The Howells Group Blog

Forty Day Worry Detox

Worry Photo, worry quote, worry blog, less worry,

As part of my spiritual practice I now observe Lent. It is the period of time from Ash Wednesday to Easter;  a season to look inside, to simplify and to consider the internal state of your heart and soul before God . This year I decided to forgo drinking wine. Though I enjoy wine as a social and mealtime ritual, the much harder concession was to give up my second thing – worry. Yes, you read it right – I’m forgoing worry for Lent. I’ve discovered once again, that only when you choose to give up something you enjoy (wine) or a practice that’s become habitual (worry) do you realize how habituated you truly are! I wouldn’t say I’m “addicted” to worry (or wine)  but I would say that it is such a habit that I have become “unconsciously competent” at this mental state. This basically means I don’t even know I’m doing it! In my mind, worry often slyly disguises itself as “being responsible”, “being adult”, “taking charge of my life”. Instead, worry is the repeated ruminating over a concern, challenge or issue that takes up undue mind space, mental and emotional and even spiritual energy. It also has the ability to magnify a simple concern into a sleepless night. And it is the opposite of confident, creative thinking. It overlooks facts. It completely overrides faith. And it is a colossal waste of time and energy.

I’ve only been in the practice this Lent since Feb 16th, but I’m catching the worry habit more often and with increased swiftness. Also (fortunately or foolishly) I’ve let others including my family know of my Lent commitment. They are “catching me” too. I am working to ”frisk my thoughts at the door” – kind of like sending your thoughts through that machine you have to submit to at the airport. You know – you put your feet on the shoe marks and your hands over your head and the machine whirrs around you. It’s checking for items that shouldn’t go through. Dangerous, unpermitted weapons, objects, etc. I need to do just that with my thoughts – not permit the worry thoughts through “security”. Instead, I’m working to ask “is this really true”? “Is this helpful”? “Is this consistent with my faith”? “Is this faithless, fruitless, unproductive worry”?

Also, like forgoing wine and drinking something else to replace it, I’m seeing how important it is to replace the worry thoughts with something else. Things like Trust. Prayer. Truth. Joy. Problem solving. Creative approaches. Or even laughing at myself.

So whether you celebrate Lent or anything else. I’d recommend this “worry diet”.  It’s a lot harder and even more instructive than an empty wine rack.

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