The Joy of Worrying

I have yet to meet someone who enjoys worrying. Sure, there are people that seem to spend their whole life worrying but I doubt they find any joy in it.

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Mark Twain Quote

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Personally, I don’t like worrying. I have worked hard on myself to stop worrying. That doesn’t mean I don’t, but it means I worry less and I take action sooner. I got one of my biggest lessons about worry when I attended a course organised by Rolf and Awsa Beckman — the people that trained me as a Firewalking Instructor.

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The course was 5 days with Tolly Burkan and the minute I heard about it, I knew I had to go. Tolly is the man who is credited with bringing Firewalking to the modern world. A fascinating man, who has such a lot to share with the world. Indeed, if you ever have the opportunity to train with him, take it! I did and I learned so much about me.

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The course was called The Core Teaching and we participated in a variety of activities that were used as metaphors for learning. I signed up for the course with no idea what would be happening over the 5 days. I didn’t need to know, I already knew I would learn a lot from the experience. We actually never knew what we would be doing until the night before each day (at the earliest).

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During the first 4 days we participated in a sweat lodge, a Firewalk, a sky dive, a vision quest and much more. It was great, I loved it all. I was learning loads. Everything was honky dory. The sky dive didn’t even scare me (much) even though I have a love/hate relationship with heights. Actually, I can’t wait to do a solo jump when the right opportunity appears.

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On the final evening we sat down to be briefed about the final day. At this stage I thought we had done all the “big” challenges we were going to do. But, as Tolly began to chat about what we needed to do the next morning, my heart sank. Before he said it, I knew we were going to be abseiling into a cave. I was familiar with the activities that Tolly uses and the rappel/abseil is the one I did NOT want to do.

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I am reasonably experienced with abseiling. I have done it dozens of times since I was in my teens. It’s never been something that I enjoyed and now we were going to be doing it as part of a course that I had promised to give 100% to, 100% of the time. Not doing the abseil was not part of the equation.

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Remarkably, I did not dwell on what we would be doing the next day and instead, had a really comfortable nights sleep. The drive to the abseil site was grand too, I was not going to let the thoughts of what we would be doing get in the way of enjoying the scenery and company.

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Things started to change though when we entered the cave and began to get our harnesses on. I felt sick to my stomach and was full of dread. I could hear the voices in my head telling me about how much I hated abseiling and that it scared me. So, I kept telling myself that the experience would be easy, there was nothing to worry about and I could do it.

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That said, I still had to step away a few times and take deep breaths to calm myself. It was sort of working but the dread was still consuming me.

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We had arranged ourselves that I would be going fifth but as it approached my turn, I told the people behind me that I would go last. And that is when the lesson came.

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Rolf, began to laugh in the way that he does and went on to say in his big booming voice:

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“Wow, look at this! Stephen is so worried about this and loves that feeling so much that he is going to let everyone else go before him just so that he can stay in the feeling of worry for that bit longer. He really must love that feeling of worry because he is going to procrastinate for a while longer”.

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I can still hear his voice and laughter to this day and it makes me smile.

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He was right and I knew it. I was putting off what was inevitable. It was inevitable because there was no way that I wasn’t going to do it. So why was I putting it off? Why was I prolonging the worry, the dread and the fear?

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It was stupid! I knew it was stupid before he spoke. This is the stuff that I get people to think about in my own work and here was me doing exactly what I tell people to do.

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There is nothing wrong with worrying. It’s natural. But we definitely need to be aware of our worrying and stop it gripping us to an extent where is stops us from doing what we want to do or need to do.

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Question: Do you let worry rule your life? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Stephen Brown is passionate about developing people and teams using a variety of activities as opportunities for learning. Stephen is dedicated to helping people overcome fears, challenge their comfort zones and grow as individuals. He has years of experience and skills delivering personal and social development courses for individuals and teams and is committed to helping people realise that they can live a happy life.

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