When my children were young, I’d tuck them in at night with kisses and a song. Every now and then their sweet little minds would be wrestling with a worry that was upsetting them. Maybe someone was being mean; maybe they were nervous about an upcoming game; maybe they felt they’d disappointed their teacher. Nothing too earth shattering but distressing to their little hearts.
I didn’t want them to go to bed with a troubled mind so I’d strike a bargain before they drifted off to sleep. “You give me your worries for the night and I’ll take care of them for you. If they get too big for me, I’ll hand them over to God.”
That seemed reasonable to them, so they’d place their troubles in my hand and float off to La La Land.
Wouldn’t you like to do that?
All of us spend too much time worrying about “what-ifs” and worst case scenarios that will probably never come true. With the media informing us of every horrific global event and commercials alerting us to every “silent killer” lurking in our own bodies, the world can feel scary and unpredictable at times.
How do you stay calm when you’re worried about your money, your debt, your job, your health, your loved ones, your pets, your home, your country and a myriad of other fears and unforeseen events. How do you stay at peace in a world you can’t control?
Being a title-holding worry wart, I’ve found 3 ways to manage troublesome thoughts.
1. Take Control of the Controllable.
Not all worry is useless. It can serve you well when it drives you to take action and solve the problems at hand, but when you’re only fixated on the “what ifs” and worst-case scenarios, chronic worrying can leave you emotionally drained.
The first step is to evaluate your problem by asking whether it’s solvable: Is it a real problem or an imaginary what-if? Is the concern realistic? Am I killing off healthy loved ones in my imagination for no apparent reason? How likely is this to happen? Can I prepare for it or is it out of my control?
Next is to take any action that’s needed right away. If you’re anxious about debt, call your creditors and set up a payment plan. If you’re having pain in your leg, make a doctor’s appointment. If you’re concerned about the cold weather, move to Southern California. Focus on the things you can solve rather than the things and conditions that are out of your control.
Whatever’s left, kick it to the curb and focus on ice cream.
2. Make a “God Box”.
I read about The God Box in Tosha Silver’s book Outrageous Openness and I knew I needed one. Some of us like having something to DO when our nerves need soothing.
Get yourself a dedicated box that feels good to you. Place it somewhere in your home that’s sacred and personal. When you have a worry, write it down on a piece of paper and place it in the box.
As you put it inside, call on God (or whatever your divine source is) and release your personal focus and attachment. Surrender it to your higher power and allow it to use anything and any way it wants to solve your problem and meet your needs.
There’s no “your way or the highway” allowed. The Universe is more clever and magical than you ever thought possible and always finds the perfect way.
3. Do a Good Deed.
Doing a good deed not only makes you feel warm and fuzzy, it replaces rampant negative energy with positive.
Give needed attention to a loved one, help a sick neighbor, give a compliment to the store clerk or offer a meal to a homeless person. Any kind act works. Use your instincts to be led to the right opportunities.
The added benefit is that when you engage in good deeds, your body releases Oxytocin which reduces stress and makes you feel better. Kindness also triggers feel-good chemicals like dopamine and endorphins which increase your overall well-being.
When you worry, you’re putting too much focus on the future and not enough on the here and now. Bringing your attention back to the present by controlling what you can, releasing what you can’t and changing your focus to others, lessens your anxiety and puts you in a place of gratitude.
As adults, we have busy and full lives which can give us lots to worry about, but we still have the opportunity to hand it all over to a much wiser and loving power when it feels too big.
When you go to bed tonight and lay your head gently on the pillow, let your “Divine Mother” hold your worries while you sleep and maybe, just maybe, she’ll sing you a lullaby as you drift off to La La Land.
Rest well and sweet dreams.