I am indebted to Paul Douglas who inspired this conversation.
I've been talking with people. I've been asking offhandedly "What do
you worry about?". That's not the same question as "What are you
worried about?". The former is really a
there's at least some of you
in "What do you worry about?" whereas there's hardly any of you
in "What are you worried about?".
I say to them "I don't just mean things like 'I worry my team won't win
the big game on Friday' or 'I worry the accident on the bridge will
make me late for work and the parking lot will be full.'. That's
chickenshit worrying. I mean what do you
really worry about. What do you worry about so much you
at night? What do you worry about so much that it winds your stomach up
in a knot and makes you feel sick? What do you worry about that's so
to tell anyone?".
What I found in this unexpectedly revealing exercise is many of the
things we each worry about are same things we
all worry about. Furthermore, it seems there are
consistently things we each worry about for ourselves individually, and
then there are also those things we each worry about for all of us, for
Here's what's interesting: you would think the more people you talk
with, the more diversified the worryings you'd hear about. More people
equals more and different worryings, right? You would think so. But
apparently that's not the case. There aren't as many different
worryings as I thought there would be. It's quite a small set actually,
a small set which has one thing in common: when we worry, for ourselves
and for all of us, we're all driven by the same compelling
question. That question comes in so many different and varying
shapes, sizes, forms, and expressions. But I'll bet you good
that in each case, each one of those expressions comes down to the same
thing: with regard to our worrying for ourselves, it's
"Will ... I ... survive?"; with
regard to our worrying for all of us, it's "Will ... we
"Will I be healthy?", "Will I have enough
"Will I have a place to stay?", "Will I have someone who
me?", "When will I die?", "Will I suffer?" are some of the variants of
"Will I survive?". On the other hand, "Will
be OK?", "Will
thrive?", "Will my country be safe?", "Will
for everyone, or will it implode?" are some of the variants of "Will we
survive?". Almost anything and everything we worry about is a variant
of "Will I survive?" / "Will we survive?".
in response to a question I asked him, shared something with me about
which altered my life (one of the many, many things he's shared with me
which altered my life). What he shared with me is (I'm
how what he said occurred for me - I'm not
is supposed to cure
... except it never does. Man! That's remarkable. Did you get
it? In a similar theme I'd like to suggest worrying is supposed to cure
being worried ... except it never does.
really isn't about what to do about the things you worry
about. You'll either do something about them or you won't. It's taking
which has the power. Worrying itself has no power. You may as well hire
someone to do your worrying for you. In terms of solving the problem,
it will have about the same effect.
Rather, what this
is about is distinguishing the "Will I survive?" / "Will we survive?"
mechanism which drives all worrying. That's what survival does. The
thing about survival is it's on full automatic. And the value in
distinguishing survival is on full automatic, is it
space, some room ie it opens the drapes letting in light
so survival can just be. When you let survival just be,
it lets you just be. Then there's the
possibility of you being senior to it instead
of the other way around.