For the past several weeks, synchronicity has brought to me the topic of worry in various forms and on several occasions. What causes some people to worry like it’s their job, while others take life in stride? I viewed a recent meme on Facebook that suggested that worry is due to lack of imagination. That seems to be one reason, but doesn’t give an all encompassing explanation for why some people are more prone to worry. Yes, lack of imagining a wide range of possible outcomes, and determining the resolution of a problem with an extremely narrow focus will result in anxiety. This caused me to take a look at individuals I know who are career worriers and see what else might be a culprit.
Testing this theory of lack of imagination, I saw that my first subject uses her imagination in her work to resolve issues of social injustice. I’ll be up front and say that I’m looking at her zodiacal birth chart. Her imagination is fully intact and used in a constructive way to help the downtrodden. But she is a world-class worrier. Where does this show up? For her, it shows up as part of her basic personality in needing and wanting control – over almost everything. Of course, life being what it is, extreme control over all aspects of life isn’t in the stars for anyone. The need for control almost swallows her up.
Looking at yet another individual what shows up is a constant negotiation between what he is forming or creating in it’s initial stages and the beauty of the final “piece of art” if you will. For this person, the act of breathing life into (the negotiation part) a new project can be pleasant and automatic if the final piece is known by him to result in perfectly formed art. Or, that negotiation if performed in the uncharted territory of creating something new can result in worry if a habituated “breathing” pattern for an entirely new body of work is unfamiliar. This act of constant negotiation is in his operating system, and can cause either worry or pleasure.
There are as many causes of worry as there are people. New Agers will suggest that all you have to do is stay present. Worry is caused by living in the future instead of the present. Yes, of course that is true, but not helpful in every situation. Shall we suggest to parents worried about a child taken seriously ill they just need to live in the present? (Read as, “if you were more enlightened you wouldn’t worry.”) I’m not suggesting meditation, reflection, faith in the perfect resolution via the Divine isn’t helpful. It simply isn’t compassionate as a suggestion.
On the other hand, a healthy dose of worry appropriately applied will kick our sympathetic nervous system into gear keeping us alert to possible danger and a wider range of possibilities. We’ll entertain such thoughts as, “is this doctor making me comfortable with her decisions, or should I get a second opinion?” I’d suggest that it might make us smarter to worry when we need to be in a heightened state of alert.
Knowing yourself on an intimate level in the area of why you worry and what areas of life you are particularly prone to anxiety won’t alleviate worry entirely, but will go a long way toward giving you a reality check and will give you room to breath.
Margaret Snow is a Life Coach in Ithaca, New York, and is happy to work with you to help you find peace, clear purpose, freedom and balance. Contact her about her Deeper Look Program, a series that provides you with keys to unlock your path to outer vibrancy and inner well being.