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Abandoning Worry


High intensity concern about a problem, real or perceived, leads to stress that can be good or bad. If there is an oncoming car or an expense that is getting far out of hand, there is a legitimate need to worry. But if there is only a perception, a guess, a speculation that something could go wrong, worrying does very little good.

For a moment, let's think about the little bit of good that can come from worry. It is a sign that your body and your subconscious are aware that something is or could be going wrong. At least in the very beginning, it's part nature's way of preparing you for a fight or for flight. It serves to help you survive.

But what happens after the initial flush of worry. Perhaps there is no physical threat. Perhaps an anticipated expense can be averted by skillful means. After worry alerts you that something needs to be done or averted it starts to become counterproductive. It usurps mental powers that would be better put to use in some other way. Instead of worrying about someone treating you poorly, think of means of reconciliation or making other acquaintances. Or, after a moment of unpleasant reflection about being overweight, put the worry aside and go out and jog.

But if the worry persists, it would be a good time just to have a little sit and concentrate on your breathing. Notice I am talking about the type of self-nagging worry that doesn't do you any good. I'm not suggesting that if you are in a situation of immediate concern that you sit on a cushion and start meditating. No, you should address the issue. But if you are worried about a problem that is not part of the present reality, just taking a few mindful breaths can help break the pattern of worry. Just ask yourself, "What is the present reality?" If the object of the worry is right in front of you, or you can take immediate action to alleviate it, by all means do it. But if, for example, it is something that can only be done during business hours, try not to let an overwrought concern trespass on your weekend.

Remember, you are the sum of your merits, not the subtraction of your worries. Listen to your worrying thoughts when they serve you and act accordingly. Otherwise, consider them nattering nags that rob you of the richness your life deserves. These types of worries should be abandoned with a few mindful breaths.

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