Deflating worry…

Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joyAre you a worrier? Do you find your thoughts whirling in the world of what-ifs more often then you would like? Do you recognize when you are getting caught up in these thoughts?

I know when I am in worry-mode, it is a sure sign that I am disconnected from the present moment and have jumped ahead to the future.

Logically I know what a waste of time worry is. It does absolutely nothing to prepare or protect me. The only thing it does is cloud my mind and keep me from being in the present moment (where I can actually do something that could influence the future).

The blog post loosening the hold of fear and doubt left me thinking: worry seems to be a close friend of fear and doubt. How are they related and how are they different?

For me, the roots of fear, doubt, and worry are often the same: I get entangled in them when I try to see too far ahead on the path. When I cannot see what I want, or when I want to be further ahead then I am (or expect myself to be), or when I want to jump over something that I would rather not have to deal with: worry, doubt, or fear pay me a visit.

Fear and worry are similar but different:

Fear is related to the belief that someone or something is dangerous, will hurt us, or is a threat to us in some way. Learning to listen to our fear is important. When the warning bells are clearly coming from the present moment, there can be important life-saving information there. The difference is when these fears are linked to the past or future and are clouding our judgement of the present.

Worry is that state of anxiety or uncertainty over actual or potential problems. But worry has nothing to do with what is happening in the present moment. It jumps ahead to what might happen in the future. Our minds are whirrling over thoughts of how to prepare ourselves for something that may or may not occur.

When I have taken steps forward the fear may be left behind, but worries may still be hanging on. Worry does not paralyze me from moving forward like fear does, but it weighs me down as I am trying to move forward. One can become accustomed to carrying around the weight of worry and forget that it is even there.

“A day of worry is more exhausting than a day of work.” – John Lubbock

“How much pain they have cost us, the evils which have never happened.” – Thomas Jefferson

“We have to fight them daily, like fleas, those many small worries about the morrow, for they sap our energies.” – Etty Hillesum

I have struggled with worry and racing thoughts for as far back as I can remember. As a teenager (or maybe even a preteen) I came up with this imaginative way to stop my thoughts from racing so I could fall asleep. I would close my eyes and pretend there was a door in the middle of my forehead. I would see myself opening the door and spraying water inside my brain to wash away all the thoughts. I would close the door and then try to go to sleep. If my thoughts were still racing, I would open the door again, spray in more water (and make sure I got in all the little nooks and crannies this time) and shut the door again. I would patiently do this until I fell asleep.

Remembering how well this worked for me, I decided to create another visualization exercise about worries (but no trapdoor and water in this one – smile). I hope it has the same power for you as it does for me.


If you would like to explore the power of visualization/guided imagery further, here are some links you may find interesting:

  • Psychology Today has an article by Angie LeVan called that looks at the research behind mental imagery, how it influences the brain, and the strength of this mind-body connection.
  • Monica Regan, author of The DREAM Power Goal System wrote an article called . She writes about the difference between imagination and visualization and offers 5 steps to learn the process of visualizing a goal/dream.
  • Stress-Relief-Tools has three on their website plus a link to another article about visualization relaxation.
  • is the well-known author of numerous books about creative visualization. I read one of her earlier books many years ago which prompted me to start using guided imagery in my practice. I noticed on her website that she now has a CD with four guided meditations

“Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday.” - Author Unknown

“Do not anticipate trouble or worry about what may never happen.  Keep in the sunlight.” – Benjamin Franklin

Any thoughts or comments you would like to share?

3 Responses to “Deflating worry…”

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  1. Kim says:

    Thank you, thank you Diane for the visualization exercise….just what the doctor ordered! I can see that labeling what I am experiencing (fear vs worry) may help lead to further exploration of what is behind the emotion. I agree that they are close cousins :)

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