THE STOP WORRYING EXERCISE!
DEAR FRIENDS- Let me begin with a radical and supremely hopeful point of view: There is NOTHING you need to worry about. Ever! There are simply challenges to face and creative solutions that are within you to discover.
Whether the steps you need to take are external (an improved way of handling a situation) or internal (a new attitude that frees you to let go and feel better) there is no need to fear. You can learn how to stay peaceful and always find your way to inner relief and outer progress
We all know that worrying never solved a problem, and never makes us feel better. Worrying is a constant drain on our inner peace, physical energy and overall happiness. It simply doesn't work! But cultivating and maintaining a deep trust in life, an unshakeable centeredness and an abiding kindness to yourself always does.
Why is the "worry habit" so hard to break? The basic answer is that it is a tendency that develops early in life.
From the truly miraculous experience of our own growth and development in the womb, we come into the world with an instinct of unconditional trust in life. Imprinted in our core is the faith that all is well- and all will be well! But when things occur to shake that natural sense of security, the seeds of the "worry habit" are planted.
Here is an all too common example of how the tendency toward chronic worry begins in our body, mind and spirit. Many of us were left alone, in the dark, to cry ourselves to sleep as infants or young children. This misguided practice (still widely in use today) creates great anxiety in the child that can only be controlled by tensing the body and restricting full breathing. A child's body and nervous system automatically creates this suppressive tension in order to cope with the situation. But the original anxiety still exists, stored up deep in the body and unconscious mind. This stored-up stress keeps the system in a chronic, low level state of anxiety that is experienced as "worrying" as life proceeds.
There are other examples I could give but in short the tendency to worry arises from painful experiences- emotional abandonment/isolation; abuse of some kind; a chaotic, alcoholic or violent home environment; and most of all the loss of love- that lessen our core and inborn trust that we are "safe" and that all will turn out well.
Armed with this understanding of how the tendency to worry originates- a loss of faith and trust coupled with bodily tensions that lock anxiety into our systems- we can design a real and permanent cure! To heal your tendency to worry at its roots you need an approach that helps to restore your fundamental sense of safety and security. The exercise you are about to learn is a great way to work toward the life-changing freedom from worry that you need and deserve!
It is crucial to realize that it doesn't matter what we are fretting about- money, relationships, health, our job etc. IT IS THE HABIT OF WORRYING ITSELF WHICH MUST BE CONFRONTED AND TRANSFORMED. For example, how many of you have worked hard to overcome your anxiety in one area- let's say fears about money- only to then have your anxiety shift with equal intensity to another topic! This is because- like a dormant virus- the stored-up emotional stress that drives the worry habit has remained within you, simply "transferring" itself to a new subject.
This is why the early-life roots of your anxiety must be dissolved for you to be permanently worry-free.
A life without the pain of worrying is totally possible so I hope you will love yourself by giving this innovative practice a try. I believe that you- like hundreds of my students and clients- will be thrilled by the results!
There are two breakthrough insights at the foundation of this worry-busting approach. The first is that we don't just worry with our minds- we worry with our whole bodies! Our worrying thoughts are always accompanied by physical tensions and restricted breathing. If we try to reduce worrying only by shifting our thoughts, most of the physical tension involved with the anxiety continues. Over time, the fear-based tensions in our bodies produce new worried thoughts in our minds! So for the deepest release and most permanent change, the worry habit in both the body and the mind must shift simultaneously and together.
Think of worrying as a state of being "uptight"- "up" in your head, trapped by fearful thoughts and "tight" in your body. When we are uptight, we have lost our calm center. The physical actions of feeling your feet on the ground, breathing into your belly, letting down and letting go, automatically calms your body and mind.
The second breakthrough of this method involves working with your Inner Child. As I have explained above this is the place in you that feels insecure and needs to recover the peace of unconditional trust in self and life.
So in the exercise, as you first let down and let go physically, then give yourself the kind attitude and affirming thoughts that restore faith and trust, you dissolve the "worry habit" at it's physical, mental, emotional and spiritual roots.
THE STOP WORRYING EXERCISE
Part One - Physical Release
1. Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart. Flex your knees and feel your feet on the floor. This gets you out of your head - and all that worried thinking! - and more connected to your body. It is a basic principle of Bioenergetics (the style of Body-Oriented Psychotherapy I practice) that the more connected you are to your body and the ground, the more emotionally secure you feel- therefore the less you worry! You will flex your knees and keep feeling your feet on the floor throughout the exercise.
2. Now scan your body for areas of tension. In general, people lock their knees, raise their shoulders, tighten their neck, restrict their breathing, and tense in their solar plexus when worrying. The simple awareness of where we are tensing up helps to release it.
Pay special attention to where your breathing feels tight and restricted. If your breath was completely free, your chest would expand fully and easily, and the wave of breath would extend without effort all the way up through your throat and all the way down though the belly and into your pelvis. This is true for very few people, but if you observe infants you will see it is the natural breathing pattern we are born with. Our birthright!
3. Next, take the deepest breath you can and raise your shoulders upwards toward your ears. Then, let your shoulders drop and sag completely, as you make an "aaahhh" sound and let your breath completely out. This sound releases the heart chakra/chest area. You are letting go and letting down the "up-tightness" and physical stress of worrying.
4. Now place your hands on your belly. Take three final breaths, breathing deep into your belly. As you let your breath out, make an "oooo" sound. Let the breath completely empty. This sound releases your belly/energetic "center". When you are grounded in your body and centered in your belly, you cannot be "uptight" - that is, stuck in your head and your worried thinking.
5. Having released the physical tensions typical of worrying and centered your awareness in your body, you are now prepared to "plant the seeds" of a worry-free, optimistic attitude.
Part Two- Activating Your Inner Peace and Core Trust
1. Stand in front of a mirror and look yourself in the eye. As you do, imagine that you are the kind of mother or father who is always encouraging and knows exactly what to say. Or, imagine that you are speaking with the peace and wisdom of your own soul. The basic concept is that the person in the mirror (the part of you that is worrying) needs to let go of fear and trust that all will be well. You are going to help him/her do that.
2. Say these words out loud: "Sweetheart (or a nickname), there is nothing to be afraid of. I am with you and I love you".
Look for a feeling of tenderness toward yourself as you speak these reassuring words. The attitude of tenderness allows your body and spirit to accept your words of reassurance.
3. Now say: "I completely believe in you! You have everything you need inside you to handle this. You have the...." (list the 'inner qualities' and strengths that will help you creatively work with what you have been worrying about).
Examples of inner strengths: faith, love, patience, creativity, honesty, physical energy, positive attitude, wisdom, experience etc. Be very specific about what particular "inner strengths" you need to feel better and creatively solve the challenge you are facing.
4. Finally say this: "It's okay to just let go and trust. All is well, and all will be well."
Remember that at the deepest level, it is our insecure "Inner Child" that is worrying. She/he needs to be reassured that everything is going to be okay and will surely work out for the best.
Repeat this this three times, looking for the attitude that is reassuring and sincere.
5. Having completed the exercise, let go and continue with your day. You will usually feel better immediately from the exercise. Over the course of time you will notice that the frequency and intensity of worrying fades away from your life.
When you've tried this for a while, I'd love to know how it worked. I look forward to your comments! LOTS OF LOVE- BRYAN