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  • Writer's pictureEllen

Contain Your Worry to Make Space for Peace

Updated: Jul 1, 2020

Learn a simple strategy to keep thoughts and worries from taking over

You've likely spent hundreds of hours in your head over these past couple of months, worried and fearful about the uncertainty of the virus and all of its implications.

I understand, and that’s why I would love for you to have this strategy in your toolbox as it has brought me so much ease over the years.

This one comes from my sweet soul grandmother…

Over 20 years ago, she was with us here in Connecticut receiving treatment for cancer. I felt fortunate that I was able to take her to the hospital every day as we had great meaningful conversations.

One in particular stood out to me. In this conversation, I asked her if she was worried about the outcome of her treatment as she always seemed so peaceful, calm and relaxed about it.

She said, “Of course I am worried. I think about it every day. But I set a timer.”

I was so surprised by her answer and asked her to explain.

“Well, I could be in a pity party all day long or I could be worried about things that I can't change or control. That doesn't do me any bit of good, so I set a mental timer for myself, every day.

Some days, it's five minutes. Some days, I'll give myself 10 minutes. But when that timer goes off, I'm done. And then I just carry on with my day.”

I was stunned that it was so simple. Because I got to spend so much time with her during this period, I could see that it really was working for her. She was very peaceful and calm about her condition and the way she connected with us. She had great conversations with everyone and was able to spend time doing the things she enjoyed doing.

It has stuck with me, and especially during this unique time, I've borrowed her strategy several times and put a lovely container around my worry.

Thinking things through is important. It's how we solve problems and frame what we want our life to be like. Overthinking things that we can't control, however, can send us in a direction that doesn't feel good.

It's almost like if you have a full glass of water, and you just keep pouring more and more water into the glass until it's overflowing. You aren't gaining anything but a mess to clean up as the extra water spills out onto the counter or floor.

When we worry too much without having a container, our nervous systems reacts, sending a cascade of chemicals and hormones, which can lead to:

  • anxiety

  • sadness

  • difficulty sleeping

  • headaches

  • fatigue

  • sadness

It's not that any one of those things is wrong to feel or experience. Allow yourself to feel what you are feeling. But if you are trying to shift the discomfort into a sense of peace and ease, I invite you to try this.

It's as simple as creating a beautiful container for yourself:

  • Find a time in your day where you allow yourself to think about the things that you are worried about and can't control.

  • Use your phone to set a timer for 5,10, or 15 minutes, so that you are spending a limited amount of time in that mental space.

  • Let your mind take you wherever it wants to go. Feel what you are feeling.

  • When the timer goes off, it's time to think about something that brings you joy.

I know it isn't always easy but if you make a commitment to practice every day you might just feel that you've attended to your worries without them consuming you.

So thank you, Grandma. I appreciated the lesson then, and I’ve appreciated it every time I've needed it since. I hope this practice will help you too!


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