Once the worrying begins it can be hypnotic. As soon as something scary pops into our head, we start playing a scary movie in our mind in which we are cast as the victim of overwhelming circumstances. Our character doesn’t stand a chance. As we overcome one obstacle, we ourselves come up with another, and another, until we are certain we will be hurt, punished, or worse. This is not being responsible or even prudent, this is creative visualization used to terrorize ourselves by inventing problems where there are none.
Just the other day, during my morning walk there was young woman trying to corral her off-leash pit bull in her front yard. That is when my worry kicked in. “What if I were walking our dogs and this dog was out loose?”
That’s all it took to get the horror film playing in my head. Cut to: the pit bull attacking little Mr. French, our defenseless Chihuahua mix. Then the raging pit bull turned on Gabby, a pit bull herself; but of course she’s cast in the role of the docile non-aggressive type, nothing like this villain. I saw myself trying to get between them to protect my dogs from harm and the uncontrollable raging dog getting a hold of Gabby. I couldn’t break the evil dog’s hold on Gabby and the young woman was doing nothing to prevent this. In my daydream, I felt I had no choice, so I grabbed a loose red brick from the ones that edged the yard. I raised the brick and right before I struck the mad dog . . . I snapped out of it and realized, “Wait a minute! This is not what I want.”
That’s the lifesaver, right there: realizing that the worry going on in our head is NOT what we want to happen. In my case, my daydream was clearly not how I wanted things to play out. At that moment I had an opportunity to switch the direction my thoughts were traveling, from negative to positive. Remember, our point of power is always in the present moment. It is in this moment that we have the power of choice. I use the following affirmative statement to help me get my imagination working for me instead of against me, “Stop worrying about what you don’t want, and start thinking about what you do want.”
What do you want? Think about that next time you catch yourself using the power of your imagination to worry.
I knew I really didn’t want anything to happen with my neighbor or her dog. So what did I want? I wanted peace. I really want love. I want to enjoy my neighborhood and everyone in it. I began to think about the woman and her dog, who by now was safely inside without incident. I thought of Gabby, our pit bull. I realized that Lori often had to corral Gabby off-leash back into our house. I also knew that in spite of that, Lori was not an irresponsible dog owner. I knew Gabby was sweet and I knew Lori was sweet. I began to think of this woman and her dog in the same way in which I thought of Lori and Gabby. I admit it took a few moments to get the new movie playing.
My ego is always reluctant to let go of the fearful fantasies it creates, like a little boy having a toy taken away. Soon however, one desirable thought followed another, the power of my imagination took hold of this and I was feeling much better. Now whenever I think of this woman and her dog I do so with love. I am free and at peace.
Experiment with thinking about what you really want in any situation that you are tempted to worry about. When taking the positive approach you will be amazed how your circumstances begin to correspond.
We live under Grace. Grace, meaning we'll always reap much more than we have sown and we are never punished to the degree our worry would have us believe. Remember, there is no virtue in worrying. After all, life always flows in a positive direction. Feelings aren’t facts; they’re indicators. They indicate the direction our thoughts are going. Positive thoughts generate good feelings because they are in harmony with the flow of life.
“To believe in the good alone, may seem fallacious to many, but he who thus believes will find his path lighted by a torch which flickers not, nor fails.” –Ernest Holmes
“Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious - the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.” –Philippians 4:8