Im Afraid Not to Worry

Dwelling on the past, anticipating and worrying about the future. Sound familiar?  What good does it do since all we have is now?  All it does is lead to anxiety, stress, maybe even physical and emotional disease and distress and keeps us from experiencing our joy.

Seems to make sense.  Especially from a spiritual viewpoint.

Yet,  one of the most daunting “challenges” I find myself facing on my spiritual journey is that of overcoming WORRYING, and not just not worrying butobsessive worrying

When it comes to “worry”, every spiritual teacher I’ve “consulted” says basically “don’t do it”.  More than that, there’s just no reason to do it. It’s useless, doesn’t change anything and is wasteful, negative energy.
It seems you cant be a spiritual person and worry at the same time

Now there are lots of things I’m learning about being on this spiritual path that I “get”.  I understand it intellectually and believe it to my core but often am challenged to integrate these into my operating system.

But of all of these, the one that is the hardest for me to absorb or agree with is why I shouldn’t worry or how not to worry.  I’m just not sure that I agree that worrying doesn’t have any positive outcomes AT ALL and that is a complete waste of time and energy.  Even more than that, given my observations of cause and effect, I have gotten to the point where I actually am afraid NOT to worry.

I know this sounds like spiritual blasphemy and contrary to all Universal Laws of Nature.  And even though Ive got plenty of anxiety and neuroses to support my need to worry, I dont justify it on those grounds even though I do it on those grounds.  Not at all. The reason I’m afraid not to worry is because I haveproof that when you do, it helps.

I bet this is true for you too.  Whenever I have worried the thing that I worried about happening doesn’t.  Therfore, it just seems to risky to take the chance not to.

Eckhart Tolle – one of my favorite authors of spiritual enlightenment says you dont need to “worry” about paying your bills.  You just have to pay them.  I guess thats true.  But I’m not so sure that worrying about paying them doesnt create the impetus necessary to actually pay them! I have gotten to the point of believing in the “power of positive worrying” ( an alternate version to the power of positive thinking) so much that I’m even worried about writing about worry – am I committing heresy by suggesting that worry might be okay in the writing of a blog that purports to promote the tenets of spirituality – love not fear, peace, faith, gratitude, and that thoughts have energy???  YIKES!!! I’m getting worried right now just writing about worrying about this.

Okay, okay – so I can see how this kind of worrying can start to get out of control, and take hold of you and create stories in your head and be energy draining and life limiting.  But I still have the “evidence”.

What Would Eckhart Tolle do?  On this one, I know what he thinks.  And I already know Ive punched some holes in his theory (HA!).  I wanted to consult with the real guru– my mother.  Now my mother will tell you that I exaggerate her “worrisomeness” but I can also tell you that she has been one of the staunchest defenders and best examples.

So I interviewed her to get her perspective.

Here is what I learned

Basically, there are two types of worry

Worry Type #1 –  “Handwringing” – Handwringing is fretting about things you cannot control unless you stay home or plan to arrive three hours early to wherever you are going “just in case”  (which I often do).  To those who suffer (and you know who you are)it is like having a plantars wart in your head that wont go away.  Even I would have to say, it probably doesnt do much good except to drive you and anyone within earshot of you crazy.

Manifestations of this kind of worry look like:  worrying about whether the bill I just put in the mail will get paid in time even though I sent it three weeks early; whether there will be a tsunami that will hit – you know because there is like a one in a trillion chance it could – on the I-81 corridor when I have to drive to see my kids next weekend; whether my boss, relative, friend is mad at me or thinks I’m foolish or stupid because they gave me this funny look that I just know was directed at me and was because of something I did or said or didnt do or didnt say- I just dont know what it was but if i think hard enough maybe I can drum up something — its just not possible that something could be going on with them ( or their boss, relative etc) or maybe that it was just not a “look” at all.

I mean, is it really necessary to worry about the left turn I have to make ten miles down the road just quite yet, especially when I have a GPS (or two) and looked at the map first?  Or to think about whether my tv, internet will still be working and my house still standing everytime I return from a trip?  ( and of this latest writing having written the former sentence over a month ago – just to prove a point — I returned from almost a month away on Christmas Day to find my condo had water damage from three stories above.  I WASN’T worried about it- and see what happened!)

I think even I could be convinced that maybe this kind of worry isnt the reason the tsunami didn’t happen and probably wouldn’t have happened even if I didnt worry.   My rational mind “gets” it.  Im just still not so sure my visceral mind can’t stop taking some comfort in it anyway. But thats why I’m on the path.

Worry Type #2 – Mother Worry

What I learned from my mother – and from being a mother – is this – there’s another kind.

its about the “intention” thats behind the worry. And thats not so neurotic or crazy but maybe just a sign of something else.

my mother worries because she loves me
my mother worries because she cares
my mother worries because she wants me to be safe
and she wants me to be happy

like on one else on Earth wants me to be happy.

I worry for the same reasons about my kids.

Eckhart wouldnt know this. Oprah wouldn’t know this because they are not a parent.

Worry is part of the way a mother (or father)loves.  Its like “chicken soup” – it can’t hurt and it just might help. Its a little extra insurance. And your kids get to know someone cares.  And knowing thats the case, not only am I afraid not to worry, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Sorry kids.

As my mother (and her mother and her mother’s mother) said “just wait- someday you will understand… (especially when they start driving.)”….