10 June 2014

“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Growing up at Brigedene Convent, I heard this saying often, from one of my teachers in particular. Even if you’re not religious, it’s easy to appreciate the sentiment of this quote, known as the ‘serenity prayer’, for its ability to capture not only what it’s like to worry, but also how we can choose to react to this emotion.

dont_worryI once overheard someone compare worrying to being on a rocking horse where, no matter how much energy you expend, you’re likely to remain in the same place as you started. Anxiety is toxic when it’s flowing through your body all the time. Ask yourself why you are worrying. Is it something that you could find a solution to? Is it something you need help to solve? Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t know all the answers; none of us do. Sometimes, changing things does require courage.

However, if you really are faced with a situation that’s out of your hands then you’re much better off refocussing your energy. Find a quiet spot and take some time to think about all of the things you are thankful for. Why? Because it’s not possible to experience two emotions at once. You might feel one, followed in quick succession by another, but never simultaneously. So choose to replace that negative emotion with a more positive one. Change your state by altering your breathing – and your environment if needs be. Life’s too short for worry without a cause.

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