I have been a worrier for years. It took a long, long time for me to realize that worrying got me nowhere except sleepless, cranky and scared. So I finally decided to do something about it. I didn’t take drugs, I didn’t join an ashram or follow a guru. I simply told myself this: “Stop it. Stop worrying. You don’t run the world, you just run in it. Worrying will only keep you restless and upset. Who needs that?”
The worst part of worrying is that it usually happens right when I’m tired and want to go to bed. All the buzz in my head kept me from sleeping, so I was not only cranky the next day, but also sleep deprived.
If my own mantra of stopping worry doesn’t help, then I picture myself on a beautiful island. My island is in the middle of a peaceful ocean, and it has everything I need on it. I even have my own boat and captain should I want to go somewhere. On my island there are rules that must be kept: no worrying, no swearing, no hurting people or animals, no greed, no anxiety, no bad dreams and no troubles.
There is only one port on my island, and only one dock where ships may land. There is a huge sign on the dock that reads “IF YOU ARE BRINGING WORRY, FEAR, DOUBT, MALICE, TROUBLE OR HURTFUL BEHAVIOR, YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO LAND HERE. TURN YOUR SHIP AROUND IMMEDIATELY AND DO NOT EVER COME BACK!”
I got the idea for my beautiful island Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, “Eat, Pray, Love.” The concept of it intrigued me, and also helped me to sleep! When I can put that island up in my head, knowing that no bad things will come to me there, I can put my head down on my pillow. I can listen to the Crankee Yankee’s quiet breathing along with a lightly snoring cat or two. If something worrisome gets in my head, I throw it into the ocean where it falls right to the bottom.
Strangely enough, this works. This image makes me realize that I can’t control the world around me, but I can control my thoughts, that is; my island. When I go to bed believing that the best things will happen, not bad things, I can then drop off to sleep.
Try it. Build yourself a perfect island (or house or yurt or whatever works for you), and design just for you and all the things that make you happy. It becomes a good habit sooner than you’d think.
Sweet dreams, everyone.