I’ve been thinking a lot about worry. I’m thinking that it has to be one of the worst emotions. Sadness, pain, rejection – these are all emotions that are felt after an event occurs. Worry is really just anxious anticipation of something bad possibly happening. It’s an unnecessary evil, but also human nature.
I used to think that a little worry was a good thing. It meant that you deeply cared about something enough to actually worry about it. But now, I feel like nothing good comes from worrying. Feeling worry makes me feel worse about everything else too. It’s like all of my insecurities become elevated. And stress is just another form of worry.
Worry doesn’t actually prepare you for the pain, rejection, or sadness that a traumatic event invokes. We worry as a defense mechanism thinking it will ease negative affects, when really, it seems to almost invite things to go wrong. How many times have you reacted with, “I knew something bad was going to happen”?
I’m a big believer in mind over matter, and I truly believe in the Buddha saying “What we think, we become.” I’ve seen this ring true in my own life and in the lives of people close to me.
Everything in life takes work. So while I would like to say, try not to worry and let the chips fall where they may. It’s not that easy. There really is power in positive thinking, and we need to turn that worry into faith, hope and/or prayer.
We may not have the ability to control the outcomes of things in our lives, but we do have the ability to control how we feel about them. Sometimes that means owning our pain and sometimes that means changing our thinking. But this takes a lot of work and practice. We have to self-reflect enough to be self-aware, so we can self-control.
And this is just as much of a reminder for me, as it is for you.
In all that I’ve been reading in Braving the Wilderness, I feel like there’s one thing that has been left out: empathy. But I don’t think it is so much left out as it is actually implied. And I really don’t think that people are as empathetic as they probably think they are.
Definition of empathy
1: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner; also : the capacity for this
Brown talks of her research and says we need to “show up for collective moments of joy and pain so we can actually bear witness to inextricable human connection.”
I was at my cousin’s wedding shower recently. She was so touched by a certain gift that she was brought to tears. I wanted to cry watching her cry. In that moment, I could almost feel exactly what she was feeling. We connected in that moment, and I felt for her. And I wasn’t the only one. Looking around the crowd, you could just tell that others connected with her in that moment too.
But we must understand our own feelings before we can understand the feelings of others, before we can empathize. Brown says that “we must own our pain.” Pain builds character.
Do you ever have those moments when you don’t want people to cheer you up, when you just want to be pissed off? I would say that is good! Feel that anger! Feeling it is the only way you work through it. Working through our emotions is how we understand our feelings. But you know what it takes to own our pain? Courage to be vulnerable.
When we empathize with one another in the collective moments, we connect as humans. And that’s really what life is all about.
Rather than pitching wild and innovative new ideas that could potentially change everything, we’re staying quiet and small in our bunkers and loud in our echo chambers.
It is sad that our world has become so polarized that we can’t even openly express our thoughts without fear of criticism or repercussion. People are so fixated on placing the blame on others that we don’t take the time to reflect on how we may contribute to the problem.
In one of my leadership trainings, I was taught that self-awareness is one of the most critical skills a leader can have. And it is surprisingly a skill that a lot of people lack. But shouldn’t we understand our own feelings before we judge others for theirs? We cannot control what others feel as we cannot control what we feel. So why are we so quick to blame others when they may feel differently than we do about something?
Perspective is a function of experience.
We all have different perspectives, because we all have different experiences. And our level of self-awareness can influence our experience. When we communicate our perspectives, we learn from one another giving us new perspectives. This is how we evolve as people and a society.
Exiting our bunkers and echo chambers is scary. We are opening ourselves up to the harsh reality of where we are as a society. A society focused on blame fixing over truly understanding. We have to be vulnerable by communicating our experiences, and that is braving the wilderness.