One of the primary differences between humans and animals is in the different ways in which they imagine.
Animals, despite the opinions of some scientists (who would also deny animals souls) do have imagination. Learning is impossible without the gift of imagination, and all animals learn. A cat who has learned that humans are friendly imagines a pleasurable experience when a car pulls into the driveway. In contrast, a cat who has learned that humans inflict pain may hide when it hears one coming.
Animal imagination, however, is limited in terms of time. A cat, lying peacefully in the sun, doesn't imagine the terrors of being put in a carrier, then in a car, and ending up in the vet's office to suffer various indignities and possible pain, unless it has the direct stimulus of being put into the carrier. Even if it senses its human's anxiety, it won't necessarily associate it with vet traumas (although there are certainly cats who do).
Animals also don't anticipate terrors they haven't experienced, and they don't seem to anticipate death.
Humans, however, have a far more expansive range of imagination. They can vividly imagine disasters that never happened to them and which have about a million in one chance of occurring. Such imaginary disasters need not be imminent; people can worry quite vividly about events which might happen some time in the very distant future.
With our fearful focus on the future, we have lost or lessened our natural ability to be centered in the here and now. We've also blurred the distinction between alertness and anxiety. The cat lying in the sun or the deer grazing in my backyard, though focused on what they're doing, are still aware with a clarity undistorted by fear of what's going on around them. They are not worried about what isn't there.
As a former world champion in the area of worry, I speak with expertise on the subject. I've worried about my worrying. I've become disgusted with myself. I've sworn off worrying as the worst kind of addiction.
Naturally, none of these actions ever ended my worrying. In fact, the attention and emotional energy I devoted to resisting worrying still made it the focus of my attention and energy, and it responsively grew.
So I used a different approach. I decided to observe my worry to see what possible purpose it might be serving.
One night I was entertaining a number of worries. The worrying orgy well underway, I reminded myself to slip into the role of observer. I noticed that the more I kept imagining a particular worry, the less impact it seemed to have on me. It was like something hard and sharp softening and dulling with repeated use or like a muscle becoming accustomed to a particular kind of exercise.
The exercise analogy captured my attention, as at the time I had added some new forms of exercise, including weight training, to my daily program. At first, I'd hated the new demands these exercises had made on my body. I never thought I'd be able to lift those weights. I'd counted the minutes and seconds until I could get off the treadmill.
As I continued my exercise regime, though, I found that it got easier. The weights that initially seemed to weigh a ton each got lighter as my arm muscles developed strength, and it got easier to walk a mile or more on the treadmill.
Actions which at first seem like self-torture can, with repetition, become bearable. Worrying about the future follows the same principle, and it SEEMS to work just as well. In imagining disaster I was flexing my psychic and emotional muscles in the belief that if I could accustom myself to it, it wouldn't come to me as a shock. It would just be something I'd grown used to.
The difference is that exercise is good for both body and spirit. Worry is good for neither, and learning to reduce the pain associated with it only dulls one's ability to feel its negative impact and be aware of the extent to which it's blocking our ability to take in positive energy.
The more accustomed we become to worry or any negative emotion, the more they seem like the normal way to feel. The more we increase our capacity for worry, the more we decrease our capacity for joy and other positive emotions.
All emotions are basically energetic vibrations, messages to the universe that attract similar energy. This is the principle behind affirmations. When we form a beliefãa persistent pattern of thoughts and emotionsãunchallenged by counter beliefs, that something we desire will come to us, it usually will.
However, the same thing happens when we focus our attention on something we don't want something. The universe doesn't understand "don't want;" it sends energy to the vibrational content of our thoughts, whether they are positive or negative. Thus, when we prepare ourselves for disaster by worrying about it, it is likely to come to us, and the only good thing about that is that we're prepared.
The good news is that the same creative, imaginative power that we currently employ to create worries can be used just as effectively and by using the same principles, to create what we really do want. Again, the exercise analogy can be useful. If you're trained, as I was, to automatically flex the worry muscles, you'll need to retrain yourself.
Your first steps may seem like small ones. When I find myself sinking into automatic negativity, I use a number of methods to reverse the drift. I may say to myself, "But that doesn't have to happen." I might say, "All my life that didn't happen, and it won't now if I don't focus on it." I will do my best to focus on the present, in which no disaster is occurring.
I've also discovered that distracting myself (which can be another way of returning to the present) effectively counteracts sinking into negativity. Here are some tested distraction methods:
Above all, be patient with yourself. To whatever degree you're a worrier, you didn't get to where you didn't want to be overnight. You also didn't get there on purpose. The deliberate focusing of your imagination on positive subjects will get you much more quickly to where you want toãand willãbe.
Although fear is often more intense than worrying, you will find that charoite, the crystal for fears (whether known or unknown) will help you to let go of your worries, too.
The more we love ourselves, the less willing we are to let negative emotions tamper with our happiness. Rose quartz, the crystal for self-love, helps us to stay on target.
Amber and Herkimer diamonds are very cheering crystals.
Rhodochrosite is high recommended for relieving the anxiety that may accompany worries.
When worries are on the rampage, reach for Rescue Remedy. You can take it as often as every twenty minutes, 4 drops in eight ounces of water.
White Chestnut is the classic remedy for worry that takes the form of repetitive thoughts, going over the same subject again and again. This is how worry muscles get developed, and White Chestnut helps to deflate them.
Otter, Dolphin, Hummingbird, as mentioned above, are the three animals I most often associate with happiness, and
taking a few drops of one of the essences related to them has always lifted my spirits. If you associate another animal
with happiness, play with that one instead.