Hang On, Let Me Worry About It
It is 4:13am and I am sitting here struggling with so much. Thoughts of life and death, money, time, kids, sleep, God…in essence, Life. How many nights have I spent engaged in worry over some aspect of this life? How much time and energy have I waisted on worry? After that many years engaged in the same activity, you would think it would have gotten me somewhere! It is a cycle that I keep repeating though. Why? The definition of insanity is to repeat the same action and expect a different outcome. So why do I keep on worrying?
The answer is fear. Fear of something or someone. It seems to be programming that is older than I am. It feels like a left-over from the stone age; some ancestral game plan to get through until tomorrow.
Worrying over something seems to give me time to puzzle it out. That’s what I tell myself. It is still fear. Fear of life and death. Fear of money or the lack thereof. Fear that there isn’t enough time. Fear for the well-being of my kids.
Worry, I am figuring out, is the shifting of my focus from the thing, to the fear of the thing. Fearing it does nothing but place barrier between me and life; or me and money; or me and my kids. So why has worry become my ‘go to reaction’? This is what I am worried about now. Haha. I am really puzzled about this! Why do I choose fear first? Some say that we worry because of the unpredictability of the future. Some say that it is because we become “aware” of life’s insecurity. We all want a rock to hang on to and when we don’t find it right away, we worry.
So where does fear come from? Some say that it is a skill you develop. From a childhood full of abuse, I can buy that one rather easily. I decided to investigate my fear of worry, which is another fear… Are you dizzy yet? I am. When I am confused, I seek out the counsel of a friend, mentor or Spiritual leader. In a pinch I’ll start with Google. I mean, if Google can’t answer it we are meant to think the world will end, right? I am fortunate however to have some really great and intelligent friends who are willing to share with me. So rather than starting with Google, I started with one of the smartest friends I have who just so happens to know A LOT about the brain and how it functions.
Her name is Dr. Jeri LaVigne. She is an educational and health psychologist who has been working in the Atlanta area for more than 30 years helping children and adults reach their goals and dreams by teaching them how to better process information. Once people understand how they process or do not process the vital information that they have to take in and understand, Jeri works with them to fill in the gaps and help them acquire that information and process it more fully. She is a fantastic woman, a wonderful friend and really knows her stuff!
So I asked her, “Where does fear come from?” This is her response:
“Fear happens when we are triggered beyond our ability to stay within our window of tolerance in any given situation. The different areas of the brain stop communicating and our pre-frontal cortex function stops. It simply stops communicating and we have no reason or any real ability to think. We are left with the amygdala, that fight, flight or freeze response. The amygdala has a giant Rolodex of information that is based on our response to every situation that’s been stored in the memory bank. The amygdala quickly, I mean in a millisecond quickly, goes through this information to see how the body and the brain have responded to similar situations like the one it’s in now. Based on what the amygdala comes up with, it decides if the signal is an emergency or not. When the amygdala starts to see all situations as fearful, and if the cortex is not strong enough to override the amygdala, the brain is hijacked. The amygdala is in charge, and the body is being run by the emotion of fear. The mind is incapable of thinking rationally and just reacts instead of responds at this point.” ~Dr. Jeri LaVigne
Ok. My interpretation: You get scared and go apeshit. Got it. So I guess the worry comes from the want to stay away from that point. That moment when your mind gets “hijacked”. I believe that we bring to us or manifest what we focus on. So if I am focused on worry, I bring about more worry. If I focus on fear, I bring more fear. So how do I eliminate worry? I quit worrying. Simple, huh?
That, I have figured out, is where faith comes in. That’s how I break the cycle of worry. I have faith that I am in the right moment, at the right time and I am exactly where I am suppose to be. Do I still worry then? Yes, but not for as long anymore. I also don’t go there as quickly. I can actually breathe first and then look at the situation.
It hasn’t stopped the worry yet but I know it will. Faith. Does it mean I have less faith because I worry? No. I don’t think so. Faith is an exercise just like walking. The first time I walked a mile I was out of breath and muscles that I hadn’t used in a long time screamed at me. The next time I was still out of breath but I recover more quickly. Faith is like that. When I exercise it, it tends to push away the worry longer or cuts it off quicker than before.
The only way to stop worrying is to worry less. Seems like a contradiction but with the right exercise, I believe I can do it. Perhaps, the only way to conquer fear is to question it, so as to disarm it? Effectively removing the teeth from the monster. It doesn’t mean the monster won’t bite, just that I’m less likely to be bitten…hmmmmmm…
I am ready to walk the next mile now. Who’s with me?
(For more information on fear or the way the brain processes information, check out Dr. LaVigne’s website: efficientbrain.com)