If you find you worry about your loved ones and priorities in life, you may want to take a second look. The act of worrying may be the only way you express care about someone or something important to you. Think about it: How often do you worry about things you don’t care about? Probably not at all.
Do these examples sound familiar?
You care about your children, so you worry about them. I'm worried:
- my child isn’t eating well.
- the school is not setting my child up to succeed.
- my son is hanging out with the wrong friends.
You care about your job, so you worry. I'm worried that:
- if I don’t make this deadline I’m going to be fired.
- my coworkers don’t like me.
- I’ll be late to work tomorrow.
You care about yourself and you worry. I'm worried that:
- my relationship with my partner will fail.
- I’ll never get that dream job I’ve always wanted.
- my bad habits won't stop.
- others don't find me attractive.
- my past and present and future are just not right!
You even use worry as a sort of charged reminder to get important things done. I'm worried because:
- my car is due for an oil change.
- I still haven’t called the doctor.
- It's 6:00 and I don’t know what to make for dinner.
Some of my clients spend hours a day worrying about their finances but can never bring themselves to actually look at them. They think, “I cannot stand to look at the checkbook. ” Instead they worry about it because it “matters so much to them.” And I have great compassion for this thinking because I did it for literally years.
Do you see how worrying so often replaces authentic doing and being?
I believe you have learned to use a part of your nervous system and personality that is not as effective for caring. This way of obsessing or feeling anxious replaces really looking at someone or something and offering genuine love and care.
And here's the thing: If you’re worrying about something you’re really not fully caring.
I know that sounds harsh, and that your intentions are from the heart. But worry creates a compulsive, diluted version of caring. Worry stirs up your nervous system and creates a disconnected, agitated state inside you. Then your anxious energy reaches out toward those you most care about.
Worry only adds pain and struggle to you and those around you.
Over time you have likely developed the compulsive inverse belief that “If I don't worry, it means I don't care.”
You worry because you care. But worrying IS NOT the same thing as caring! Caring involves genuine attention, sometimes action, and loving intentions toward someone or something.
In her Huffington Post blog article, Worrying Vs. Caring: Do You Know The Difference? Donna Levi, says, “When we worry about someone or something, we direct our energy toward the situation. We are, in fact, putting fear and doubt into an already shaky state of affairs.”
Worrying actually burns out your positive energy in order to feel like you are caring about the people and things that you care about.
I was raised on worry. My Mom, whom I adore, would often express her love for her children, for her grandchildren, for my Dad, by worrying about us. She would sometimes even worry to the point of superstition. I remember one day my Mom called me to ask if my kids might bite into the Christmas lights in the window. I remember she said to me, “I was worried that if I didn’t say anything about it, something might happen.”
Does this sound familiar? Do the parts of you that worry feel that overthinking is absolutely essential to preventing bad things from happening?
Since you are a caring individual, how can you interrupt this painful, exhausting cycle and begin to effectively feel and express how much you care?
Here are four tools to help you build true caring.
People who worry have bright minds and big hearts. Deep down they really care. So what is really going on inside when we worry? What exactly is worry? What messages cycle through your mind when you feel this way? Unfortunately, telling you to “stop worrying” doesn’t help, because it doesn’t provide you with any useful information, and information is the first thing we must gather to break this stressed out cycle.
Think about specific things you worry about. What is the story you are telling yourself when you worry? What do the parts of you that worry think will happen if they simply stopped thinking in this way?
Because we so often equate worry with caring, those worrying parts of you might feel like, “If I don’t worry, I don’t care.”
But remember, worrying is a one-dimensional replacement for caring. So, collect some information. Be honest with yourself. When do you worry? What do you worry about? What do I believe might happen if I stopped worrying about something I love or consider important?
Information alone cannot solve this deeply held neurological pattern in your body. That is not because you are broken! It just makes sense. No part of you is going to comply with some external information.
After you gather some honest data from yourself, you need to develop some authentic understanding surrounding your thoughts and feelings. With all of that useful information you've already gathered as support, ask yourself: How do I feel the worry/caring in my body and what does is it saying to me?
After you gather information, and deepen your understanding of the roots of our worry, you can begin to use curiosity and recognize the sensation of that caring in your body. The physical sensation of worry in the body is so important, because worry doesn’t simply occur in your brain. It happens in your entire body. To objectively feel the sensation of your worry is to begin a relationship with it. When you can feel the difference between worry and care, you can recognize worry for what it is, and interrupt the cycle of being hijacked by your worried parts.
Once you have moved toward the awareness of sensation, you will begin to integrate all that you now understand and feel into your daily lives. Start to think of someone with obsessive anxiety rather than loving care, notice it and take a breath. Recognize your “stuck” thoughts, step back and see what you can do to help. You can now have a new practice for your thoughts and feelings in which you do not defeat yourselves and others around you, but you offer genuine compassion and clarity instead. This will become natural the more you practice, integrating a new way of being that feels better.
What will you do with your time, your mind, your body, when you finally calm your worried parts? You’ll find you have much more energy to offer true care to the things that matter to you.
And here is when inspiration comes into the picture. This is the really exciting part!
Inspiration is all about intuition and action. Having done your inner work, you can now truly feel and act on all of the things you care so much about!
I’m not saying there won’t be times when worry still creeps in. You're human, after all.
But when you gather information, develop understanding, gain awareness of your sensations and integrate what you know and understand into each moment, you gain the freedom to share inspiration and genuine love.
I’ve spent so much time and energy worrying in my life, and that’s okay! Worrying is natural. It can even be useful, to a degree. But worrying gets in the way of truly caring, and to be able to express true care about the things that matter to us is what we all really want deep down. I assure you that it is absolutely within your reach, and the world beyond worry is so worth the effort.
To help you work courageously through your worry, there's much more in Calm Your Worries: Unlock Your Secret Code to Lasting Stress Relief & Self-Confidence.