Future Beacon

Anxiety with its off shoots of inordinate worry, ruminating (worry thoughts that cycle over and over), great difficulty making decisions, panic attacks, freezing up, onset insomnia, early morning wakening, self doubt and so on into the hellish state of giving away any pleasure that may be had of the present moment, is a very interesting animal. Better to say phenomenon. Fear can be a very good thing when it comes to survival, so it is good to be grateful we have it. However, looking at it more closely when it comes to our daily functioning, we need a lot less fear. Then we can enjoy what there is in our lives.

We worry about possible future events that may be harmful to ourselves or loved ones. Many people unwittingly believe that if they worry enough this will be a protection. It will keep them safe. It will keep their loved ones safe: “If I don’t worry, I worry that something worse will happen.” Another common worry belief is “If I worry enough I am showing how much I love someone”. This I believe may stem from old European family cultures.

Staying vigilant by worrying spikes our adrenaline. We get the ‘worry high’. This plays well with Worry’s cousin Chaos. While worry is believed to protect us, chaos runs wild with the infusion of adrenaline to keep the whole thing going. Author Brooks Palmer shares in his book “Clutter Busting Your Life” that the adrenaline rush he had from fear “made me feel alive. It was like a protective force field. The worries also made me feel a false sense of safety because I was alert and ready for the worst to come. But the fearful worrying never brought me relief” (p.39).

What is interesting is that the collaboration between worry and chaos results in something people value highly: DISTRACTION. We use distraction to defend ourselves from the awareness of real issues that are occurring within. It works so well that we wind up using it over and over, and some of us are so into it we can’t see ourselves living without it. Our system is acting as though the benefit of distraction outweighs what we are hiding from.

It is helpful to take a step back and let ourselves off the hook with the help of compassionate understanding. Distraction of this kind drains the life right out of us. Instead of being happy in the present moment with our creativity, and all the other qualities we own, we worry instead.

Understand: 1) Whatever we are avoiding can be brought to the surface and released. We are strong enough to feel our feelings, process and release them and move on; 2) once we realize that worry and chaos are a distraction it helps significantly. We find that we really can worry less as we understand worry’s false promises are hurting us more than helping us. We don’t need worry. We can face what is ours to face and deal with it responsibly.

            -Mary Seyuin, M.A. LLP
               (Inspired by Brooks Palmer)