Why we worry all the time and how to stop it

My favorite saying: “Worrying is like a rocking chair…It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere.” Have you ever caught your thoughts jumping from one worry to the next and wondered why? The reason is simple. At a glance, it appears to be necessary. There are two reasons why:

Reason #1 – At some point in the past, we didn’t worry about something and got burned by it.
Perhaps you were confident in your job and position at the company and then one day got a pink slip out of the blue.

Reason #2 – At some point in the past, we worried about something and it turned out to be a good thing we did.
Perhaps you worried about letting your children play “in the woods” and wouldn’t let them go with the other kids. Only to find out later one of the other kids was badly injured as a result.

Use the player below to listen to the audio-only PODCAST episode for this post…

Of course, this type of reinforcement can happen with small things too and each time it does, major damage is done. A little piece of our true nature flakes away. I know so many people who allow their mind to jump from one worry to the next. As soon as they’re done worrying about one thing, they search for the next thing to worry about until they find it. This seems to be an effective strategy for the prevention of suffering. It appears to also be effective in preparing for the worst-cast-scenario, but…is it?

The Illusion
When we worry, it takes us away from our natural state because worrying almost always happens in the future. Therefore, when we worry, we are not in the present moment and not in our natural state of grace and wonder. If we jump from one worry to the next, then we will literally NEVER be present. Is that living? I don’t think so. In fact, I would call that suffering. Which is exactly what we are trying to prevent by worrying! This would be like wearing a helmet that causes brain damage just by wearing it!

We worry in an attempt to control our fate, control the future events in our lives. The more we try to control, the more we try to control. It’s one of those phrases you can say over and over. That’s exactly what happens in our mind when we try to control outcomes. It’s a never ending pit of despair. There is no way to control every single variable in the equation of life. However, if you try to control just one thing, you’ll quickly notice how many other things could disrupt your plan. Now all of those things need to be controlled as well. It never ends. When you break down what a “worry” is, that’s exactly what’s happening. We are trying to control life so that thing we worry about doesn’t happen. Rarely does the worrier think beyond that. What if you succeed in staving off this concern? Will there be nothing else to worry about in life? Unfortunately, the worry-wart mentality is actually a philosophy of life. If you subscribe to it, then more power to you, but I think there are a lot of people subscribed who don’t realize it.

The Zombie Killers
I once interviewed the CEO of a Solar Company on my radio show. He was a very funny guy and a great interview. I asked him about off-the-grid Solar power and he asked me “are you a zombie killer?”. He was basically asking if I was a Prepper or someone who is preparing for the zombie apocalypse. Preppers have the most severe case of the worries. Someone should remind them that human beings lived on this planet for millions of years without power or man-made anything. If it really came to that, we would figure it out. It’s what we’ve always done. However, these folks go to extreme lengths to store food, weapons, water, and even build special bunkers and shelters all in preparation for a horrific event that I’m sure they themselves would admit is very, very unlikely. So, why do they do it? The same reasons that people who aren’t Preppers jump from one worry to the next. They subscribe to the worry-wart philosophy because they believe, with enough preparation, they can control the future. But in a world of infinite possibilities, there is no amount of preparation will control any aspect of the future. There are too many possibilities to prepare for and no guarantee we will even be around to witness any of them.

The Truth
Worrying hasn’t worked. It’s made things worse. However, as human beings, we like to figure things out. Worrying is a way of doing that. Figuring out a plan B or a way to be safe. It’s these strong urges that allowed us to survive through many trials and tribulations over the past 4.5 million years. In fact, the coding in our DNA that represents these patterns of behavior is likely much older than that and goes back further into our lineage. The reality is, we don’t need this anymore. I can just hear my old self saying “Told you so. I told you we should have been worried about X. Look at what’s happened now. We could have prevented that!” This type of second-guessing comes along with the worry-wart philosophy. Constantly looking in hindsight to see what actions could have been taken to prevent future suffering. This does not serve us one bit.

The Solution
The only way out of this trap is through self-awareness. Ultimately, if we want a way out of this philosophy, we have to learn to let go. We must accept an infinity of possibilities. This CAN be done. We most definitely can re-train ourselves to see the beauty in not worrying. If you can just talk yourself in to giving it a try, what you’ll find is reinforcement over and over. Most of the things you worry about never happen. If you can become aware enough to recognize when you’re worrying, let go of that just a few times, then pay attention to the results, you’ll find the worries to be almost entirely a waste of time, a waste of energy and a waste of precious life on earth.

Happy meditating. I really hope it helps. Namaste 🙂

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