June 23, 2011
I’ve always called myself a worrier and have worked for years on worrying less. As far as how successful I’ve been, the operative word is “less.” I am less worried that I used to be. But I had a powerful experience recently that showed me the level of anxiety I carry all the time (anxiety being the underlying feeling related to worry—more on that next time). I was part of an experiment to test the results of training in mindfulness and compassion. As part of it, I had to rate myself twice a day for nine weeks on a scale of 1-7 on how anxious I was, how calm I was, and several other factors.
Just keeping up with the surveys made me anxious. They were like rabbits breeding in my inbox. The minute I got one out, the next arrived. But what was more telling was to realize that my anxiety number was between 4-5 every day (1 being not at all and 7 being very much). If I’d just meditated, it might drop to 3 but never lower. After all the work I’ve done on myself, it was pretty discouraging until I realized that if I had done such a survey when I was younger, my average would have been 6-7. My big takeaway was that I’ve made progress, but I’m still carrying a pretty heavy “perpetually-waiting-for-something-bad-to-happen” in my being. I’d like to continue to transform that.
What about you? If you had to rate yourself on a scale between 1 (not at all) and 7 (very much), how anxious are you? How calm are you? Does it fluctuate much? What would you like that number to be?
If this topic interests you, keep coming back. I plan to explore worry, fear, and anxiety through a variety of lenses over the next few weeks (and perhaps longer) and share what I’m learning.