One of the biggest obstacles to maintaining a consistent attitude of gratitude toward life is the tendency to worry.  Worry is a symptom of fear, but then if you’re a worrier you already know that, don’t you?.  Worry is obsessive and addicting.  Once your brain latches on to a worrisome thought, it tends to get stuck there and attract more worried thoughts just like it.  The bad part is that once your brain gets stuck in that worrying mode, you’re sending out some powerful negative energy that is attracting into your life the very thing that you’re worried about.  Worry sets you up for the worst kind of self-fulfilling prophecy.

I remember when I was much younger, watching Gone With the Wind and looking down on Scarlett O’Hara with disdain when she exclaimed, “Fiddle-dee-dee!  I won’t worry about that today.  I’ll worry about that tomorrow.  After all, tomorrow is another day!”  I felt superior because I would never be that irresponsible.  Responsible people would be worrying about that stuff TODAY, not tomorrow.  We must face up to our hardships!  We can’t just be in denial!

Now that I’m older, although really not so much wiser, I’m beginning to see that Scarlett was actually on to something.   For all that Scarlett may have seemed irresponsible to me, she also had a lot of backbone and resilience.  Scarlett survived incredible hardships precisely because she didn’t spend any energy worrying about how bad the situation was.  (That was mealy mouthed Melanie’s job. )  Scarlett was strong and she was adaptable.  Rather than worry, she looked for openings and jumped when the jumping was good.  Scarlett knew what she wanted, and did what needed to be done to reach her goals.     She was a survivor.

When we worry, we lose that Scarlett O’Hara power to focus on solutions.  Instead, we’re focused on the problem so much that all that we can see is the problem.  As a result, we get more and more of the same problem, and then we feel justified in worrying all the more.  Instead of meeting our problems head on, constant worry causes us to curl up into a ball and do nothing.  Worry and fear immobilize us.  They are the polar opposite of personal empowerment.

My own path toward personal empowerment has led me to study Reiki.  I find it interesting that the first of the five basic reiki principles is this:  “Just for today, do not worry.”   Until recently, I’ve always focused on the second half of that principle, not to worry.   I’ve studied many teachings on the power of deliberate creation, and know that we attract into our lives that which we consistently focus on and feel strongly about.  But knowing not to worry and actually being able to pull it off are two very different things.    Once fear gets its gnarly hooks into my brain it doesn’t let go easily.

Recently, however, I’ve started paying attention to the first half of the principle:  Just For Today.   The principle seems to acknowledge the fact that as humans we will worry.  But maybe we can learn to postpone our worrying until tomorrow.  If we, like Scarlett O’Hara, can postpone our worrying until tomorrow, that gives our poor exhausted brains an entire day’s rest from worry.  Just think what we could do with a day like that.  We might be peaceful and still long enough to notice birds singing and children laughing.  We might find a quiet moment just to sit and breathe in the fresh air.  We might look around and see that there are things in our lives other than the one thing we want to worry about:  things that are wonderful, things that make us laugh, things that can make us really happy if we let them.  If we release our brain from the feedback loop of constant worry, we may even find some creative solution to our situation.

I’ve tried this a few times, and I’ve almost never made it through a full day of not worrying.  But by trying, I have managed to  gain some moments of calm stillness.  I’ve found that if I stop worrying even for just a little while, joy begins to seep in where fear had once been, and I begin to find more things in my life for which to be grateful.

So the next time you find yourself worrying, take a hint from Scarlett O’Hara and just say “Fiddle-dee-dee!”  Just for today, make it a point to postpone your worrying until tomorrow.  After all, tomorrow is another day.

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