills us and interrupts the racing thoughts. Once we are still, we are able to pray for guidance and meditate on the answers. This is a practice. Most of us do it every day and it must be done every time worry sparks inside us. Once we use these tools, we are able to take constructive action on the problem and move forward.

A simple rule of thumb is to look the worrisome situation in the face and ask yourself if you can do anything about the problem. If after breathing, prayer and meditation, you discover you can DO something; then DO it. Always remembering that you are responsible for the footwork, not the outcome. Taking positive action frightens worry away. Worry doesn't like proactive behavior.

If it turns out after asking, that there isn't anything you can do, then repeat the breathing, praying, meditating...and let it go. And yes, you know how to let it go...Breathe, pray, meditate!


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