Worry is an Upper Limit Problem. Gay Hendricks, author of The Big Leap, says as soon as we experience positive feelings we tend to disrupt the positive experience with worry (or a number of other slick tricks!).
Worrying tends to be an investment that pays no dividends and always ends up in deficit.
We make up imaginary scenarios, most don’t happen, yet our bodies interpret each imaginary scene as a real-time threat. Our breath shortens, muscles tighten and stress hormones slowly and continuously release.
It’s so constant that most of us don’t recognize it, the same way we don’t notice the air we breath. With fierce attention we can let go of worry and expand our capacity to feel really good for longer periods of time.
Who doesn’t want that?
Here’s my real-life attempt at it:
It was a warmish winter day for coastal Maine. I was psyched to be out getting some fresh air with my dog Arjuna and my baby Sophia. My hope was that fresh air would help her take a nice nap later on and bring a ton of joy to stir-crazy Arjuna. Arjuna’s ears were perked up as he trotted in front of us all while pretending to lose the ball so he could find it again.
As I watched him, I noticed a tiny limp… or so I thought. Is that a limp? He’d cut his paw the day before. I told my neighbor that we’d go for a hike with our dogs in the afternoon. Maybe I should cancel? Did I need to get his paw wrapped? Should I call my vet friends or just give it time?
I caught myself… I was in a cycle of worry that felt real and legit.
Habitual fear-based programing will always resist letting go of worry. It will tell you “This IS a problem,” and make a case to continuously play out all of the scenarios.
Yes the cut it real, but it’s closed up, with no swelling or infection. I assured my fear-based mind that Arjuna was happy, not bleeding, and there was nothing to fix in that moment. I decided to expand my capacity for positive energy flow and drop it.
Hendricks 7 steps (paraphrased):
1. Notice that you’re worrying about something.
2. Decide to drop it (it is actually that easy).
3. Ask: What positive new thing is trying to come into being?
4. Look for a positive feeling in your body to arise.
5. Take time to observe and feel it.
6. Feel it deeply for as long as possible (expanding capacity for positive feelings).
7. Subsequently, more concrete images or ideas may arise of “positive things that were trying to arise” that your worrying was squelching.
My chest began to feel more expansive. I felt light. I felt clear. The positive thing I was blocking was my ability to take in the fresh air and enjoy being a stay-at-home mom. Something I haven’t allowed myself to land in fully. By dropping the worry, I opened myself up to receive the gift of this incredible moment with my family.
Sophia began to fall asleep. “F*ck! Don’t fall asleep now! We’re almost home. What am I going to do? Can she take her entire nap in the stroller? How will I get the stroller up the stairs? Can I transfer her to her warm, dark, cozy room? Will she wake up? Will this mess up her nap schedule and her whole day?”
Wow! I was at it again. I was hitting an upper limit of my ability to experience present moment joy. So again, I dropped the worry. Took a breath. Searched for all the good feelings in my body. Lightness. Fresh Air. Gratitude. Ahhh… So this is the practice.
The process is shocking, and inspiring. I’d like to think I’m a pretty positive person, yet look at the number of times I blocked my own ability to hang out in pleasure within a five-minute period.
We have the opportunity to train our brains to receive and feel the gifts that are always being offered and to see opportunities that a worrying brain simply cannot see. Tony Robins says he created the life he wanted. He trains his brain every day. When he gets upset, he gives himself 90 seconds to get coherent so his brain and heart are in synch. The only place good choices can come from.
As for the things I could have worried about: Sophia kept sleeping and I was able to eat lunch, read, take a power nap, and write this blog. As for Arjuna, he passed out with a grin on his face.
I assume I’m not alone in this. I’m guessing you worry too. I’m inviting you to experiment for one day. See what it feels like to let go of your worries the moment you spot them. Then observe any positive ideas, opportunities or feelings that enter your body or mind.
Feel the good that comes to you as fully as you can for as long as you can. Increase your capacity to feel good.
Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
I’m right there with you…
In expanding our capacity for abundance, love and connection,