don’t worry, be happy
Once I stopped worrying for 14 years. I used to worry about everything, the past, the future, things I’d said, things I hadn’t said, what was, what might be and even what wasn’t. Until one day, when I was in my mid twenties, midway through a multi year journey of discovery, devouring self help books, joining women’s groups and doing initiation weekends, I took part in an empowering weekend called healing the wounds of shame. I didn’t really understand shame and in case you still don’t, shame is when you feel bad about who you are, guilt is when you feel bad about something you’ve done. The majority of humans really have no reason to feel shame, yet an awful lot seem to. Guilt, perhaps, most of us have done something dumb we’ve regretted at least once in our lives, guilt can be a healthy reminder to change our behaviour. Shame on the other hand serves only to bring us down.
On the weekend we learnt about shame, about how we carried shame that was not ours to carry and we learnt about living without shame. It was an emotional weekend with ups and downs and lots of affirmation and I finished it feeling wonderfully uplifted but not really aware of any life changing shift. As I left the venue, in a crowd of women, I saw a strange man in the backseat of my friends car. When challenged he said it was his car. Which was strange because clearly it wasn’t. When confronted with this he snatched something from the car and ran off. I’m not sure what I would have done before that weekend but now I was not letting this man take anything. I yelled and stayed with him as he tried to get away until he turned and pulled out a tiny knife, at which point I became louder and angrier and he threw the purse he had taken from the car and ran away. Phew that was an adrenaline rush. A stupid one but anyway. And I went on my way. It was only a few weeks later that I realised I wasn’t worrying about tomorrow. About anything for that matter. Don’t get me wrong I was not oblivious to the world. I just seemed somewhat miraculously to be living in it. In the moment. Thinking, feeling, reacting in that moment. Not what I had been used to at all! And on I went. For about 14 years actually.
I wasn’t really aware I was worrying again to such an extent until recently, although I’ve been worrying for a while again now I think. This trip that I had always wanted to do becoming a reality, leaving everything I knew, ooh there was such ripe fodder for worrying and I unconsciously seized upon it. I blogged about it but still was oblivious to the extent of my worry. Sleepless nights followed nights filled with crazy worry filled dreams. The trip began and the worries magnified. Every possible outcome fighting for airtime in my addled brain. ENOUGH I screamed. Ok it was more of an exhausted plea but it was enough to make me aware. Enough for me to stop and have a talk with myself. This trip is amazing, wonderful, once in a lifetime unbelievable and I am not prepared to ruin it by worrying about a million things that may never happen. I will deal with each day as it arises and pretty sure most of my worry fuelled scenarios never will arise anyway.
That sounds so simple but really all the messages we give ourselves once made conscious are changeable. When the worry thoughts appear, because I’m not a magician I can’t just make them disappear, I have a little chat with myself. Soothe myself, tell myself it will all be ok and other things that work for me. I have been planning and thinking things through in a positive way. And not gone, but already lessened I know soon the incessant worry will be forgotten and once more I’ll be living in the moment. It would be such a waste to have wished for this experience and then to worry my way through it!
I read something about worry once, how utterly pointless it is. It will never change an outcome, not like planning and preparation can. It will needlessly rob you of happy days and do nothing to ease the bad ones.
“The greatest grief’s are those we cause ourselves.” Sophocles
“That the birds of worry and care fly over your head, this you cannot change, but that they build nests in your hair, this you can prevent.” Chinese Proverb
“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.” Leo Buscaglia
“Every day give yourself a good mental shampoo.” Sara Jordan, M.D.
“Worry a little bit every day and in a lifetime you will lose a couple of years. If something is wrong, fix it if you can. But train yourself not to worry: Worry never fixes anything.” Ernest Hemingway
“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.” John Milton
With a little consciousness, a little gentleness, and a little time, and by my having shone a light into worry’s dark hidey hole I am planning to banish worry for another 14 years.
nb I am not a trained professional, this is my experience and my journey, if you are carrying shame or worries I hope you are able to find the help you need to move on with your life without them Xx