I realized something recently that I wish I’d understood a long time ago–that worry is not the same thing as vigilance. Sure, we may feel like we’re on guard, preparing for danger, even effectively wrestling with problems by sweating it out. But the fact is that worry doesn’t protect us, deliver solutions or spur us to useful action. It’s a drain and a time-waster. Worry is an empty talisman to hang around your neck.
So what’s the alternative? What tool should we use to keep trouble from overtaking us? I think it may be the opposite of worry—belief. And I don’t just mean the power of positive thinking. And I don’t mean blind adherence to the law of attraction, with the expectation that, like a cosmic buffet, you can dish up the exact order you placed with the universe. I’m referring to the great unburdening that comes from knowing you don’t have to go it alone out there, whatever your religious or agnostic position is. And to the quiet power that comes from knowing the answers are there, as we’re told endlessly from childhood, if we can just hold still to ask and listen.
So what does this have to do with writing, you might ask? This: writing is one of the best ways I know of to get quiet, to ask and to listen. And so it is one of the best unworrying tools at our disposal. It’s a kind of working meditation. While you go about your work in the coming week, no matter what you’re writing, why not take a few moments to spit out some things you’ve been worrying about. They’ll be less formidable there in stark black and white. And you’ll also get those other good side effects of holding still, while you’re at it.
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