Recently, I was working with a client – an executive – who worries a lot. During our time together, he began to see how much time his worrying takes up, and how much energy he spends on worrying.
Worry looks like it’s important or useful; it looks like it’s taking care of you. But worry is only compelling when we don’t understand its true nature. When we see that we are the manufacturer of it, that it’s a projection of our thinking, it loses its power.
In our coaching work, I didn't give this client tips and techniques to get rid of or manage his worry.Instead, I pointed to the true nature of what worry is and helped him see it so that he had a new insight, a new understanding. Because with that understanding, everything changes.
My client was able to look back at other times in his life and recognize moments when he had been worried, and then remember that the things he was worrying about had all worked out. In that moment, he could see the truth of what worry is, and how it doesn’t help.
Worry is extra thinking. It’s like you’ve already put frosting on a cake and now you’re piling on more and more frosting. It's not going to do anything except overwhelm the cake.
Worry is also illusory thinking. It feels real because when we worry, we feel adrenaline, we feel scared, we feel anxiety, and so we believe those thoughts.
But if you understand the nature of this kind of thinking, why would it make sense to keep worrying?
The beauty of this work is that when you have an insight and really see the nature of worry, you’ll stop doing it – automatically; worrying simply won’t make sense anymore.
You don’t have to practice to develop this as a habit. You just need to see it, and then you won’t do it anymore. It’s that simple.
I get that this is an ironic time to be talking about freedom from worry. The current news media is filled with stories about the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, and articles about our current administration and the primary and general elections. So, how can we not worry?
When we recognize that worry is extra, then we can settle into our knowing. Wisdom arises and we know what to do, or what not to do, next.