“It is not the end of the physical body that should worry us. Rather, our concern must be to live while we’re alive – to release our inner selves from the spiritual death that comes with living behind a facade designed to conform to external definitions of who and what we are.” Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
Recently I was working with a woman (let’s call her Dana) who worries about everything.
Tell her that you’re traveling and she’ll worry about the roads, the conditions, dangerous people and armadillos.
Tell her that you’re excited about a new friendship and she immediately jumps to all the reasons why making new friends is hard and that none of us should trust anyone and even old friends will feel slighted.
Tell her that you’re curious about a new job or personal passion and she can’t wait to tell you that you how dangerous it is to change course in today’s economic climate and remind you that you just don’t know how hard it’s going to be.
Whether her loved ones mention their own trepidations or they’re thoroughly thrilled with their new vision she will find something to worry about.
If they don’t climb on board with her then it’s her loved ones that are being unrealistic and naive. (The world is, after all, a very harsh, deceptive, vindictive and selfish place and isn’t it better just to keep your head down and play it safe?)
I was using “The Work” of Byron Katie which is a 4 question process to help her identify an alternate truth about one particular worry she was carrying around about a friend of hers. I got to the third question, “who would you be without the thought?” designed to help people understand that living without their hurtful thoughts increases energy and creates a sense of empowerment and she answered, “well, I’d be just like any person off the street who doesn’t know her or care about her.”
She discovered that she worried about worst case scenarios because a part of her believed that worry is an act of love.
Dana felt, deeply, that if she didn’t worry she must not care. Dana cares about a LOT of people! She has a husband and grown children. She has neighbors, friends, family and coworkers all of whom are living their lives out there in the real world where there are real risks and boogeymen. Imagine how heavy she must feel with the worry for all of them!
The truth of worry is that it is actually quite the opposite of love. Worry is fear.
- When we worry we carry our own selfish agenda for the life of another person.
- When we worry we say that our idea of “right,” “safe” or “valuable” should be their idea of “right,” “safe” or “valuable.”
- When we worry we devalue the path our loved ones have chosen; we ask them to design their life according to our plan or else very bad things will happen.
Not only do we cease to honor the lives and choices of others with our worry we also cease to be a resource for them on their journey. When someone desires a purpose-filled life and begins to take action on that desire they need people in their lives who can encourage them and be there for them as they make mistakes and grow themselves into their new identities. We cannot be that truly loving and kind friend when we’re telling them they can’t do it, shouldn’t do it or worse, “I told you so.”
Even when the intent is pure (“I just don’t want to see them get hurt”) we deny our most favorite people their life experience when we impose our will into their lives and inject fear into their visions.
What I know about partnering with people:
- I know I feel best and express my love for others most effectively when I meet them where they are and come with the message, “whether I get it or not, I have faith in you and your journey and I support you with love, light and visions of your success.”
- I know I’m best able to help them research and be prepared for all possible outcomes when my head is present and clear (instead of being muddled in worry) which means we’re all more prepared to deal with hiccups and obstacles.
- I know there will be hardship on any path no matter how “safe” we think it is – so there is no “I told you so” there is only “I’m here for you.”
- I know I’m also able to deal with the real conditions of my own life when I’m not wrapped up in some worst case scenario in the lives of others. This presence keeps me full and happy so that when my loved ones do need support I’m not already exasperated and burnt out.
While it may be true that the world is a harsh, deceptive, vindictive and selfish place, it is also true that the world is a very safe, honest, vulnerable and giving place. I know I can think of evidence for both sides of that coin and my choice is clear…
I am certainly more valuable to the partners in my life when I capitalize on the positive truth so that they can feel more empowered, courageous and prepared for when the negative truth trickles in.
After all, isn’t an empowered life what we really want for all of us?