Now that all your worry has proved such an unlucrative business, Why not find a better job.
I’ve got a job I’d like you to do. If you want it, it’s yours. Oh, you won’t like it at all, and it won’t make you much money to speak of. Besides that, over time, it will really damage your brain. What do you say? Want to try it?
So says Hafiz about life-long worrying, and so says recent brain research on what holding negative thoughts does to our brains, over time. Why not find a better job, he asks.
It’s not so much that any of us want an awful job that makes us sick and miserable to be around. It’s that this thing called worry can be really difficult for us to stop doing. If worry plagues you, it is my suspicion that this may be an old pattern–maybe one that stretches back into childhood.
The dark of the bedroom was for me, as a child, a very scary place. That’s not unusual, but there are also plenty of children who are never afraid of the dark. I was. And, there was not anything my parents could say that made it any better. Ultimately, I was just supposed to, well, stop. Easier said than done.
I’m not much of a walking around worrier, but just let me wake up in the middle of the night. I’ve long made my peace with the actual darkness of night–even to the point of rather liking it. The longer nights and shadows of the winter are really welcome to me, like a blanket that can be so comforting. But, if something wakes me up in the middle of the night, an old pattern steps up. Let’s think about all of the things that might go wrong. Within seconds I can feel my heart rate jump up and my breathing accelerate. Before I know it, I’ve been awake for an hour or more worrying about one thing or another. Hours later when I am up and in the world and remember these things, they just seem so unworthy of my worry.
Even the things that seem worthy of our worry are probably always unworthy of our worry. Worry is pouring so much of our life force into the future which we cannot control, and it is an abdication of tending the present moment–the only time we ever really have.
I’ve learned that in those middle of the night worry sessions that I can choose to be present. My inner dialogue goes like this. Well, if I am going to be awake for a couple of hours, I might as well enjoy my breathing instead of pouring myself into a future I cannot control. Then, I begin focusing on each in breath and out breath. I can enjoy my breath for a couple of hours.
Except that about three breaths in, I fall back asleep.
That is a much more lucrative job–enjoying each breath. I highly recommend it, and I recommend it first to myself because I will likely wake up again some night this week and start to worry. I recommend it to you if worry is a problem for you. At night or by day, we can choose to be present to what is right now. I recommend being present to us all, because when we are more here than stretched out into the future, we are a powerful force in the world–together.
May we be peaceful and at ease. May we be whole.