Some precious people in my life were in extreme pain right around the same time.
Three friends were sorting through the natural disaster that breaking up brings on. And after a traumatic and poignantly one-in-a-million accident, one of my beloveds was literally patching together a new body and life.
I cried with them in cafes and on the phone. I wrote letters I know they were too weary to respond to. I thought about them throughout every day. I ached, actively. Concerned.
But I did not worry for them. Couldn’t do it. Wouldn’t do it. Refused to. Not because I trust in an benevolent universe to carry them (which I do) and not because I’m disassociated (I’m anything but). I didn’t let myself worry for them because I think it’s not only futile, but it’s obstructive.
Worry only gets in the way of good intentions, energy, solutions. It’s toxic.
Worry vs. Concern
Energetically, there is a critical difference.
Worry: to torment oneself with or suffer from disturbing thoughts.
Concern: to relate to; be connected with; be of interest or importance to; affect.
Worry obstructs possibility. Concern is pro-active.
Worry weighs things down. Concern can rise to the occasion.
Worry is wistful. Concern is penetrating.
Worry tangles. Concern peels back the layers.
Worry gossips. Concern enrolls.
Worry is the conjoined twin of anxiety. Of course, concern can be riddled with anxiety, but it’s strong enough to turn anxiety into a constructive force.
The darkest, gnawing side of worry is this: it’s an illusory form of control that we might cling to in order to feel important and goodly. Yep, goodly; not Godly. As in, I’m a good manager, friend, mother, Christian, citizen, leader if I express my love, smarts, interest by worrying.
How to Transform Your Worry for Others into Positivity So You Can Truly Be of Service
Stand outside of the story.
Every fearful expectation has a big story behind it. The trauma, the drama, the pain, the plot. Worry feeds on the gruesome details. It replays the potential saga in your head. It validates all the reasons things could go wrong by drudging up the past again and again. Worry is cleverly building a case as to why you should worry. (You’re a better person if you do; you’re on top of the details; it’s the sympathetic thing to do; things have gone wrong so many times before; it’s only logical to…worry. And on it goes.)
Don’t let yourself be pulled onto the set of the unfolding drama. Stay behind the camera and go where you’re needed to shed light on things. Witnessing is an act of compassion. Whether it’s with force or a light touch, you get to call the shots on how you will show up in any difficult situation.
Keep a soft gaze.
No one needs your judgment about why they got themselves into something or all of the things that could go wrong. Gently observe what’s going on and stick to the facts. This is really tricky because facts can be relative. Medical test results are facts. So is someone’s immense inner strength. Choose the facts that keep you moving in a better direction. Friends in pain (and we all qualify as friends who are hurting) need love and optimism; critique and prognostication are big fat downers.
Let your heart be broken.
Life will devastate you if you get close enough to it. Get closer. In the cosmic fabric, your pain is mine is yours is mine. When we can share this unified space, we know how to be of better service to one another, and we can better empathize.
Put a stake of devotion in the ground.
How far will you let your concern take you for a friend? (Limits are okay, by the way. Enlightened concern isn’t about martyrdom.) Are you willing to catch the next plane, withdraw your savings, find a lawyer, change bandages, mix herbs, listen tirelessly? Your devotion may shrink or expand as the situation unravels. But if you can declare how you intend to be truly helpful, then worry takes a backseat.
This is the single most effectual way to diffuse worry and move into positivity. Worry will crop up. Don’t let it stagnate. Cleanse your worry with precise wishes.
I’m worried that he’ll stay lonely. I wish him sweet love.
I’m worried the meds won’t work. I wish her quantum healing.
I’m worried she’ll do something drastic. I wish her equilibrium.
I’m worried he’ll sink into depression. I wish him lightness.
I’m worried this will takes years. I wish for swift grace.
While you’re at it, you could do one gorgeous global wish: I wish for the end of suffering and happiness of all beings. That about covers it.
Send wishes. And more wishes. The wishes will nest in your psyche and begin to inform your concern, your words, your actions. When you’re not preoccupied with worrying, you’re free to serve, in so many ways.
Danielle LaPorte is the outspoken creator of The Desire Map, author of The Fire Starter Sessions (Random House/Crown), and co-creator of Your Big Beautiful Book Plan. An inspirational speaker, former think tank exec and business strategist, she writes weekly at DanielleLaPorte.com, where over a million visitors have gone for her straight-up advice — a site that’s been deemed “the best place on-line for kick-ass spirituality”, and was named one of the “Top 100 Websites for Women” by Forbes.
*Featured image by Thai Jasmine (Smile..smile…Smile..)