Anticipatory anxiety is awful.
And in many cases, the worrying ends up feeling far more uncomfortable than the actual event.
I used to hate speaking in public. In fact, I was terrified.
Whenever I had to give a talk for work – which turned out to be rather often – I would stress over the event for every single day leading up to my talk. I wouldn’t sleep well, lost most of my appetite, and wasn’t a pleasant person to be around.
But what really surprised me was this: no matter how the talk went – even the ones that weren’t so good (there were plenty) – in none of the talks did I ever feel the level of anxiety that I did each day before the talk.
I found myself thinking after each one, “Hmm, that wasn’t so bad.”
And yet, once the next talk was scheduled, I’d begin to feel anxious all over again.
I hadn’t yet fully grasped the wise words of Dale Carnegie:
“Remember, today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.”
What is the value of anticipatory anxiety?
Except that it serves very well to hold us back from appreciating the only place that life unfolds – the present moment.
When we’re feeling anxious, we’re “living in” (and worrying about) the future. And when we’re thinking about pain that we’ve suffered, we’re trapped in the past.
Worry is the perfect antidote to peace. One of the simplest and most effective ways to throw away peace is to worry.
Now imagine a life without worry. What would that feel like?
It doesn’t mean that we don’t take precautions for some potential occurrence, but it does mean that we don’t fret about what may or may not happen.
Everything that occurs is as it is. No amount of worry will change or help the situation. In fact, worry prevents us from living life with any sense of presence.
One way to drop worry is to first recognize that we’re choosing anxiety and then say to ourselves, “This isn’t going to help me one bit. Let me try setting this aside and appreciating the present moment.”
When we learn to set worry by the wayside, then we can start truly living. From a state of conscious awareness, each moment stands as a “clean, untarnished birth”.
Join me in Monday’s class where we’ll explore how to drop worry and pick up wonderment. I look forward to seeing you then.