Kearsarge Unitarian Universalist
Why do we worry? Why do we fear?
I have chosen this topic because I have been an expert worrier all my life, starting at age 5 months, the beginning of World War II. There are probably a few of us in this room who have this so-called expertise. Am I right?
I have made a commitment to myself to do something about my worrying, and the first step is to understand it, to recognize it. So, I’m going to share with you what I have learned about it so far. I am by no means finished with my research at this time.
I will talk about where worry and fear come from, how to recognize them, how they affect us, what we can do about them, and what Spirit and God has to do with all of this.
I can only give you a “light” version on this topic, the Worry 101, because of the limited time we have together today. I do have resources and books to recommend, if you want to go much deeper (which I’m doing for myself in this time of my life)
I’m going to use fear and worry interchangeably, because they are all versions of the same thing; they do show up differently in different situations and with different people.
Is Worry and Fear good or bad? It depends.
It’s good if you use it only to the extent needed to keep you safe. Example: You fear being hit by a car when you step into a cross-walk. So, to be conservative or cautious you wait until the car stops and lets you cross safely, before you enter the cross walk. That is GOOD worrying. It’s SMART worrying.
It’s bad if you are afraid to drive on an Interstate because you believe you don’t know, and cannot learn, how to merge safely into high speed traffic on a freeway, and you therefore avoid all free-ways and interstate highways.
Fear and Worry has been around for a long time.
Franklin Roosevelt said in his first inaugural address in 1933: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
And Yann Martel said: “It is life’s only true opponent, only fear can defeat life.”
Where does Worry and Fear come from?
Worry usually is generated in our head, and it stays in our head, and especially in our body. It usually originates from past (sometimes unpleasant, even traumatic), experiences, and we now worry that this same thing could happen to us again.
Examples of these types of fears and worries because of past experiences:
Or worries and fears might originate in the lessons we’ve been taught throughout our life by parents, siblings, relatives, schools, and yes, even churches.
Other major fears/worries:
Is that enough for setting the stage?
Is that a place where we want to stay? Do we even recognize that this is where our thoughts often are. Are we aware that we are holding some of these beliefs?
Is this the kind of story we want to tell ourselves for the rest of our life? Or do we want to say ENOUGH
A lot of our worries and fears are not even based in fact. It’s something we make up. We worry about something that has not happened, and may never happen. Those of us who are in our head a lot – who of you will admit that?
I will admit.
We go through all of the scenarios in our head about things that could happen if ….,, or if we don’t do this ….. Sound familiar?
Worry is not generated in our heart, it’s not a creation of Spirit, of God, of Love.
What is the result of worrying, what are the benefits:
As I said before, there is some positive benefit that can be derived from being fearful and worrying: We practice safe behavior, we wear bike helmets, ski helmets, wear seat belts, etc. We will do fewer dum things, like jumping from a moving train.
What are negative consequences of worrying, especially if we worry too much:
The list is long, too long. I only have 8 items on my list, and I am sure everyone of you can think of a lot more.
My list of 8: here we go:
Effects of fear/worry
So, what do we do deal with our fears and worries: (Notice I don’t say “fight”, whatever we fight, i.e. put energy to, we invite more of into our life, including all negative stuff)
Here are my 9 Antidotes to worrying: (By now you can tell that I like lists)
And the answer here is not to push away, ignore our feelings. Be with them, acknowledge them.
The Dalai lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity answered:
“Man …. Because he sacrifices his health In order to make money.
Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health
Then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present;
The result being that he does not live in the present or the future;
He lives as if he is never going to die, and then he dies having never lived. “
Let’s affirm that we will not do THAT. And let’s end with this prayer:
“The love of God is my anchor. Nothing is required of me but to know that peace, love and harmony are found within.
As I rest in the stillness of the silence for a few moments, I feel the presence of God within me. Peace soothes my mind and heart. When I return to face the situation at hand, I bring God’s peace with me and experience transformation.”