If you grow apples, it’s somewhat natural to worry about whether they will sell or not.
But Here’s How Worry Becomes a Vicious Cycle
When you think you shouldn’t worry—and you are worrying—it escalates. Then the mind starts worrying about the fact that you’re worrying.
It then adds on guilt and shame to make it worse: “I shouldn’t be worrying. I worry too much. I should just stop it.”
But that makes it even worse. It’s like telling someone caught in addiction to just stop it—not very helpful.
There Are Two Layers of Stress to be Unpacked about Worry
The first layer is the worry about worrying. And the second is the original worry itself, which is rooted in a sense of danger. The Work of Byron Katie can help bring clarity on both levels.
The worry (or shame) about worrying is contained in thoughts like, “I shouldn’t worry so much.” One client noticed that she originally picked up this thought from her parents, who had told her that she worried too much as a child.
When she questioned this thought, it was radical to consider the turnaround, “I should worry so much.” It went against a very strong belief system that worry was bad. But she found examples of how worry is not such a terrible trait.
It Is Just the Natural Tendency to Problem Solve
Even though it may get out of balance, this natural tendency is not bad. It is coming from a good place to try to avoid problems.
And even when it does get out of balance, worrying is totally understandable, especially if you are sensitive by nature and have experienced perceived or real dangers in the past.
What I love about this turnaround is that it starts to take the shame out of worrying so much. The more examples my client found of why she should worry, the more she relaxed.
That’s what turnarounds are about: balance. This turnaround was medicine for her because it balanced her belief that she worried too much. It doesn’t mean that we should all start worrying more now. It was a turnaround for her, and it brought her more acceptance for what is (her worrying).
But It Was Still Only One Side of the Story
The other side that she discovered is that worry indicates danger. So instead of being a bad thing, worry is just the alarm clock indicating that there is some perceived or real danger. It’s a call to check it out.
If it’s a real danger, then it’s a call to do something about it. This is where problem solving is very helpful. But if it is not a real danger, and worry persists, it’s a call for self-inquiry, doing The Work.
Either way leads to peace: either I solve the problem and move out of the danger, or I realize through inquiry that the problem is not really a problem and I don’t need to worry about it. Or sometimes, if the problem is real but it is not something I can control, then inquiry can help to find acceptance.
Making Peace with Danger
There will always be danger in life. That’s where worry comes from. Worry is the great indicator light letting me know that I think I’m in danger.
When the indicator light goes off, it’s a chance to look and see what is really going on. Is the danger real? If so, what can I do? If not, no problem. And is the danger something I can control? If so, what can I do? If not, how can I make peace with it?
Read more about how The Work of Byron Katie can help sort through what is real and what is not.
Have a great weekend,
“Thinking and worrying will solve all my problems”—has that been your experience?” Byron Katie, Loving What Is