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The Dis-Ease of Worry

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For those expecting to hear how to vaccinate one’s self against being the family scapegoat, no scapegoat talk today, it’s too stressful and raises my cortisol levels.

None of us seems immune to worry, yet some of us tend to be extraordinarily better at it than others.  Growing up and well into adulthood, my father always imparted such annoyingly practical antidotes to worry – arguments that no sane or reasonable man could contest.  He said things like, “Well, don’t worry about it because it won’t do any good!”  Well, I knew logically that my investment of worry wasn’t going to keep the next huge earthquake at bay or keep me from getting a rare form of stomach cancer for drinking too much wine, but his words of reason never seemed to dissipate my neuroses.  His other argument packed a little more punch though: “I learned a long time ago that 98% of the things I worry about never end up happening.  That’s from personal experience.”  Ok, that I could buy into.  It made me realize that maybe this fear-based tendency to reside only in the future was actually not even remotely a good investment of energy.  In fact, it was silly and absurd.

For some reason, we tend to glamorize worry.  We know who we are, and we often say things like “Well, I’m just a worrier.”  or “I’m a worrywart.”  Our inner publicist tends to promote us as some kind of martyr of love for worrying.  I think we actually make peace with this vile and destructive enemy by telling ourselves we only worry because we care, and to some extent being concerned for a loved one’s well-being is an indication of a pulse and a human condition.  But is there efficacy in our “the sky is falling” approach? When worry grows to viral proportions overtaking every single aspect of our lives it is a silent killer and tremendously destructive.  And I do mean destructive.  It destroys our health and it energetically affects the fields of those we are living around. 

Dr. Mehmet Oz, one of the most respected surgeons in the U.S. and the director of the Cardiovascular Institute at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons surgeons of today has said, “Energy medicine is the next frontier.”  What he’s really saying is, the old paradigm is becoming the new paradigm again.  Energy medicine is not some amazing, new discovery in the history of the world.  It’s been around for thousands of years.  It has been at the crux of Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years.  TCM is based on the manipulation of energy meridians to keep Chi or the life force moving in areas of stagnation (read: the beginning of disease).  And it turns out that the Chinese physicians who intuitively mapped acupuncture meridians thousands of years ago were right.  From the book “Energy Medicine for Women” by Donna Eden:

“A body that had been mummified in a snowbound mountainous region along the border between Austria and Italy around 3000 B.C. had tattoos on exactly the point that are indicated in traditional acupuncture for treating the kind of lumbar spine arthritis revealed by an X-ray analysis of the body.  Nine of the fifteen markings were along a meridian that is used in treating back pain, including one on the precise acupuncture point that is considered the “master point” for back pain.  Forensic analysis also revealed that the body’s intestines had been rife with whipworm eggs, and indeed, some of the other markings were on points that are traditionally used for treating stomach upset. Similar tattoos have been found on mummified bodies in other regions, ranging from South America to Siberia.”

“So what.  So what does this have to do with worrying?” you may be wondering. I think we all know that stress depletes the immunes system and opens us up to illness, this has been proven on the most basic scientific medical level.  Does worry cause stress?  Case rested. What are the implications for spreading worry, panic or hysteria to those around us?  The truth is, in a married couple if one person has always tended towards optimism and the other is a debbie-downer or compulsive worrier, over the years, the optimist will tend more towards negative thinking. Now we might assume that the positive influence pulls the other person up with a confident, cheery, everything will work out mood.  Statistically speaking, the opposite is true unfortunately.  The optimistic person starts feeding into the other person’s worry until negative predictions or foretellings of future events becomes habits for them as well.

Some say, “Worrying is praying for what you don’t want.” and we’ve all heard, “You’re going to create a self-fulfilling prophecy.” But before we all begin beating ourselves up for worrying, or worrying about our worrying problem, because we honestly believe we “can’t help it”, let’s peel back another layer of illusion.  First, when we are in the habit of worrying about a result in the future that hasn’t happened, we’re actually creating pathways in our brain.  Every time we are creating the illusion of control by “worrying” about a future event we are making these pathways or grooves in the brain deeper, until the habit is no longer conscious, it’s automatic.  Modern science calls this neuroplasticity which says that we are actually have the power to re-create or re-program our brain at every moment and decision point.  So to banish worry when it has been a security blanket for so many years takes conscious behavior at the start.  It takes asking yourself “Is this really true?” and immediately replacing it with the opposite scenario “In this present moment, this is just as likely to be true and it feels much better.”

Lastly, for those who are only open to hard and fast, pure science and logic, consider the following. What causes this predilection in our loved ones who are monopolizing the airwaves around us with negative predictions, doubt and worry?  The first culprit that comes to mind would obviously be the brain which is the computer and driving force behind most human behavior – at least at the most basic level.  Let’s call it the mothership which controls our predisposition.  Unfortunately, when it comes to human behavior, most people see only the tip of the iceberg, quickly separating the wheat from the chaff.  Good behavior, bad behavior. Curious people ask questions though, and often there are explanations for everything.

In this case, serotonin deficiency is a significant perpetrator behind excessive worrying (one of many manifestations of mal-adaptive behavior, others being forgetfulness, sleep disturbance, loss of sexual interest, social withdrawal, low self-confidence.)  The tragedy bears itself out in the following two scenarios: 1) The strong, silent or proud types rigidly insist on trying to “think their way out of” their misery, or defeatedly announce, “That’s just the way I am.”  or worse yet, get caught in a cycle of feeling bad about the fact that we are feeling bad. 2) We go on synthetic antidepressants which are cheating the body’s natural tendency to heal itself with correcting and healing the balance naturally and also cause abhorrent side effects such as such dead states of feeling flat and numb (I call such “solutions” Humanity Thieves.) 

There is a better option.  Instead, we can assist our body in what it wants to do naturally, by taking 5-HTP which is metabolized from tryptophan, the precursor for serotonin.  L-Tryptophan was threatening the anti-depressants business  in the pharmaceutical industry because it was helping patients, banned and then brought back on the market.    Also, Vitamin D3 deficiency is rampant and shows up in autoposies of cancer patients across the board.  Especially if one haggles with Seasonal Affective Disorder, taking 5,000 – 10,000 IUs of Vitamin D3 a day will make a huge difference.  Vitamin D comes from the sun, remember?  Moods improve with the sun and light to which many with seasonal depression can attest. Are we in danger of taking too much Vitamin D?  Doubtful. 

“In 1999, in an even more interesting study, vitamin D scientist, Bruce Hollis, teamed up with Michael Gloth and Wasif Alam to find that 100,000 IU of vitamin D given as a one time oral dose improved depression scales better than light therapy in a small group of patients with seasonal affective disorder. Gloth FM 3rd, Alam W, Hollis B. Vitamin D vs broad spectrum phototherapy in the treatment of seasonal affective disorder. J Nutr Health Aging. 1999;3(1):5–7. All subjects in the vitamin D group improved in all measures and, more importantly, improvement in 25(OH)D levels levels was significantly associated with the degree of improvement.”

Combatting worry, if not for our loved ones environment and mood, for our own health and peace of mind is often just a matter of going a little easier on ourselves, creating new pathways in the brain, and giving the brain what it’s calling out for.  And dad was right, what I’m spending so much energy on probably isn’t going to come to pass and with life being as cruelly short as it already is, why don’t we reach for our own oxygen masks so we can relax, breathe easy and help others?  Then we can all enjoy life and escape the world of doom and gloom forecasting, a sordid affair for all.


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