As a teenager I was hospitalized for gut pains. They said it might be my appendix, ulcers, my colon, IBS. The truth was I was worrying in a big way about what felt like everything. If the Olympics had a Worrying event, I could have made the team and won a medal. I was brilliant at imagining negative outcomes that had not happened; and that’s what worriers do. These days I am almost always as calm as I want to be: sometimes I relish excitement. Here are some things that helped me and I’d love to hear what’s worked for you. One day it occurred to me that if I was good at seeing negative outcomes maybe I could be good at visualizing positive ones. I started imagining things going well. I still worried too, but at least there was a two-track dynamic, and some positive outcomes emerged. It was exciting, tho still a bit edgy. From negative to positive and negative.
It turns out all worries are about the future, and the future’s not here. I started practicing coming back to the present. It only takes a moment. Try this: feel your feet on the floor, follow your breath, notice the sounds around you; find even a tiny a tiny space to be. Actually, you have everything you need for this particular moment, and this is all there is, the future being a potentially wonderful fantasy.
From the future to the present. Still, anxiety can arise, say before an important presentation, and some say a little anxiety can even help. My old response was to feel anxious that I was anxious! A downward spiral. Now I’ll remind myself that at some level “I have chosen this moment”, and may add that “This is my thing”. It works well for me. From it’s happening to me to I’m happening to this. Along the way, I learnt to breathe with the diaphragm which nicely massages the gut and has other health benefits. I sometimes practice stillness and experience a deeper connection with life; every moment of peace helps. From head via lungs to heart. Worries remain possible. It turns out not to be about the worry at all, it’s about my response to the worry.
These days I’ll suppose a worry is an aspect of myself that needs reassurance. I can ask myself, “What is the worry trying to tell me? It usually has a message, however dysfunctional. Ignore it and it will keep coming. Hear the message and it evaporates. And instead of being the worrier I become the re-assurer. From resisting to dancing. My gut’s been fine for years. In fact, Conscious TV recently interviewed me about what Iain McNay calls “The Art of Stillness in Business”. You may enjoy it here or just take a breath, notice this present moment and dance.
Shall we dance?
Categories: Living and Leading