Worrier says: It’s not my fault that I worry.
Warrior says: Worry is a choice. I choose to let go of worry. I intend to live with inner peace.
Years ago, I was convinced my weight was the source of my worry. Despite well-meaning advice from friends and family, I thought if I could only lose enough weight, my worries would disappear. I believed being thin would fix everything. Everyone would like me, I would like myself, and I would finally be calm and carefree.
Perhaps that belief stemmed from being “the chubby kid” in elementary school. I was teased terribly about my weight as a child and I used humor to hide my pain until I was about 14 years old. That’s when I exchanged my class-clown routine for starvation. I would go days without eating. I lost weight and the teasing from my peers ceased, but my world still wasn’t worry-free. To me, that simply meant I wasn’t thin enough. So, I continued to starve myself on and off until I was 16 years old. At 16, I exchanged starvation for bulimia. The bulimia consumed me and I was repulsed by it. Yet, I still believed that when I was thin enough, everything would be okay. I was wrong. In fact, the thinner I became, the more messed up and anxiety-ridden I felt. At the age of 17, I was at the end of my rope and I booked an appointment with a psychologist to begin the slow and steady process of overcoming my eating disorders and getting my life back on track.
The reason I’m sharing this very personal story is to let you know that I understand how it feels to believe: If only I could lose this weight, then I wouldn’t have to worry. If I only had more money, then I wouldn’t have to worry. If I only had a better job, then I wouldn’t have to worry. If only my business would take off, then I wouldn’t have to worry.
Let me tell you, if you don’t have calm without those things, you won’t have calm with them either. You’ll just find something else to worry about. You’ll find something else to erode your peace of mind. I know because I’ve been there. I’ve experienced both sides of the coin. I’ve been broke and I’ve had money. I’ve had some great jobs and I’ve had some pretty lousy ones. I’ve been overweight and I’ve been at my ideal weight. Through it all, I’ve learned this very important truth: Money, weight, children, parents, workload, health, career, and other people do not make you worry. Do you know what makes you worry? You make you worry. But, you know, that’s great news because it means you don’t have to win the lottery, lose weight, find a mate, get a divorce, change jobs, or fix whatever else it is that you’ve been blaming for your worry in order to regain inner calm. What you do need to do is accept responsibility for your worry and stop blaming it on external factors.
Accepting responsibility does not mean you blame yourself for worrying. All that does is move you from externalizing your worry to internalizing it. It’s not about whose fault it is. It’s about empowering yourself to make positive changes in your life. It’s about accepting responsibility and taking back your personal power. Affirm to yourself: Worry is a choice. I choose to let go of worry. I intend to live with peace of mind. Then, move on to the next “Master Your Mind” strategy.
(This has been an excerpt from CALM, by Denise Marek)