Things You Can’t Control
There’ve been times in my life when things were happening to me, or around me that I couldn’t control, but I would spend hours, days, or months worrying about them, just the same. Things like, politics, terrorism, the current health crises, a friend’s choices, the way a family member treated me and divorce. I couldn’t control any of those things, but I let them all take up valuable space in my head and take a toll on my health.
One of my biggest fears has always been abandonment. I think it came from early in my life when my sister was diagnosed with leukemia. Maybe it was the fact that she left, and my two-year-old self could never understand what a terminal illness was, and that she was never coming back. Perhaps it had more to do with the fact that my parents left me in the care of relatives while they stayed in the hospital with her. It could have been both.
Whatever caused my fear of abandonment, I’ve spent much of my life people-pleasing and trying to control everyone’s happiness, so they wouldn’t leave me. I finally caught on that I couldn’t control whether or not someone abandoned me after divorce, the loss of my mother, and a more recent fallout with a family member. I could worry, try to control by people-pleasing, try to be the best version of myself I could be, and people would still leave.
I learned that I have to worry about myself first, not in a selfish way, but in a self-loving kind of way. Worry and fear don’t work.
What does work to let go of worry?
Don’t get me wrong, you will probably always have some level of worry, but you can greatly reduce that level by incorporating some grounding practices. These are all things that have helped me tremendously, and they are mostly free! I hope they help you too.
- Getting outside-Studies have shown that just looking at trees for 10 minutes or so, is instantly calming. If you don’t have a lot of trees where you live, the blue sky and green plants can help too. Open your windows and grow a few houseplants.
- Sitting in silence- A 2006 study showed that two minutes of silence was enough to lower blood pressure, and a 2013 study showed that 2 hours of silence was enough to create new neurons in the hippocampus of the brain, related to learning, memory and emotions.
- Walking barefoot on the bare Earth- A practice called “Earthing”, which helps reconnect the body to the Earth’s electrons was shown to help participants in a 2012 study get better sleep, reduce chronic pain, and lower the stress hormone, cortisol. When was the last time you walked barefoot outside?
- Reading inspirational texts- Read something that inspires hope and excitement. You can read anything from The Bible, to fictional stories, whatever makes you feel good. I read from several books daily. (That’s where a Kindle or iPad comes in handy!)
- Putting your trust in a higher power- Sometimes it can seem that things around the world are falling apart. It can be overwhelming to feel like you want to help change so many injustices. That’s where trusting in God or a Divine being can help you relax in the belief that everything is going to work out for your highest good.
- Ignoring the news- I have to be honest, I’ve been letting the news get the best of me lately. I have concerns about medical practices and I keep hoping to find the one answer that will make me feel better. But, what ends up happening, is I walk away feeling more angry and stressed than before. I’m going to ignore the news and do my part to spread love and light wherever I can. I will trust that everything will work out for the greater good.
- Limiting social media- Much of my job is done through social media, and I love to keep up with family and friends, but when I see that I am getting too caught up in negativity, I will catch myself and shut down the social media. You can even take it a step further and set an app or timer to shut it down for you if this is hard for you.
There are many ways to ground yourself, and let go of worry, but hopefully you found something new in this article to try, or recommit to. Let me know in the comments what works for you when worry starts spinning out of control.