Sometimes life just hands us a big plate of yuck. Even those of us with optimistic tendencies have to admit that sometimes life is hard. The problem is, as much as we know this to be true, in our heart of hearts most of us wish it wasn’t. We wish life could be easy, at least most of the time. So when the tough stuff comes, as it always does, often we go straight to worry. “How will I be able to handle that?” “What if it things don’t turn out well?” “What will people think of me if I fail?” And then we forget. We forget to have faith in ourselves. We forget that there is more than one way to look at a situation. We forget that there are often valuable lessons to be learned from the obstacles that sometimes block our path. Why? It’s habit of course. We worry to try to feel in control again, but ironically, this worry pulls us right out of control by placing us in a future that has not yet occurred and that we have no control over. So instead of the sense of control we were hoping for, we end up feeling even more powerless and confused; landing us in an endless cycle of worry and concern. Blocked from seeing the possibilities and the potential lessons available to us.
So, what can we do about it? Be aware. Pay attention. Be mindful of our thoughts and our behavior. And in this act of present focus we can begin to see that we have a choice. Our fate is not predetermined. Our worries are not facts, they are simply thoughts. We have control over our thoughts and behavior in the now. And in this simple act of anchoring ourselves to the present moment we regain our power and our ability to direct our course. We can be aware of the choices that are available to us presently and we can choose wisely, not reflexively. And no matter how rough it gets, when we remind ourselves that we will get through, that we are capable, that there are blessings around us and valuable lessons to be learned, we open a doorway for forward movement and problem solving. Whereas when we focus on our worries and tell ourselves we can’t possibly get through it, we slam that same door shut.
What happens instead of worrying about our inability to cope, if we cultivate faith in ourselves and our ability to handle the situation? “I’m scared, but it will be O.K.” “I know eventually I’ll figure out what I need to do.” Instead of imagining ourselves failing, allowing ourselves to image that we handle the situation, solve the problem, cope really well.
And of course, what’s good for the goose is also good for the gander. How many times have you found yourself saying “Oh, I’m so worried about my friend, my spouse, my brother, my sister, my child…”? Some of us more often than others, but as my mother says, I’d lay dollars to donuts that something like that comes out of your mouth from time to time, especially during times of stress. In fact, some of us may even spend more time worrying about those we love than ourselves. Talk about feeling out of control! Now not only are we worrying about an unknown future, we’re worrying about a future that is not even ours to make choices about. Why do we do it? When we give others our worry, what are we actually saying? “I don’t believe you can handle things?” “I don’t have faith in you?” “I don’t think things will turn out your way?” Now really, who in their right mind would actually say that to anybody they cared about? Yet, without meaning to, that’s exactly what we are saying. We need to realize that our worry won’t help the people we love, our faith in them will. Next time you have concern about someone that you love, instead of thinking or saying, “Oh, I’m so worried about you” perhaps instead you could think or say, “I have faith in you.” ” I know you’ll be able to handle this.” What a gift your faith is. Rather than weighing them down with your fears and worries, you give them wings to fly with your caring and your faith…which is really what you meant to do the whole time, isn’t it?
So, faith vs. worry. Which do you choose?
Be happy and well,