LightLessonsBlog with Patsie McCandless: Worry

Release WORRY & Welcome CALM

Worry and anxiety are leading too many people – especially our children – into debilitating depression. It’s time to find a way to release worry and welcome calm.

There are times in life when things are difficult, especially when they pop up on you, totally unexpected. You may feel perplexed or baffled because you can’t control the situation. Your stomach flip-flops and the sensation quickly spreads throughout your body. You stop… hesitate…. feeling uncertain… vulnerable. That gives your mind an opening to begin feeling doubtful and anxious. Then your imagination takes over, swelling your impressions into a raging river of negative thoughts.

Whoa! How did that happen? What is this thing we call worry? And what does it mean for you?

Let’s take a look at worry and find a simple way to release worry and find the calm, because worrying does not take away your troubles. It takes away your calm.

Worry & Calm in Becoming Jesse

In my family classic novel, Becoming Jesse, his best friend is Billy Maguire. But Billy has met with an accident and he needs rest. Jesse knows that Billy is truly fine… so fine. But Billy’s mother, Teresa is worried and anxious about him. Jesse and Teresa have a conversation about “Worrying” as they go down the stairs to the apartment lobby.

Teresa Maguire shook her head. “You can’t see Billy now, Jesse. Billy’s sleeping. He’s worn thin. I’m so worried about him.”

“Oh no!” Jesse’s innocent voice cautioned. “Not worry.”

“It’s my job to worry. That’s what mothers do.”

Jesse wagged his head, “No.” He looked into Teresa’s face. “Dearie says mothers Love their children.”

“Well, of course,” Theresa rustled, “Worrying shows how much I love Billy.”

“No,” Jesse said sensibly. “Dearie says love and worry are two ut-ter-ly different streams of energy. No match. Worry is a black cloud. Love is a shiny light.”

Teresa’s shoulders sagged. “So now I can’t worry?”

“It won’t help.” Jesse’s head wagged and he added, “At all.”

“Well, I’m goin’ to church to light a candle for Billy.”

Jesse hopped down the last step into the lobby. “That’s great! A love-Light! Oh, Billy will be back in no time!”

 Worry Doesn’t Help

Jesse has been taught to know his inner Light and keep it shining, even through the worst of things. His innocent wisdom holds a great deal of truth and helpful direction. He knows how useless it is to worry  – and how important it is to release worry and find your calm.

You’ve heard the old saying: Worry is like sitting in a rocking chair, moving back and forth: you use up a lot of energy, but it gets you nowhere. Worry can actually make things worse.

Worry can harm your Well-Being

The negativity of worry can take a hefty toll on you… all of you.

Worry negatively affects your body, bringing on a constant restlessness, headaches, sleeping disorders, raising your blood pressure, and squashing your immune system.

Furthermore, your mind can get into a tangle with a surge of negative thoughts. Once your brain gets a hold of worry, it is very challenging to let it go. It runs the inner movie of your worries over-and-over again. It makes you feel the need to solve the puzzle that is worrying you. But, the more you wrestle with it the more it ties you up, because the more you try not to think about your worry, the more preoccupied your mind becomes with that very thought.

Next, your emotions become debilitated by fear and anxiety and they can take over your whole physical system, leading to clinical depression.

Worrying is not a solution, it IS the problem.

How Do You Respond to Worry?

Okay, so you can’t change – or control – whatever is happening around you. But that doesn’t mean you can’t release worry and find calm.

There is another direction available to you: your choice. You get to choose how you react. Will you keep the cycle going by chewing on the bad? Or will you pivot to something useful and helpful?

It is all in your response. You are one simple step away from letting go of the negative worry and literally stepping into a positive choice.

Becoming Jesse presents just such a choice:

Conor wagged his head. “I wish I had the answers to all my problems.”

Jesse picked up an orange crayon and opened his coloring pad. He drew a big circle with happy-fun eyes and mouth. Next to it, he drew a big circle with sad-mad eyes and mouth. Underneath he wrote: You choose. Two faces. One happy. One sad. That was all.  

You Choose.

Pivot: It will Release Worry and Find Your Calm

Jesse knows that you get to Choose. That is how you pivot out of worry.

Pivoting means to stop brooding by thinking – and doing – a new thought or activity. This simple step can quickly release worry and find your calm.

I like to say it’s all about stepping into your Light. Literally. Spin on your foot > to a new direction. Go to a window or door, or better yet, go outdoors. Find something completely different to which you give your attention. Feel your Light spark ever more brightly.

A friend once told me to go out and start counting the leaves on a bush! She said to be sure that I touch each leaf as I counted. When I got to 75, I was to stop, stand back and look at the leaves that I had counted.

I actually did it!

What I discovered first, was that my mind shifted completely away from my worry. I thought, Gosh, 75 seems like a lot of leaves to count – yet when I finished, I found that it was actually a very small part of the bush. I felt a shift from a little picture to the big picture. It was a new perspective.

That led me to a different thought, namely, that the leaves are all still there and they will most likely be there tomorrow and the next day. Those leaves do not worry about… anything! They simply BE.

Basically, I found the present moment – in a leaf! It’s about finding a fresh perspective. It may sound ridiculous, yet simply spending time out in nature has an instructive, calming and healing effect on the mind and body.

Find Your Calm

Finding the calm is a form of meditation. Now meditation is marvelous, but it does not always work. Sometimes it’s just too challenging to get your mind to be quiet!

In spite of that, you can find your calm just by doing something in a quiet, contented way. It can work wonders. Snuggle with your love-adore children – or your cuddly cat or dog – have a soothing cup of tea – read inspirational stories (I still enjoy the ‘old chestnut’ stories from Chicken Soup for the Soul, Hansen & Canfield) – write in a journal – count the leaves on a bush!

Also, there are different types of meditation that you can practice. You don’t always have to be sitting cross-legged in a Buddha pose. Sitting quietly in a peaceful place, or even eating quietly, savoring and appreciating each taste. One of my favorites is a walking meditation, outdoors in the calming, restorative world of Nature.

Take a walk. Outside. Alone. Experience the quiet air, the open sky, clouds breezing along, trees shifting the shadows along your way. Birds are another source of help, for they represent freedom. It is very soothing to hear the song of a bird and watch it twittering or gliding through the open sky.

You – your body, mind and feelings – enter into a meditative state. You can let go of whatever stress you were feeling – let go of everything that was bottled up inside you.

Meditation begins with your breath – softly, deeply, quietly –  in and out. If you do not have the time for any other practice, simply concentrate on your breathing. Take a look at Thought Bubbles! Mindfulness for Children. It is a thought-awareness practice to help you and your children and grandchildren let go of fear and worry.

Fear Not… Worry Not…

All of this talk about fear and worry reminds me of another story in Becoming Jesse when… Jesse’s uncle Conor was talking about the polio epidemic that gripped NYC.

Jesse heard Conor’s explanation, and he knew polio was serious, but he remembered Dearie’s words from her wise old storyteller, Old Barret:

“Oh, the world is bent on parading life’s miseries. You have t’ be on the lookout, to choose your best thoughts. Bad thoughts and bad words are only going to bring on more of the bad. Worry not. Fear not … for they are but thieves here to steal your Light. Instead, you choose the bliss-t!”

“Jesse said nothing to Conor, but he pivoted to the window. He saw the mighty oak tree – the Tree of Life – rising up in the courtyard, into the Light. It was oblivious to the weather or wearies of the world. Jesse decided to choose his Lights and just BE, like the Tree of Life itself.”

This is how you can leave worry up in its black cloud and find your way into the shine-y light of calm.