It’s been said that 97% of what we worry about never happens. And yet, for some of us, it’s seems almost impossible to put a stop to worrying. What is worry? The psychiatrist Carl Jung characterizes worry as a substitute for legitimate suffering. In other words, it’s neurotic, not helpful and a waste of time. Worry is when your thoughts run wild, sometimes to the point of being delusional and out of control. One negative thought attracts another, followed by another and so on until all you can see on your path is disaster. Everything is absolute, and everything is a catastrophe.
How does this happen? Why is worrying likely to cause a tailspin or downward spiral? When you start with one negative thought put out into the universe, the thought is like a magnet, attracting like thoughts. The level of vibration in a negative thought finds similar thoughts because they are vibrating at the very same frequency. Suddenly you have a bundle of worries, creating fear and depression. What you feel in any given moment is always the result of what you’re thinking at that moment.
Recently a friend of mine was selected to give a speech at an upcoming charity event. Betty is a highly intelligent and accomplished woman well known in her field, which is why she was asked to speak. Betty wasn’t thrilled, in fact she was petrified. Very much as I was when I was in New York to accept the Best Toy Store award for Magic Village toy store in San Jose, CA. And just like me this woman could think of nothing but catastrophe. What if I forget what to say? What if my voice cracks? What happens if I lose my place? What happens if I mispronounce a word, or worse yet, someone’s name?
In the weeks prior to the speech all she did was worry. Now think about this. She allowed herself to be consumed by fear and worry for weeks leading up to the event. Were these happy times for her? Of course not! Her worrying overshadowed everything she did in those weeks; her job, time with her family and friends, the pleasure in her romantic relationship, and her peace of mind. And, for what? Nothing. Worrying was a waste of her time, energy and happiness. Did she do well when she actually gave the speech? Absolutely, she was great. Did any of the things she worried about come to pass? Yes. Her mouth was a bit dry at the beginning and she felt a bit dizzy walking up the stairs to the podium. Then, she took a sip of water, took a deep breath and looked out at her audience. She suddenly realized she was just human, the same as everyone sitting in front of her. If she made a mistake, and she did, she still felt the thrill of getting to talk to so many people about why she supported the charity, and why the organization means so much to her.
Nobody asked for perfect, and you never have to show up perfect. We’re all human. We will make mistakes. It’s all part of life. I’ve spoken to hundreds of groups over the years and I will tell you this, not a one of those talks was perfect. I made mistakes. As long as I live I will continue to make mistakes. So what? Who cares? They don’t and I certainly shouldn’t.