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Don’t Worry, Everything Will Be All Right!

I’m a worrier it’s true. It seems I worry about everything. I have come to understand something, telling someone who worries not to worry is like telling someone who is upset to calm down. In all the history of telling people to calm down no one has calmed down. So it is with worry.

 

I imagine it stems from the loss of my father when I was 3 years old, but I am very fearful at times that something devastating will happen where I could lose everything. So, I worry.

 

I have read articles on how to stop worrying, I have watched videos, I have talked with people and guess what, I still worry. I wonder, do you? Here’s how it works for me and maybe for you.

 

Something will come up for me, let’s say I have a pain in my leg that I have never had before – worry strikes – what if it is serious, what if…. so the worry begins. Once worry has begun then comes reasoning. You know what that is if you are a worrier. You try to reason yourself out of the concern. Something like, oh, I remember bumping my leg yesterday or checking out the other leg to see if it feels the same, or how about this one, going on the internet to check out leg pain to make sure you are all right and not going to die. Any of this sounds familiar?

 

During my quest to remove worrying from my life I have heard sayings such as: “Just let it go” “Think of something different” “It will be all right” “Pray about it” the list goes on and on. Guess what – nothing worked. I tried to let it go, think of something different, talking it out, etc. but the worry stayed.

 

In my life I have done a good job of developing a way of hiding my worry. I can imagine there are a lot of people who don’t even know I am a worrier. But to those who do know I bet I can be a real pain in the ass as I fret and stew about, in this case, the pain in my leg.

 

Sometimes I think people are simply trying to talk me out of worrying because I am a real pain when I am caught up in a worry panic and I’m sure life would be easier for them if I would stop. I wonder if you have worry panics. When they occur the person is consumed with the thought that something bad is going to happen. For me it is the thought that I have made a mistake, a poor choice and as I mentioned earlier I will loose everything. This is a very real panic. I have panicked that a family member or I would lose jobs that would change our lifestyle, I have worried that something bad has happened to a family member when they did not arrive at home at the time they said they would. Hell, I have worried that I left the front door open when I left the house and the dogs would get out.

 

It is at this point I am so glad for Non Violent Communication. Through NVC I have been able to connect to the need behind the anxiety and fear. I have come to understand that I cannot get rid of the worry but I can recognize it and develop life serving strategies that will help me meet my need of trust and confidence. Through NVC I am able to “turn my ears in” and recognize the worry/anxiety and go to a space where I am calmly able to focus on a strategy that works for me to be able to move. Oh, and there are also physical signs of worry for me. My chest and my shoulder get tight. So, when my mind will not stop thinking and my chest and shoulder get tight what do I do? Here’s my strategy, it works for me, I slow down and connect with the situation that is causing my worry. In this case the pain in my leg. I observe what is going on, my chest and shoulder are getting tight and I am thinking of terrible outcomes to my pain. I connect with what I need, I need peace, calm, and trust. Then I do something that was suggested by Tosha Silver in her book Outrageous Openness. In this book Tosha suggests the use of a “God Box.” Apparently, she was a worrier and she developed the idea of the God Box to help her meet her need of peace. The God Box is simply a box, you can decorate it anyway you wish, where you write out your worries and fears and place them in the box. The interesting point for me is there is no hope that God will take away your worries, rather you place the worries in the box knowing that God is in charge of the outcome.

 

So, I identify the worry situation, write out the concern and place it in the box and allow God to be in charge of the outcome. And for me this works to relieve the panic and worry. This works to slow the mind. I have connected with what was going on for me – leg pain – connected with what I was feeling – anxiety and fear – and connected to the need – peace, confidence and trust – and used a strategy that is life affirming – placed the worry in the God Box. That’s the strategy I use to get my need for peace, confidence and trust met. For me it works.

 

So, for you worriers out there, the challenge is to find a strategy that works for you. Connect with your feelings and needs and find a life affirming strategy to get those needs met. Maybe it is a God Box. And, Don’t worry, be happy!

 

Joy to you!

 

Mark

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Hear Our Pain

What has happened in Charlottesville has been a catalyst for so much pain and anger in our country. We saw very angry white men, some carrying weapons, shouting words that were very painful for many people. We saw physical violence amongst people ending with a car being driven into a crowd injuring many and killing one. We saw a president respond with words that a few found encouraging, but most found lacking the understanding of the pain that was happening. And now there are voices describing all parties involved as ‘guilty’ and crying that violence is not the answer.

That is not helping. Through their pain people hear that kind of language as saying “you are at fault”. They hear it as complacency, as being complicit, as not willing to take a stand. Let me be clear, violence is not the answer, but telling people that isn’t going to help. There is something that will help. It’s a language of the heart developed by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg. It’s not nice; it’s authentic. Dr. Rosenberg developed this language not because violence was “wrong”, but because he knew violence didn’t work. It never works. Not for real change. Dr. Rosenberg has us ask ourselves not only what we want others to do, but also why we want them to do it. That’s very important because if people aren’t making more life-affirming choices because they want to, it won’t be real, it won’t last.

We are seeing that continue to be played out with racism in our country. Many of us are feeling angry and hopeless that something we hoped was changing doesn’t seem to be. Some of us are frustrated that others are just now seeing it hasn’t been changing as fast as we hoped. We didn’t address the “why” when we started pushing for racial justice. We never have. We just keep using shame and blame to push for the change. So people just hide what they really think and use more subtle forms of racism, unless they feel comfortable, and then it pops out again. This is the “politically correct” speech we hear talked about. There are people longing to have the freedom to say what they really believe.

So how do we really get the change we are longing for? Oh, it’s going to be difficult. Really, it is. We have got to give the people that are stimulating so much pain in us empathy. We aren’t doing it to be a “good person”, but because the only way those people are going to hear the pain we are experiencing, the only way they are going to take responsibility for this, is for them to get empathy first.

It’s not like Dr. Rosenberg hasn’t personally experienced this, he has. He once got into a cab and not long after the cab driver got a call about the next fare that needed picked up at a synagogue. The cab driver immediately muttered something about the ‘kikes’ that wanted nothing but to cheat people out of their money.

Here is his response:

“For twenty seconds there was smoke coming out of my ears. In earlier years, my first reaction would have been to want to physically hurt such a person. Instead I took a few deep breaths and then gave myself some empathy for the hurt, fear and rage that was stirring inside me. I attended to my feelings. I stayed conscious that my anger wasn’t coming from my fellow passenger nor the statement he had just made. His comment had triggered off a volcano inside of me, but I knew that my anger and profound fear came from a deeper source that those words he had just uttered. I sat back and simply allowed the violent thoughts to play themselves out. I even enjoyed the image of actually grabbing his head and smashing it. Giving myself this empathy enabled me to focus my attention on the humanness behind the message…I tried to empathize with him, to hear his pain. Why? Because I wanted to see the beauty in him, and I wanted him to fully apprehend what I had experienced when he made his remark.” (Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, 3rd Ed.)

So we now need the kind of warriors that have the courage to be with the pain that is happening right now, and then have the ability to give people enough empathy that we can get them to hear and grieve the pain their choices are responsible for. I have no doubt that many if not all of the people espousing white supremacist beliefs are in pain. And I think they believe the choices they are making are the right choices, but they aren’t. There is so much pain out there, and has been. It’s manifesting itself now. Now can be the time for real change. Now can be the time people learn to behave in more life affirming inclusive ways, but do it because they understand when others are in pain, they are as well. They will change because they want to, it will be a change that works for everyone.

This isn’t hiding in complacency; this is stepping out in courage, confronting pain and giving empathy. This is holding people responsible for their thoughts, words and actions. This will in itself be painful, but it will be so much better than what we have already been living in. This isn’t being nice; this is being effective.

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