Blogger: Julie Slater – “The Lotus Flower”
I have some shocking news. I don’t have my life figured out. Not. One. Bit.
I have this constant repeat pattern circling my brain where I keep asking myself:
- What am I doing?
- What should I be doing?
- What if I did something else?
- What if ______?
I put in a pretty solid effort on most days, but I constantly feel like I’m not doing enough. On some days when I should be doing all the things, I instead want to curl into a ball and ignore it all. I would be an amazing hibernating bear.
But the good news (I think) is that I am a sucker when it comes to this universe stuff. I do believe the universe has plans for us. And I swear, I really, really DO believe things happen for a reason, things are already aligned for us, and that things happen exactly when they should. But all of that takes a whole load of patience which isn’t exactly my strong suit. When I was born, if someone was handing out patience – I’m sure I must have skipped that line. Who has time for that?
The thing that caught me off guard last week was when I was recording my latest audio book. Since I’ve started narrating, I’ve found the non-fiction books I narrate have become my teachers. My latest lesson came as I was voicing the book, Thus Spoke the Plant. Monica Gagliano’s words spoke to me about the worry loop in our head, and how we cause so much pain for ourselves by wanting to control things. Wanting to control things? Guilty as charged. But, what if…
“…we stopped and waited in the darkness…And as we relaxed in the belly of the unknown and handed ourselves over to life, what if we discovered a surprising clarity to see what is truly happening and what needs to be done?”
Hmmm. What if we waited in the darkness? What if we accepted things AS THEY ARE with no desire to change them – at least not in this current moment? What if we just sat with it?
My teacher continued:
“…it is when we are willing to let life surprise us that alternatives and unanticipated solutions become visible and accessible. And the best part of this entire process is that once out of our insane loop of control and insecurity, we are effortlessly delivered exactly where we are going.”
When I voiced those words, my eyes teared up. I was speaking the words that were speaking to me. I literally said out loud, “Universe, I get it, already!!”, and I thought to myself – what is it going to take to get myself out of this loop of self-doubt, worry, and the need to control what is happening (or not happening).
I do know for certain, I don’t want to worry anymore. And I don’t want to wait for happiness. I want to rid myself of the loops: “If only this happened, I’d be happy,” “I’ll be able to relax when this finally happens.” I don’t want to wait to be in a place of bliss. Bliss can be found anywhere, during anything. So, I am therefore refusing to wait. Refusing to worry. Because, my dear reader…
Worry is bullshit.
16th Century French author Michel de Montaigne would certainly agree with me. He once said:
“My life has been filled with terrible misfortune; most of which never happened.”
How much of what we worry about actually happens? And does worrying about something in any way change the outcome? The answer is no. And you know why. Because…
Worry is bullshit.
Worry is bad for your body, too. A simple search on WebMD shows chronic worry and emotional stress can trigger a host of health problems. The problem occurs when fight or flight is triggered daily by excessive worrying and anxiety. The fight or flight response causes the body’s sympathetic nervous system to release stress hormones such as cortisol. These hormones can boost blood sugar levels and triglycerides (blood fats) that can be used by the body for fuel. When the excessive fuel in the blood isn’t used for physical activities, the chronic anxiety and outpouring of stress hormones can have serious physical consequences, including: suppression of the immune system, digestive disorders, and heart attack – to name a few. I’m no doctor, but this led me to my scientific conclusion:
Worry is bullshit.
Can I get an amen? But how do we stop worry? Understanding worry’s bullshitedness helps. You’re halfway there! Choosing when to worry helps, too. I’ve done some personal studies. And guess what, waking up at 5am worrying is not a good idea (ya think?). I now am able to laugh at myself when I wake up at 5am. I tell myself, “Nope, not right now”, and I make myself go back to sleep (most times it works). You CAN retrain your brain. Setting aside a small amount of time once a week to worry helps. I just keep putting it off for another day. “I’ll worry tomorrow” has done wonders for me. (Procrastination worry! Finally, procrastination works in my favor.)
There’s also the idea of rationalizing my worry. Let’s say I’m worried about money – I ask myself the real questions – “Have I been able to eat?”, “Do I have a place to live?”, “Do I have clothes and shoes?” (I mean, I’ll never have enough shoes.) Ok. Guess what? Money is just money. There is always a chance to get more. I know right now – I’m OK. I think it’s about taking in this very present moment. If I really dig into this very moment, right here, I can sit with just being.
Maybe I can’t be worry-free all the time, but I can certainly worry less.
I don’t always feel it, but I do believe we’re exactly where we need to be. And a deep breath can remind me of how to be in the now. Ok, maybe two deep breaths. Maybe 10.
Even if it’s for short periods, I am making a pact with myself to give worry the heave-ho. It’s my 2019 Worry Break Up Plan. We can still be friends, Mr. Worry, but you’re going to have to stop calling. And you’re certainly not sleeping over anymore. Oh, and leave your copy of the apartment key on the counter.
Julie Slater, aka THE LOTUS FLOWER, looooves music. Besides being a rabid fan and musician, you may recognize her voice. She’s a voiceover artist and audiobook narrator (www.julieslater.com). She’s DJ’d on top stations: 88.5 FM and 100.3 the Sound in LA and 92.3 K-Rock in NYC following Howard Stern.
When she’s not at concerts, you can usually find her meditating or in the kitchen. She has a slight obsession with deep, dark cabernets & small batch whiskey. Namaste!