LET’S BE AT PEACE . . . Come What May

Hello from southwest Florida. I hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy.  Our golf community just had its first case of the virus, so we’re in quarantine, just like so many of you. 

As we listen to government warnings, gossip, and TV experts, it’s all too easy to lose sight of hope and tolerance–just when we need them most. So, when we find ourselves captivated by fear, let’s seek peace of mind instead.

Today, I offer you these words of love and peace, plus two powerful tools to help us face this challenge together.

Gratitude Brings Peace of Mind

I thank God (literally) for our food, water, and electricity. Not to mention my fun, steady husband of 30 years (need I remind you, he’s my 4th?). And let’s not forget our very social and entertaining cat, Murphy. 

But, most of all, I’m grateful for the opportunity to connect my heart with yours across space and time. More than ever, I’ve been joining with loved ones through prayer, positive thoughts, social media, and internet-based gatherings. (A friend just texted me, “I wish I had bought stock in Zoom!”). These connections are, most definitely, my life-line (remember, I’m the former “Queen of Worry!”).

If you’re feeling uncertain, take a moment to make your own gratitude list— truly a mental/emotional game-changer (and, I often do need to change the “game” in my head!)

Two Truths: Take ‘Em to The Bank!

During challenging times, I believe (right down to my toes) two things:

  1. We are all connected in spirit, and by joining together, our loving power can get us through anything
  2. My job is to replace my fear and panic with peace of mind, so I can reach out to others with love, encouragement, and care. 

Tool 19 from my book, 50 Ways to Worry Less Now, will help you find your own center of peace, wisdom, and courage.

Loving-Kindness Practice

This Buddhist practice (also called metta) calms your mind, opens your heart to goodness, activates the power of your true self, and dissolves whatever may be blocking your love for others.

First, say the affirmation for yourself:

  • May I be at peace.  May my heart remain open.
  • May I awaken to the light of my own true nature.
  • May I be healed. May I be a source of healing for all beings.

Now, say it for your loved ones and the entire world: May we be at peace. May our hearts remain open; May we awaken to the light of our own true nature. May we be healed. May we be a source of healing for all beings.

Finally, and this may be the most important of all, say it for someone you worry about or dislike: May you (name) be at peace; May your heart remain open. May you awaken to the light of your own true nature. May you be healed. May you be a source of healing to all beings.

I have memorized this Loving Kindness affirmation and say it often. Give it a try. It really works!

Blocks to Love: Judging, Resenting, Condemning

Why is the last version of this prayer so important? Simply put, hatred and judgement block our ability to give and receive love. Seeing people with forgiveness rather than condemnation is the most healing choice we can make–for the whole world.

“Dear God, please help me to see this differently.”

Join me in asking our higher power to help us see all others with love rather than criticism, and to fully open our hearts to one another. This is, after all, God’s will for us.

gigi langer worry less now

Gigi Langer, 34 years sober, holds a Ph.D. in Psychological Studies in Education and an MA in Psychology from Stanford University. Through her writing, coaching, and speaking, Gigi has helped thousands of people improve their lives at home and work. A former professor of teacher education at Eastern Michigan University, she lives in Michigan and Florida with her husband, Peter, and Murphy, her cat.

worry less now audiobook gigi Langer

Get Gigi’s new book, 50 Ways to Worry Less Now: Reject Negative Thinking to Find Peace, Clarity, and Connection” (5 Stars on Amazon). Available in audio, e-book, and paperback Click HERE for special offers.

  • “This book is a winner.” Karen Casey, Bestselling Hazelden author
  • “Valuable, heartfelt manual.” — Publishers Weekly (BookLife)

GOT SEX, SECURITY or SOCIAL PROBLEMS?

Anxiety Attack Worry Less Now

When our survival instincts for procreation, security, and community exceed their proper function, we want what others have, lust for sex and power, and become exceedingly angry when our demands aren’t met. (Bill Wilson) *

Many of us have valiantly tried to satisfy our overblown needs through our own efforts. For example, my selfish search for emotional security drove me to sick relationships, overwork, and manipulation. In the end, I hurt both myself and others.  

So, how then do we grow out of the patterns that threaten our romantic life, safety, and productive relations? First, we must sincerely want to find a better way to live. Then, we look at our own part in our unhappiness, and take actions to become the person we want to be.

Most important, we find like-minded people to give us unselfish support as we come to trust a loving, protective power to fulfill our needs.

What’s the Problem with Exaggerated Needs?

We begin our journey by listing each survival instinct, along with the personal cost of trying to force the world to fulfill it. See if any of these needs and consequences apply to your life (add to the list, if you wish).

  1. Unmet Emotional Needs cause low self-esteem, perfectionism, addiction, self-harm, anxiety
  2. Threatened Material Security causes inflated ambition, dishonesty, overwork, worry, stress
  3. Dysfunctional Social Relations result in codependency, prestige-seeking, competitiveness, gossip, failed relationships, conflict
  4. Dishonest Sex Relations lead to promiscuity, disease, selfishness 

Driven by fears of losing what we so desperately need, we may have been selfish, dishonest, and resentful. To free ourselves from these patterns, we write about the following questions and share our answers with a trusted person (therapist, clergy, sponsor, or spiritual advisor).

In what ways did I hurt others or myself,? Where was I . . .

  • Selfishly seeking my own security, social needs, or sexual gratification; and ignoring others’ feelings?
  • Dishonest with myself and others about my motives to satisfy my security, social relations, sex needs?
  • Fearful of not getting my needs met, and trying to control people and things so I could feel .more secure?
  • Resentful about my frustrated demands for security, social relations or sex?

This work helps us see the futility of expecting the world and others to fulfill our needs. No matter how hard we’ve tried, it just hasn’t worked, as it’s caused harm to ourselves and others. After sharing our shortcomings with a trusted confidant, we go to work to overcome our negative patterns.

If we’re addicts, alcoholics, workaholics, overeaters, gamblers, or regularly numb ourselves from life’s disappointments, we need help. In my case, I found a skilled therapist and the 12-step programs of AA, Al-Anon, and ACOA.

Self-Compassion

As I met with others who had faced similar challenges, I realized I wasn’t the only one confused about how to keep myself safe and secure; that everyone’s instincts caused them and others trouble.

I came to see my old hurtful actions as misguided attempts to fulfill my own needs. For example, in my alcoholic home, I decided, “If I’m perfect, everyone will like and admire me, and I won’t feel so alone and afraid.” I went on to get good grades, advanced degrees, and professional awards. Eventually, those efforts led to anxiety, alcoholism, drug addiction, chronic pain, and three divorces. Clearly, my attempt to ensure my own happiness was failing.

Loving Support and Security

As I joined with healthy others, I found I was not uniquely bad; I had been merely a desperate mess. Many of my recovering friends had done worse things than I had, and they had become good, reliable, caring people. Perhaps, with help, I could be a better person too.

Through the loving care of others, I began to own my strengths. For example, through my people-pleasing, I developed social skills that had to be balanced with self-care and boundary-setting. Ditto with my perfectionism; I certainly knew how to work hard–an asset–but only when I combined it with adequate rest and self-forgiveness.

Being immersed in groups of happy people who are healing their lives led me to my own source of security–a power greater than my fears. I was relieved that no one pushed me to believe in their definition of a “higher power.” Eventually, with guidance from my sponsor, therapist, and other spiritual teachers, I began to trust in an ever-present love that fulfilled all my needs.

These days, I often take a quiet moment to connect with this benevolent, caring power. In times of trouble, however, when I’m afraid my needs couldn’t possibly be met, I rely on my healthy friends to stream that positive power into my life and mind.

Knowing that love is always available gives me great security, and I’m ever grateful for that.

*NOTE: The ideas presented here are based on the Step 4 Inventory of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Gigi Langer security

Gigi Langera person in recovery, holds a Ph.D. in Psychological Studies in Education and an MA in Psychology from Stanford University. Through her writing, coaching, and speaking, Gigi has helped thousands of people improve their lives at home and at work. She lives in Michigan with her husband and Murphy, her cat.

Worry Less Now Cover

Get Gigi’s new book, “50 Ways to Worry Less Now: Reject Negative Thinking.” Available in audio, e-book, and paperback (5 Stars on Amazon). Click HERE

  • “This book is a winner.” Karen Casey, Bestselling Hazelden author
  • “Valuable, heartfelt manual.” — Publishers Weekly (BookLife)

LET GOD TAKE OVER OUR WORRIES!

stop our worries

“Over control is spiritually deadening. When we let God do the worrying, we find many possibilities open up,” (Touchstones by Hazelden)

Our Worries Deaden Our Spirit

“Spiritually deadening” is a great description of our worries, fears and overthinking. Lost in thoughts of the future and past, we’re numb to the beauty and love available in this very moment—the only one we actually have.

I must confess that I’ve been worrying for the past few weeks. I just couldn’t get myself to write the next blog or newsletter. So, I took a break from writing and promotion to restore my energy and enthusiasm.

Acceptance is the key to flowing with my varying levels of motivation. Instead of judging myself harshly, I consider what “good” reasons I have to be somewhat depleted. Certainly, autumn was pretty intense with getting the audio book launched and various presentations. Recognizing this gives me self-compassion and allows me to take a break.

What’s Really Bothering Me

But, I must admit, what’s really been kicking my serenity in the ass is this: my worries about my various aches and pains. Although they’re minor, they certainly do amp up my negativity and fear.

Physical pain takes me back to my past suffering with two frozen shoulders, surgery, back pain, etc. As I project into the future, I imagine it will be even worse than those experiences. Those fears cause me to try to control my pain by worrying about the problem rather than the (spiritual) solution (see blog)–thus the “spiritual deadening” I’ve been feeling.

It’s all too easy to fall into the illusion that, if I analyze the sources of pain, use ice, exercise properly, and avoid the “wrong activities,” I’ll be able to control it. But such preoccupations only keep me stuck in thoughts of suffering, And we all know this singular truth: What occupies our minds manifests in our lives. So, I knew things had to change.

Physical pain has often served my spiritual growth by getting me humble and on my knees. Eventually, I notice my mental misery and enlist a power greater than my fears to overcome them.

Solutions for Our Worries: Waking up Spirit

I can hasten my willingness to claim spiritual power by increasing my self-care: meetings, helping others, praying, meditating, journaling, reading, and talking to a spiritual advisor. It’s similar to filling up our mental “sanity bank” with wisdom and faith that dissolves our worries.

Of course breathing in spiritual strength and breathing out negativity is a great place to start. A quick “Help me to see this differently” or “All is well” can settle down our worries. The Serenity Prayer connects us to acceptance, courage and power when we’re imprisoned by doubt.

So, I’ve been following my own advice and using the tools presented in “Worry Less Now.” Who knew that I’d need to use them so often and so consistently throughout my life!?

It’s just proof that, as humans, we’re often tempted by our worries and fears. Fortunately, with experience, we learn how to return to sanity, trust, and peace of mind.

When we we awaken from the dreams we’ve been lost in, we can fully inhabit our life, savoring its present sensations. The feel of our breath filling our body. The smell of a gardenia. The beauty of a palm tree ruffled by the breeze. The taste of cilantro.

A Celebration!!

I’m so grateful to share the tools that have helped me discover my true, wise, god-self, even in the midst of life’s challenges. And, I’m grateful for something else, too!!

On Jan 11, I celebrated 34 years without a drink or drug. Many of you reading this have played a large role in my recovery. And I thank you from the bottom of my heart!

To celebrate, I’m still giving away free tokens for my audiobook of “Worry Less Now.” Just use the Contact Form here to claim it.

New Podcast!

If you haven’t listened to any of my interviews on podcasts, I think this is one of the best. Omar Pinto (SHAIR podcast) is a gifted interviewer and a wonderful guy. Listen to it here: PODCAST “Worry Less in Sobriety. “

Gigi Langer

Gigi Langer, a person in recovery, holds a Ph.D. in Psychological Studies in Education and an MA in Psychology from Stanford University. Through her writing, coaching, and speaking, Gigi has helped thousands of people improve their lives at home and at work. She lives in Michigan with her husband and Murphy, her cat.

worry less now

Get Gigi’s new book, 50 Ways to Worry Less Now: Reject Negative Thinking. available in audio, e-book, and paperback. 5 STARS! (Amazon) Click HERE

“Valuable, heartfelt manual.” — Publishers Weekly (BookLife)

“This book is a winner.” -Karen Casey, Hazelden author

FEELINGS ARE NOT FACTS!

DO YOU HAVE FEELINGS THAT JUST CARRY YOU AWAY AND COLOR YOUR WHOLE WORLD GRAY? Don’t worry! Such feelings are often created by fearful thoughts that aren’t even true.

For example, we live in the wreckage of our future (“Its going to be awful!”) or we create “unenforceable rules” (“This should (or should not happen”). Often, we try to change the past by thinking how it “could have” been better.

Such thoughts are driven by the fear-driven belief that, if we just think long and hard enough, we can protect ourselves (and our loved ones) from pain and harm.

SO, HERE’S THE TRUTH: We don’t have the means to make people and things exactly as we want them. We just aren’t that powerful.

AND, HERE’S THE GOOD NEWS: We can find peace of mind and contentment in the midst of our fearful feelings and thoughts. Why? BECAUSE WE CAN CHOOSE WHAT FILLS OUR MIND.

HOW? Meditation, walks outside, stretching, yoga, prayer, reading or watching inspiring books/movies, spiritual practices, energy work, and thought-correction can all soothe our most difficult feelings. Good healthy friends or counselors really help too.

When we get still and listen to our inner wisdom (or that of another), we receive the comfort of ACCEPTANCE (non-attachment to specific outcomes). Further, we find ways to address those problems that still bother us—IF they are still bothering us (quite often, they’ve shrunken down to nothing!).

NEXT TIME YOUR FEELINGS are having a hissy fit, stand apart from them for a moment to recognize they’re mostly a result of inaccurate and disturbing thoughts. Then, ask yourself, “What healthy actions can I take to soothe my mind and body?” And then, do that!

PLEASE SHARE YOUR FAVORITE WAYS OF SOOTHING UPSET FEELINGS IN THE COMMENTS SECTION. THANKS!!

Worry Less Now; Gigi Langer

Gigi Langer, PhD. Many years ago, I used alcohol, romance, and professional accomplishments to soothe my frayed nerves. When I quit drinking, I was left with only my fears and worries. Over time, I discovered effective tools from therapy, recovery pro­grams, scientific research, and a variety of philosophical and spiritual teachings.

My award-winning book, 50 Ways to Worry Less Now describes how I and others have defeated the faulty thinking leading to dysfunctional relationships, perfectionism, addiction, and worry about loved ones. It contains practical strategies with directions, personal stories, and other helpful suggestions. Amazon: 4.8 stars (48 reviews) (Buy Paperback, e-book, OR audiobook HERE)

Karen Casey, best-selling author of Each Day a New Beginning (Hazelden) “Even though I have been in recovery for more than 4 decades, and didn’t think another self-help book would make it to my treasured list, I was wrong. This book is a winner.”