If you ‘want’ to stop worrying, that ‘want’ may become a new worry!
“How can I stop worrying,” asked a reader over Facebook Messenger. “I have tried meditation, prayer, physical exercise, but I am unable to get rid of my sense of insecurity and worry. I feel miserable,” she added.
I have a simple take on this. You cannot stop worry from arising in you. You can only postpone worrying by being aware of what you are thinking.
Let us understand why you worry in the first place. You worry about things, people, events, money, health, relationships, your job, because you want them in your control or you want to know more about them or both. And when you are unable to do any of that, you worry. You say that you want a job. Is that a worry? Hardly. Will you get that job? Now, that’s a worry: because you want to control the outcome of your want and you want information about the future. My wife has gone to meet a friend. Is that a worry? Not really. But who is that friend? It is this greed for the detail, for that information, that will spawn a worry. And then the issue is no longer about the wife meeting the friend, it is about the gender of the friend and then it morphs into another, new, nagging worry: is my wife cheating on me?
Next, understand that in the time that you spend worrying, you are missing living! You cannot do both at the same time. You can either live. Or you can worry. If you are worrying, be sure, you may be alive, breathing, seeing and doing, but you are not living! The nature of the human mind is that it will keep churning out thoughts incessantly and most of them will be about your worries. If you want to stop worrying, then that want may now become a new worry!
How do you contain this human urge to want to control what’s going on and/or keep seeking information on what’s going on? The simple truth is, you can’t. So, wanting to stop worrying is an improbable vision to begin with. What you can do, however, is to be alive, live fully! When you are filling out your job application, for instance, why do you worry about the outcome of the effort? Focus on the application you are preparing. Pour your heart into it. Postpone any worries that may arise. Don’t let your mind wander. Bring it to attend on the only, supremely important, singular task at that moment in your Life, the job application. You will never enjoy a sunrise if you keep thinking about your nightmares. Even if you are at the most beautiful resort in the Pacific, you will not even see the sun rise if you are not present in that moment.
The cure to worrying is like the cure to diabetes. Once a diabetic, always a diabetic. At best, you can astutely manage your diabetes with your strict diet and exercise regimen. Even a day’s, or even a meal’s complacency or indulgence, can spike your sugar levels. So it is with worrying. You cannot stop worrying. Period. But you can always postpone worrying by starting to live fully. When you live, in the present, no worry can plague you! That’s why I say don’t try to stop worrying, instead postpone it, by being alive, by living fully!
Jealousy is as wasteful as worrying is. It can’t touch you and it can’t get you anywhere either!
A friend is launching a new business. He consulted me and Vaani on the idea and his launch strategy. At the end of the conversation, he thanked us profusely for our time and requested us to keep it under wraps. Of course, any new idea must be protected and preserved until it is launched. But his reasoning was different: “I am very wary of professional and personal jealousy. I don’t want anyone to cast an evil eye on my idea.”
Somehow, I can’t wrap my head around this ‘evil eye’ concept. Just thinking that it exists and that it can affect you is so regressive. No, I am not being dismissive about jealousy. I am only suggesting that we develop a mature response to it.
Let us understand jealousy first. Someone is said to be jealous of you when they wish or want what you have or they want to be who you are. So, essentially, it is in the eye of the beholder. Now, this is something very normal, very human.
You see someone having a nice phone or a beautiful car and you wish or want that phone or car. You think of it and say to yourself that it will be great if you owned them too. This happens to all of us, all the time. So just accept jealousy as a normal response to Life as it happens around you. In some cases, jealousy is accompanied by anger, resentment and insecurity. So, some people feel jealous more intensely than others. Some talk openly about it. Others cook within themselves feeling wretched that they don’t have what someone else has. Again it is only in the eye of the beholder. It is only what, and how, the person who is jealous is feeling. Now, if this person examines this feeling of jealousy closely, they will see the futility of it. Surely, wishing and wanting never got anyone anything – or anywhere! So, when they see the futility of being jealous, they will stop being jealous. Simple. And as long as they don’t understand its futility, they will keep cooking in it. Just as they will cook in fear or anxiety or worry. So, ultimately, the choice to cook or to let go, to be free, is the individual’s.
Now, if you are the subject of someone’s envy, you can see and you know for sure that you are only the subject. It is all happening to the other person, in the other person. Until such time that you don’t invite yourself to the party, you are free. But the moment you start imagining that the other person’s feelings will impact you, you are entrapped. That’s when you too will start cooking within – ‘Are things going wrong because so-and-so has cast an evil eye?’, ‘Will I lose what I have because someone’s envious of me?’, ‘How can I protect myself from jealousy?’…. – and lose your inner peace. Pause and reflect. How is such thinking productive? Is it serving any purpose? When you hold someone’s jealous attitude towards you and examine it, you too will realize its futility. Until you started giving it any attention, you were free. But now you are fearful, insecure, worried and anxious. Do you need to be this way? Isn’t all this avoidable?
Clearly, you can’t possibly do anything about what other people are thinking. But can’t you at least change your thinking and be free from wasteful emotions?
I don’t deny jealousy exists or wish that it doesn’t arise. It is a natural human response to, and in, Life. Like any other emotion it will rise. But if you understand that it can’t touch you or that it can’t get you anywhere, you will recognize its futility. So, when you don’t give jealousy any attention, it will slink away. Quietly. I let jealousy simply be. Whether it is arising in me or for me. I don’t give it any attention. So it doesn’t touch me or affect me. And I can tell you that Life is really beautiful, awesome in fact, without that wasteful emotion!
|Mahamaham – Kumbakonam
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Photo Courtesy: Mid-Day/Internet