“Never worry worry, til worry worries you,” my granny used to say. There’s a grain of truth in there, and an even better tongue twister, but the day I really got the measure of worry started as a simple coffee morning with two friends twenty four years ago.
The three of us met once a week so our young children could play together while we caught up over a coffee.
That morning I had opened my cheque book to pay an electricity bill and realized that I was about $100 short in our bill paying account. I had miscalculated when setting our household budget, and I was disappointed in myself.
We had money in other accounts, but I would have to go to the bank (those pre-internet banking days!), organize transfers, and, by the time I made my payment, it would be overdue. (I laugh as I type, because I have since handled much bigger budgets and much greater shortfalls, and I’m still here to tell the tale.)
My worry over that bill weighed heavily on me as I walked into my friend’s kitchen for our morning coffee. I was last to arrive.
“I’ve got to make a decision this afternoon,” one friend was saying to the other, “what do you think, the champagne or the pink?” She was talking about a new ring, not to wear – though she would – but as an investment. Champagne diamond, or pink diamond, which should it be?
She was worried. She wanted to make the best choice. We were her friends. We talked it through.
“We may have to sell our house,” began the other friend, once we’d covered every facet of the diamond question, “and rent a home instead. Our business is moving into more debt than we can handle.”
She was worried. Was there an alternative she was overlooking? We were her friends. We talked it through.
What I noticed that morning from the emotional energy we each carried, was that our worries weighed the same, even though a bystander would notice that each worry was based on money. A shortfall of about $100 weighed the same as a shortfall of about a quarter of a million dollars which weighed the same as an abundance of disposable income.
Worry, I noticed, expands to fill the available space, so the trick is not to allow it any. Or, as I often express it these days whenever it is appropriate, “There are two ways to do this. One is to worry, the other is to not worry.”
Not worrying does not mean not caring, of course. It means not wasting energy worrying when you could be putting that energy to constructive use.
That coffee morning, I gained a new perspective on worry that worked for me, but what about those times when, as my granny’s saying put it, “worry worries you”? What about those times when something is niggling and worrying you and making you anxious and you can’t escape it? That’s where dream work comes in. Your dreams – particularly your recurring, unresolved dreams – can help you to understand unconscious beliefs that throw dark clouds where there should be light, that distract you with worry rather than inspire you towards great outcomes.