5 min read

Excerpt from Why Worry?

by Kathryn Tristan

To begin taking back the reins of control, you first must wake up. It may not seem like you are slumbering when worry and fear dominate your life, but both numb your sense of joy and adventure. You are constantly vigilant about the possible dangers of a situation, rather than experiencing the excitement and pleasure it may hold. You become distrustful of life and wish to control the world so that you and everyone you care about are safe and sound. On the surface, this makes sense. But it is the balance of logical concerns and chronic worry that determines whether you are enjoying your life or merely coping with it. A worried mind sees fewer possibilities; it primarily focuses on what is wrong about a situation instead of what is right. An expansive mind sees a positive outcome and perceives potential.

Your recovery from worry and fear begins when you learn to become aware of the internal powerhouse that only you possess— the power of choice. Overcoming worry is less about eliminating it than it is about recognizing how to productively deal with the stresses and struggles that seed it. Becoming peaceful despite your challenges means learning to make better choices in how you view and deal with them.

CORE concept 1 states:

I always have choices.

What does this mean? Did you choose to lose your job? Did you choose that the truck would hit your car and leave you injured? Did you choose to get stuck in this snowstorm?

Of course not. Let’s face it: We exert very little control over the external events of our lives. But control and choice differ dramatically. Control is the attempt to command and dictate what happens externally in your life, while choice directs what happens internally. Choice provides the only true control you’ll ever possess. That is the seat of your power. Thus, your control lies within and comes from your ability to exercise the power of choice.

I Always Have Choices means:

You can’t necessarily control what happens to you,

but you can control your reaction.

You choose how to react.

This shift in thinking allows you to replace false power (which eventually fails) with authentic power (which always succeeds). False power relies upon external forces that are not subject to your control. Authentic power is something that you own, that is yours, that no one can take away from you. It arises from your ability to choose how you react to any challenge. All else can be taken from you, except your authentic power, the power to direct and com - mand your own thoughts. As a result, true control lies in releasing the need to control your outside world and instead taking charge of your inside world.

How can you access this authentic power? Try the following exercise:

Point to yourself.

Don’t think about it; just point to yourself. Now look where you are pointing. Are you pointing to your head? Are you pointing to your toes?

Most people point to their heart, not their head or other places. What does that mean? It suggests that who we truly are lies less in our ever-analyzing brain and more in our emotional core—the feeling part of us that is represented by our heart.

In our heart, we identify with our higher feelings. Our heart symbolizes abstract concepts such as intuition, soul, and of course, love. Our heart also mediates strong feelings such as sadness and fear; the energy of a rapidly beating heart can come from both the excitement of joy and the pangs of apprehension.

When we experience heartfelt love for ourselves, for another, or even for an activity we are engaged in, we are at peace, happy, and in a place that feels good and right. But when we feel bad, our chest can literally ache. You may have seen things that are “heartbreaking,” or have experienced a “heavy heart” or “heartache,” and you may have heard it said that so-and-so “didn’t have the heart to do it.”

The importance of the heart as an emotional center has been recognized since ancient times. The Greek philosopher Aristotle taught that the heart is the center of thought, emotion, and intelligence. The Egyptians felt that the heart was the seat of the soul as well as of thought, emotion, and memory. After death, according to dictates in the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the deceased’s heart would be weighed. Leading a virtuous life kept the heart light, while leading a less virtuous life caused the heart to enlarge. Only “lighthearted” people were allowed into the afterlife. Indeed, even today many metaphysical teachers suggest that the heart-mind connection is a powerful and dynamic circuit and a gateway into the realm of mind-body-spirit.

Rewiring Worry: EARL versus PEARL

Regardless of how we interpret the importance of the heart, it is clear that when you are worried and afraid, many things are happening in your body, but your pounding heart is the nucleus of this reaction. To repair and rewire the worry circuit, you need to work from the inside out and start, symbolically, at the level of your heart. That is, you gain access to your CORE power by becoming more aware of your thoughts and feelings. Focusing your attention on the mind-heart connection allows you to do that.

Before we begin this process, let’s talk about two opposing aspects of your heart center. These are polarities with different functions. One focuses on protection while the other focuses on peacefulness. I have given these aspects names to reflect the constellations of feelings and reactions they represent.

The first one is EARL. Exaggerating, Angry, Rigid, Limiting

EARL is never satisfied with anything and constantly chatters about concerns and worries. EARL exaggerates and easily feels anger and anxiety. EARL trusts no one and offers worrisome thoughts of caution, wariness, and withdrawal in order to keep you safe from that which is unknown or threatening. This aspect remembers all the things that have ever frightened you and doesn’t want them to recur. It wants to hold you back from moving too far out there, to keep you safe from harm. EARL energy is like your own police department, whose motto is “To Serve and Protect.”

EARL is that inner force that tries to stop you from encountering possible dangers. EARL is not bad; its desire is to protect. EARL wants you to worry and be fearful as a means of keeping you and others safe and sound.

If worry has a grip on your life, you know EARL very well.

But there’s another aspect of your heart zone—PEARL. Peaceful, Earnest, Adventurous, Resilient, Loving.

PEARL is much more relaxed and fun. PEARL is fearless and believes that everything will work out just fine. PEARL feels confident that you can handle anything that comes along. This aspect gives selflessly, laughs frequently, and loves to play. It is the whisper of joy and contentment when you feel love for someone or something.

Each of us has an EARL side and a PEARL side. Simply put, we have two competing sides of our spirit; we can be peaceful, joyful, positive, and loving but also worried, fearful, anxious, and angry. Some call these sides “higher self” and “lower self.” While the word Exaggerating Angry Rigid Limiting Peaceful Earnest Adventurous Resilient Loving high often represents positive and low negative, there is actually no good or bad, right or wrong, in this instance. There are just two polarities, like in a magnet. There is one that attracts and one that repels. There is one that is up and one that is down. Both of these polarities can be of help, but balance is the key. For example, we need to be careful, but when we are too careful, we may not take the risks we need to follow our dreams. We need to be fearless, except if there is danger present.

An excerpt from Why Worry? Stop Coping and Start Living by Kathryn Tristan


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