6 reasons not to worry

Hello dear reader.

Lately, I’ve been finding a lot of inspiration in what certain quotes bring to mind.  Glancing at them doesn’t get it.  You have to stop and let your mind wrap itself around what they say and, more importantly, what they mean.  How do they relate to your own life?  Here’s the one I picked for today…..

“Little minds have little worries, big minds have no time for worries.”

By Ralph Waldo Emerson

Worry…who doesn’t do that?  I think we all do it, some more than others.  I’ve figured out over the years that worry is something that should be avoided if possible.  Here are reasons why…

1.  Worry fixes nothing.   No matter how much you worry about any given thing, it will not change the outcome.  For example, say you’re a student with an important exam coming up in a subject you struggle with and you’re worried about it.  Will that improve your grade?  Of course not!  The way to make a better grade is to study.

2.  Worry actually makes things worse.  Worry is often a self-fulfilling prophecy.   Let’s go back to that exam you’re worried about.  Worrying about it causes stress, right?  Stress interferes with your ability to think clearly.  It also impedes your ability to relax, which can cause you to lose sleep.  Loss of sleep also interferes with you ability to think clearly.  You see where this is going?

3.  Worry can blow things out of proportion.  Monsters hide in the dark.  When you worry about things they grow in your mind.  Continuing with our example about the exam, worry can blow it up from a single exam to your entire future.  Who hasn’t done this before?  “If I blow this exam, I’ll fail that class.  If I fail that class, my GPA will drop.  If my GPA drops, I could lose my scholarship.  If I lose my scholarship, I won’t be able to graduate.  If I don’t graduate, I’ll end up flipping burgers for the rest of my life.  If I end up flipping burgers for a living, nobody will ever want to marry me.  If nobody wants to marry me, I’ll be old and alone.”   Etc., Etc.   Your head has convinced you that you will lose any chance at a happy life if you don’t do well on this one exam.  How many times has the unknown been much worse than the reality?

4.  Worry is habit forming.  Have you ever met someone who worries constantly about everything?   They can’t stop.  Once your head starts feeding into worry, it becomes a vicious circle.  One worry leads to another, which leads to another, which eventually leads to worrying about how much you worry.  Okay, that may be a little extreme, but you get my point.

5.  Worrying wastes your time and energy.  Worrying is exhausting!  Back to our exam, your brain is too busy running scenarios of what might happen if you do poorly (see #3) to have time or energy to absorb the information you need to do well on the exam.  There are only so many things you can focus on at once.   So you decide to go to a study group, where you spend the entire time talking about how worried about the exam you are.  So you’ve wasted three hours and exhausted yourself for absolutely no gain.  And the point is…???

6.  Worry robs you of happiness.  This is probably the most important reason of all to avoid worrying.  You cannot be worried and happy at the same time.  It’s just plain not possible.  It’s a proven fact that happy people are more productive people.  Back to our exam one last time…it’s simply a choice.  You can choose to study hard and do the best you can.  That mindset allows happiness.  You can also choose to have thoughts that say it’s not not good enough.  You need to find something more.  That mindset will lead to worry and frustration…the opposite of happiness

I can hear you now, “But Lynnette, sometimes you can’t help but worry.  Haven’t you ever been in a situation like that?  Are you trying to tell me that you just don’t worry at all?”  Of course I worry!  My kids will vouch for that fact.  However, I don’t allow myself to stay worried, and that changes everything.  When I begin to worry about something, I ask myself three questions…
      1.  Why am I worried about this?
      2.  Is there anything that I can do to make the situation better?
      3.  If I’ve done everything I can, why am I still holding on to this?
Those questions bring me back into focus, into reality.  I’ve done all I can, so let it go.

I’ve learned over the years that while things may not work out the way I want them to, they do work out the way they’re supposed to.  Some people call that faith.  I honestly don’t know if it’s faith or simply experience.  Whatever you want to call it, it leaves no room for worry.

So what do you think?  Do you have little worries?  Big worries?  Or a big mind?

Until next time…

Advertisements

Hot Coals

Hello dear reader.

My last couple of posts have been a bit different from what I usually write about, but they’ve been things I’m very passionate about…domestic violence and giving children a voice when they need one.  Today, however, will be a little calmer.  I promise.

I found a quote the other day that really stuck with me.

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else. You are the one who gets burned”
Buddha

I’ve believed for a long time now that holding on to anger and refusing to forgive, gives the person who wronged you power over you. It hurts you, not them. Buddha just says it better. No matter how it’s said, it’s a truth that a lot of people never grasp.

When I was a child, I wanted more than anything to be grown so my abusive mother and step-father would no longer have control over me. When I was 15, I simply could not deal with it any longer. I was literally losing my mind. So I left. The police found me after a week or so. They gave me a choice between going to Juvie or going home. I thought about it and decided, better the devil you know……right? So I went back. Nothing got better. Things actually got worse. So when I left again a few months later, I had a plan. The plan worked. Instead of sending the police after me, they told me that they would call the police on me if I showed up there. I was free! At least, I thought I was.

Many years went by while I hung on to hurt, anger, hatred, and guilt. Why guilt? Because I had left my four siblings in that hell hole. When I left, I planned to get them out as soon as I could. But I was living in an abandoned car out in a field. In Louisiana. In the summer. I knew I couldn’t take custody of them while I was living like that. It was four years later by the time I had a home of my own, not staying at someone else’s house, and a steady job. By then…..anyway, that’s where the guilt came from.

I went from bad relationship to bad relationship to worse relationship. I was angry, depressed, and felt like a victim. But I didn’t have a clue how to change things. I had gotten away. But I wasn’t FREE. My life still felt the same. I changed geography and who was abusing me, but other than that it was the same life. I’d reach a point where I simply could not deal with it any longer and I’d run, over and over again.

The first time I tried to commit suicide I was 10 years old. I knew that it was dangerous to take more Tylenol than it said to on the bottle, so I swallowed an entire bottle of Tylenol before I went to bed. I completely expected to die during the night. Boy was I mad when I woke up in the morning! That was the first of many attempts throughout my life. I simply could not deal with my life any longer and I tried to run.

It’s a funny thing about running. No matter how fast or how far you run, you are still there with all the pain and anger you try to escape. It took me more than 40 years to figure that out. But I still didn’t know how to change it. I couldn’t erase all that had happened to me. I had tried to forget, but that never worked. I had to let go of it. I didn’t know how to do that.

When I had my first surgery for the Chiari, I truly didn’t know if I would survive the surgery. I wasn’t scared of dying, but if I was going to, I needed to do it with a clean slate. I had to forgive so that I could be forgiven. It wasn’t about letting them off the hook, or in any way condoning what had been done. It was about me being able to die with a clear conscience. So I started calling people…my mother, my ex-husband….people who had hurt me the worst. I called and told them that I was sorry. I was sorry that I hadn’t been a better daughter. I was sorry that I hadn’t been a better wife. I was sorry that I hadn’t been a better person, a better sibling, friend, mother….so many things.

I was shocked at what happened. My pain and anger toward people went away as I apologized for my failures in the relationship. I was able to let go of my hurt. With every person I talked to, a little bit of light shined into places in my heart that had never been anything but dark. It was incredible! They didn’t have any more power over me. What they had done to me no longer controlled my life.

Let me be very clear about one thing here. Forgiving does not mean forgetting. I would never leave my daughters alone with my parents because I knew what could happen. I let go of the pain they had caused me. I didn’t become stupid. What I did was for me, not for them.

I did survive the surgery….obviously. But I had my clean conscious. My past no longer ruled my future. I’ve worked hard every day since then to try to be more forgiving. The things that happened to me are still a part of my life, but now I try to use them for good. I work with children who have been abused or neglected. I work with victims of domestic violence. I am very passionate about those things. But I am no longer a victim. I am a survivor.

That hot coal did a lot of damage to me while I tried to throw it. I still burn my fingertips from time to time when I reach to pick it back up. But now I’ve learned to drop it.

I truly hope that I (and Buddha) have given you something to think about today. Put something in comments at the bottom of this page and let me know. You are welcome to share as much or as little as you’d like. Please feel free to pass this on. It’s truly life changing.

Until next time…