For me, self-care means supporting my well-being. It means focusing on my emotional, mental, physical and spiritual health. This week I came across a wonderful tip for boosting my emotional health in Polly Campbell’s new book, How to Live an Awesome Life: How to Live Well, Do Good, Be Happy. She suggests replacing worry with wonder.
If there was an award for worrying, I’d win it. Hands down. Trust me. As I mentioned in this post, if I let my brain do what it wants, it’d freak out about everything. Everything. (And I used to freak out about everything.)
Of course, this isn’t healthy or helpful — even though sometimes we think it is. We think that if we worry, we’re somehow being productive or proactive. We think we’re protecting ourselves, saving ourselves from distress and doom.
But really worry just keeps us stuck. And it makes us feel suffocated and helpless.
As Campbell writes in How to Live an Awesome Life, worry “keeps us sitting on the couch, obsessing over the same thoughts that ultimately come down to how we aren’t good enough, or he’s not good enough, or life isn’t fair.”
She shares this example of what worry looks like: “OMG, what will the neighbors think when they see the wine bottles from the last two months in this week’s recycling bin? I shouldn’t have put them out there. Why, oh why, did I do that?”
It also looks like: What will she think of me if I say no? What if my presentation is a failure? What if I’m this size forever?
Wonder, however, gets us “thinking, trying, playing, moving.”
Wonder looks like this: “Huh. I wonder what else I need to be recycling to help create a more sustainable environment? Or, I wonder if I have more wine bottles in here than anyone else on the block? Or, I wonder whose bin I can toss my bottles into?”
Wonder also looks like: I wonder why I’m so afraid of what she thinks of me? I wonder how I can learn to say no and set solid boundaries? I wonder what makes a helpful presentation? I wonder what I can focus on to do the best I can? I wonder what bothers me about my current size? What lies beneath my worries? I wonder how I can feel comfortable and happy with my current size?
The next time you’re worrying about something, Campbell suggests asking yourself these three questions:
- I wonder why this has me so concerned?
- I wonder what I can do to stop obsessing and feel a little better?
- What is the lesson in this; how can I use this situation to grow?
Asking these questions is so helpful. As Campbell writes, “When we start to question and explore our experience of worry, the emotional intensity diminishes and we get caught up in the curiosity, which is active and fluid rather than stagnant and stuck.”
By the way, when you’re wondering what you can do to stop obsessing and feel better, you might listen to a guided meditation; consider what you’d suggest to a friend (and take your own advice); or move your body by stretching, walking outside, dancing or going for a run. (You’ll find a few more ideas in this post.)
So many of us ruminate about our worries, which only amplifies our anxiety. Shifting your focus to wonder can help. Because wonder helps us explore, examine and learn. Wonder empowers us and gets us moving. Wonder helps us take action — which makes it a powerful way to care for ourselves.
What worries do you struggle with? How can you wonder instead? What helps you navigate worrisome thoughts?