Do you subscribe to the New York Times wellness newsletter? I highly recommend it. Recently, it linked to an article about how to be happy. While it seems like every other article these days is about happiness, part it caught my eye:
Telling yourself “I have to stop thinking about this,” only makes you think about it more. Instead, own your worries. When you are in a negative cycle, acknowledge it. “I’m worrying about money.” “I’m obsessing about problems at work.
So, I want to ask: what worries you? I’m a worry-wart. I can worry about anything — it kind of feels like the worst secret talent. When I’m not worrying enough, I’ll wonder, “What’s missing?” — as if my constant worrying is like that friend who never leaves. When she does, I notice right away. I want to say that I haven’t always been this way, but in some ways it’s like I’m hardwired to do it (I remember, as if it were yesterday, worrying about the logistics of how the tooth fairy would manage under my pillow).
After reading the article, I sat down with a pen and paper and wrote down my list of worries. I thought about every worry — big and small, and included them all. They kept coming. But then something happened. They were all there. On paper. All my worries, which can feel like a giant, insurmountable mass of All The Things That Can Go Wrong, were staring up at me. Slowly, each individual worry started to lose its power. It wasn’t that I no longer felt worried, it was that I realized whether or not I worried, it didn’t make a difference. You can’t worry your way into a predictable life. You can’t worry your way into controlling your future. Life doesn’t account for worries. Think about it — the following thought never crosses one’s mind: I’m so glad I worried about that thing. Worrying really helped.
It sounds simple, this idea to face negative thoughts head on, to embrace them rather than to resist them, but I think for most of us, it’s incredible difficult. It was so refreshing to do this little exercise, and I even took it a step farther, picturing a dinner party in which all my worries attend with bottles of wine in hand. If you’re a worrier like me, I feel you, girl. This week, let’s try to be extra gentle on ourselves and our worries. XO