Let go of worry and trust yourself more
I recently spoke with a client who was struggling with trusting her ability to manage the physical and emotional ramifications of trauma and stress. She was filled with worry to the point that she felt paralyzed at times. Like me, she also battles chronic, persistent pain from a health condition called dystonia, and anyone living with a life altering chronic health condition knows that it is common to worry a lot. Sometimes too much, which can be to our detriment, but I think this is par for the course for most people alive today. Many of us worry too much about so many things, sometimes to the point where it can be all consuming.
I have had this same conversation about worry with many people, but this one lingered. I began thinking about how much trust we put in other people, sometimes more than we give ourselves, and how much we worry more than we should. This can have very negative health consequences, especially if you already live with a chronic health condition as I do with dystonia and chronic pain. The next day I had to go out of town for the weekend and I couldn’t get the concept of trust off my mind and I happened to be in the perfect place to ponder this topic… I was in an airplane!
Sitting in the airplane before takeoff, I began thinking about how much trust I was putting into everyone who was involved in the safety of the flight… the ground crew, the pilots, and those in the control tower who were keeping track of all the incoming and outgoing flights (there are roughly 5000 airplanes in the sky over America at any one time!); not to mention all of the passengers that were packed in like sardines on the plane, none of whom I knew.
Then I got to thinking about the baggage I checked. Would it arrive safely to my destination and would everything still be in my suitcase? While I am always a little nervous flying, for the most part I never give any of the above a second thought (nor do I want to). I just always assume everything will be handled and I will be safe, and I always am. But when I forced myself to think about it, I realized just how many people I put in charge of my life and personal, private belongings.
This prompted me to make a list of things we trust in others with different aspects of our lives, often involving complete strangers. I then realized that it probably outnumbers/outweighs the trust we put in ourselves and our ability to handle stressful situations or just everyday activities, and that we can function well in most any circumstance, and that most of us probably over worry.
After making this list (below), I began to think about how much trust has played a part in my ability to manage my dystonia. For so many years, parts of my body were violently moving in ways I didn’t tell it to. Involuntary movements due to faulty messages in the brain is the nature of dystonia. Through a variety of treatments and self-care activities over the years, I began to gain more control of my movements. When this began to happen, one of the most critical things was for me to begin to trust in myself and my body to be able to function normally again and allow it to do so. In other words, I learned to better flow with the natural, proper rhythm of my body which significantly aided in my ongoing symptom management. I used to always live in ‘protection mode’ to avoid more pain. This made me worse. I was stuck in constant fear and didn’t trust my ability to do anything. I cannot stress enough the importance of trust as it relates to our ability to accomplish anything in life; in this case, our ability to heal.
Back to the list. This is not meant to scare anyone, as I think there is little reason to worry much about any the following. I am sharing it to put into perspective just how much faith we put in others. After reading this list, think about how much trust you give away and then ask yourself, “how much do I trust myself in my everyday life that the things I worry about will work out fine?” In most cases they do work out, so we worry for no reason. This is the point of the article. Do you worry too much and if so, what good is it doing you?Restaurants– We put faith in the people cooking our food, delivering our food, and the people who order the food for the restaurant (hopefully from healthy, reputable distributors). Is anyone working in the restaurant sick, did they wash their hands, are the dishes clean, is the water fresh, etc.? At the end of the meal, we often pay using a credit or debit card, which we give to our server who is often a complete stranger. They could easily copy the name and number and use it for their own purposes. That’s a lot of trust and faith we give to someone we don’t know who could rack up a lot of debt for us. There are of course safety measures in place but think about this trust we give away probably without ever thinking about it.
Food and beverage companies– Do we really know where our food and beverages come from and if they are safe to consume? What about expiration dates? We are so quick to trust a random person we don’t know who slaps a date on a product.
Driving– When we drive we give other drivers on the road tons and tons of trust. Will they obey the speed limit and other signs, not text, eat, talk on the phone, put on makeup, etc. while driving? Will they stop at a red light? How many of you look left and right before heading through an intersection when your light turns green? Probably not many because we assume that everyone coming from the other direction is going to obey the red light… and most do but think about this… we trust that a person we don’t know is going to drop down from a very high speed simply because they have a red light, and we nonchalantly drive through the intersection when our light turns green. It’s pretty amazing how we put so much faith in the power of a colored light.
Doctors– this one is way too detailed to go into, but think about the amount of faith and trust we put into doctors, medications, surgeries, etc. It is astounding.
Mechanics– While I know that many of us may already be skeptical about mechanics, when it comes down to it we trust them to fix our car, probably because most of us don’t understand how a car runs. We pick it up from the repair shop and off we go, assuming everything will work properly. When you go for an oil change, how do you know if they really changed the oil? Did they really adjust the breaks and rotate the tires? Is the new part they replaced actually new or off of some other car that was purchased for parts?
Public transportation– Have you ever been in a taxi, train, plane, bus, or other public transportation where you put your life in the hands of a complete stranger simply because they happen to have a license and were trained to operate a vehicle? That’s a lot of trust.
Cash registers– Do you tally how much you are going to roughly spend once you are done shopping and then trust that the cashier is going to properly scan all the information, let alone the scanner is working and registering the correct price? How often do you count your change to make sure that you were given the right amount? In most cases, we are charged the correct amount and given correct change, so this is not a problem, but it takes a lot to trust that technology will work and the people operating it know how to use it.
Postal service– We stick letters, bill payments, and important packages in the mail assuming they will be picked up and delivered on time. We also trust that important pieces of mail will reach us on time. Watch a video sometime about how many places and people handle your one piece of mail. It amazes me that it arrives, and on time, in most cases. We trust a lot of people with some very important things in the mail.
Baggage arrival– After we fly somewhere, we go to the baggage carousel assuming that our bags are going to arrive and in most cases they do, which to me is rather remarkable given the number of travelers and bags they have to sort at all the airports. It is the rare occasion that a bag is lost, but think about how much trust you give to a stranger with your very personal, private belongings as you travel from one city to the next or one country to another. Like the post office, watch a video sometime that shows how bags are handled once they disappear into the wall on the conveyor belt after we check them at the airport counter. Our luggage takes an amazing trip!
Medications– There are very few people I know in the world who do not take at least one medication for something, but how much do we really know about these medications? How much do our doctors really know about these medications? I think probably far less than we think, but most of the time we take them without giving it a second thought. I think this is changing much more now with people looking online to learn about medicines, but too many of us still don’t question our doctors enough.
Hotel attendants– I’m sure most if not all of us have stayed in a hotel. When we leave the room, we leave some of our valuable personal belongings behind, which the person who cleans our room could snatch up and walk away with at any time.
Social Security number– We are often asked for our Social Security number, which provides so much personal information about us. How amazing it is that we give it away so freely, often without even asking why the other party needs it.
There are many other examples and I am not sharing any of the ones I did to scare you or to for you to worry about, because I think in most cases we can and should trust the people involved in the above mentioned items. I think the reason that we trust all of the above is because we rarely to never have a problem with any of these things, and we probably don’t want to think about them. It is the rare occasion that we get into a traffic accident, our identity is stolen, we lose our baggage, we don’t get from one destination to another safely, we don’t get sick from the food that we eat, etc. Because things consistently work out, we trust that they always will for the most part. Why don’t some of us feel the same way about ourselves more often?
We need to trust that our mind can function optimally and that our body, even if it is compromised like mine with chronic pain and dystonia, has the ability to still perform well, and even heal. We need to let go and trust in ourselves more that we will be okay. When we do this, we reduce stress chemicals that inflame the body, which keeps it from ever getting better. Our mind is a powerful tool at our disposal. How we think about things can be to our benefit or detriment. Give yourself more credit than you do. Everything always finds a way of working out. Do your best to exercise your worrying mind into one that is confident and trusting.
There is one last thought I want to share. Have you ever noticed yourself or others frequently saying, “I will worry about that later” or “I will worry about that tomorrow?” Why do we use the word “worry” so often? Why do we set ourselves up to worry more than we already do or need to? Try and catch yourself and the words you use. I think it is best to eliminate the word “worry” and instead say, I’ll “think about” or I’ll “handle that” later or tomorrow. Use words that put you in a proactive position versus one that weakens you and sets you up for emotional pain.
Tom Seaman is a Certified Professional Life Coach in the area of health and wellness, and author of the book, Diagnosis Dystonia: Navigating the Journey, a comprehensive resource for anyone suffering with any life challenge. He is also a motivational speaker, chronic pain and dystonia awareness advocate, health blogger, and volunteers for the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation (DMRF) as a support group leader, for WEGO Health as a patient expert panelist, and is a member and writer for Chronic Illness Bloggers Network. To learn more about Tom and get a copy of his book, go to Amazon.com or visit www.tomseamancoaching.com. Follow him on Twitter @Dystoniabook1 and Instagram.