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How to stop living in a state of constant worry

How to stop living in a state of constant worry
Note: This is a guest essay by Denise Barry

I love the feeling of safety.

I love when my kids are asleep in their rooms at night, the dog is at the foot of my bed and my husband is home, instead of traveling for work.

All is well on a night like this.

Until the phone rings.

Why would someone be calling NOW?

I panic. It’s late (after 9 is late to me), so it has to be bad news!

I feel the ground under my feet caving in. I consider not answering the phone, because I’m terrified of how my life will change with the words I hear.

I answer it anyway, because I have to know.

It’s a wrong number.

When the anxiety wears off, life is good again.

I fall to sleep peacefully, feeling safe and secure.

How silly of me to think something was wrong.

And then one day my son doesn’t come home from school on time and I don’t know why. What if he’s been kidnapped? What if he was bullied and beaten and he can’t get help?

Or I get an unusual pain in my stomach. What is this weird pain? Could it be cancer? It has to be, because why else would I have a pain in my stomach? If I have cancer who will take care of my family? I can’t die, my dad will be devastated! He lost his wife and his firstborn daughter…he can’t lose me too!

I love the feeling of safety. But I rarely feel it.

I’m always looking for the permanence of things. But deep down, I know there isn’t any. We all know this on some level, don’t we? That’s a hard pill to swallow, isn’t it?

I’ve been known to push away feelings of happiness because I’m afraid they won’t last. Sometimes I do this by bringing up old annoyances, like digging up the fact that I never got an apology from my husband after he said something I didn’t like. This happened years ago!

It’s like I’m afraid to feel too good, because when it’s taken from me, it will hurt. It’s a form of protection, I guess. But it robs me of joy. It robs me of LIFE. I refuse to recognize the moment I’m in now, because I’m so concerned about what happened in the past, or what will happen in the future.

I live in my head.

We all want to think it will all be okay. Forever. But it won’t be. Forever doesn’t even exist in this ever-changing world.

Jobs will be lost. Money will dwindle. People will die, get sick or leave us. Vacations will be ruined. Coffee will be spilled.

What if we could be okay with that feeling of groundlessness – not feeling safe or loved or accepted or in control?

I’m not suggesting we should expect bad things to happen to us. Aren’t “bad” and “good” just concepts anyway? We choose what we consider “bad” and “good” for ourselves. Or it was chosen for us once upon a time, and we own it now.

Everyone has different concepts, although some are universal. Winning the lottery is universally a “good” thing. So is becoming “rich and famous.” Right? Not necessarily. Research has proven that people in these positions are no happier than the rest of us. Yet that concept is still firmly held by many people.

Then there’s the universal concept of what’s “bad” in life. Like a loved one dying.

The moment I was told that my sister had died, I felt calm. I felt like it was the way it is supposed to be. I accepted it. But then immediately, all these deeply ingrained thoughts came in to contradict what I felt in my heart, and everyone around me was freaking out. So I freaked out too. Later, I told myself that what I had felt wasn’t real. I was just in shock. But was I really? Or had I accepted what is?

I wonder, if I had accepted the feelings that came in after the calm, if I had just let them be there, would they have passed eventually?

I know that any time which I feel like life hasn’t been fair to me, that I suffer. “Life” can be a person not apologizing to me, a situation where I felt cheated, an experience that wasn’t pleasant. But especially, for me, it’s the feeling that I don’t know what’s going to happen next.

The worst irrational  fear I have is that I’ll be buried alive. Literally. I can visualize this so well, it’s scary. I feel what it would feel like. I get this way when I’m worried about something. Needless to say, it brings on a panic attack.

What I’m learning is that I can live with these feelings, even one as terrifying as this.

 When I accept the rawness of my feelings, they eventually leave.

Accepting isn’t the same thing as repressing. When we repress a feeling it gets buried and becomes very damaging to us, both physically and mentally. Chasing a feeling (or struggling against it being there) is just as damaging. It grows enormous, and so does the story we tell ourselves about it, and anybody who will listen!

Accepting a feeling means to allow it in. To acknowledge it’s presence.

You can even welcome it, if that’s possible. At first it may intensify. This is because we are noticing it and allowing it to surface, rather than telling a story about it or pushing it away.

Yes, I know it hurts! But when you allow yourself to feel it in the moment, it’s nothing compared to what it can do if left abandoned and unloved. You can acknowledge it and send it on it’s way and you don’t even have to know where it goes! It will find its own way home. You’ve already done your job.

The benefit of this is greater than I can explain. But I will say, you will have so much more space inside of you – for happiness to come through. For love to shine. For joy to escape. Your thought patterns will change and so will your behaviors. Every cell of your body will thank you because this is where our emotions are stored. This is why our cells break down to create dis-ease.

But, don’t take my word for it! Find out for yourself.

You have nothing to lose but anger, sadness, grief, fear and lack of any kind….

Shared with love by Denise Barry. Learn more about Denise here.


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Karen Salmansohn (Founder)

Hi I’m Karen Salmansohn, founder of NotSalmon. My mission is to offer you easy-to-understand insights and tools to empower you to bloom into your happiest, highest potential self. I use playful analogies, feisty humor, and stylish graphics to distill big ideas – going as far back as ancient wisdom from Aristotle, Buddhism and Darwin to the latest research studies from Cognitive Therapy, Neuro Linquistic Programming, Neuroscience, Positive Psychology, Quantum Physics, Nutritional Studies – and then some.

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