The Grace to be Present

I saw this quote online and it made me laugh to think how true it is:

Worrying is like praying for what you don’t want.

Sometimes we think that it is a noble thing to worry, that it is somehow more responsible to worry than to trust. Perhaps we know that we shouldn’t really worry about whether or not a new haircut will turn out perfectly, but we fall into the trap of thinking that it is right to worry extensively about the things that do really matter, like whether or not we are a good enough parent. Surely in this matter we are justified in periodically raking ourselves over the coals…right?

Nope.

While it is responsible to spend some time in reflection and planning, in setting goals and making small changes, this kind of beat-yourself-up worry can easily be more self-indulgent than useful, because it can lead to apathy and despair, instead of hope-inspired action.

Furthermore, while worry removes us emotionally and mentally, gratitude helps us to be present, to really experience the moment and the people we are with. Worrying when you are with someone is like the mental equivalent of texting at the table. How about instead of sitting worrying about whether you are a good enough parent, spouse, or friend, give your loved one a hug? The love of an imperfect person goes a really long way; after all, we all are!

5 things to do if you catch yourself sliding into a worry spiral:

1. Get up and do something. Take one small, concrete step towards the issue troubling you, and then try to let it go.

2. Work up a sweat. Go for a brisk walk, get down and scrub the floor (it’s hard to worry when huffing, puffing, and making your house shine) or get down and boogie. A little living room dance party does wonders for the soul.

3. Read something uplifting. Remember all the beautiful things happening in the world. Give thanks for what is going well, and try to trust that there is a good plan behind the things that, in your limited view, are not.

4. Call a friend. Ask them about their day. You’ll remember others have struggles, too, and yours will become a lot smaller. Just voicing your fears to a confidant will help them become less ominous, and you’ll likely receive the emotional boost you need along with some good laughs. Also, friends are good at telling you the things you already knew but forgot, and needed to hear from someone you love.

5. Pray. There’s no harm in asking for help, in letting the things beyond our control out of our tight grasp, in letting go so that something good can happen, something better even than what we imagined. Remember, “worrying is like praying for what you don’t want,” so instead, pray for you heart’s desires, for peace, wisdom and joy, for the hope to begin again each day with trust. As Anne of Green Gables’ lovely school teacher Miss Barry said, “Tomorrow is a new day, with no mistakes in it…Yet.” Just remember, making mistakes doesn’t disqualify you from being loveable, but worrying about your mistakes can prevent you from loving. Remember to be gentle with yourself, and that gentleness will extend to others.

And if all else fails, eat some chocolate and watch a funny movie! Or maybe do that part anyway…

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