Worrying? Stop Tugging on your Head

Sections of this topic

    “Tend to your vital heart, and all that you worry about will be solved” Rumi

    A friend of mine told me this story many years ago and I’ve thought about it various times since then.

    My friend N. got tickets to see a play with her 6 year old niece. When N picked up her niece to go to the play, her niece was very excited. She was all dressed up in a fluffy dress and had her hair done in tight braids. On the drive down to the theatre, her niece kept tugging at her braid and then yelped “Ouch!” After 3-4 times this happened my friend asked her what she was doing. Her niece said, “I love my braids and want to touch them. But when I do, it tugs on my head and hurts”. To which N replied, “Then why don’t you stop touching it?” “I just can’t stop,” her niece responded. N chalked it up to 6 year old silliness.

    I laughed when I heard that story, yet have thought about it occasionally when I tug at things that worry me. I replay an event in my mind or rehearse a scenario in my head way longer than I need to. Hanging on to worry of what did happen or what could happen prevents me from finding peace.

    How many times have you tugged on your head over something that you need to let go? You are the only one who can release the worry, yet you still keep tugging at your head. Here’s a funny Bob Newhart skit that shows that it could be as easy as just telling yourself to stop it.

    If you find yourself worrying about something that happened at work, remember- Your thoughts are under your control. [I’m not talking about OCB – that’s beyond the scope of this blog.]

    Ways to Stop Tugging on your Head – Redirecting your Awareness

    Mindfulness meditations focus your thoughts on what is happening in the moment. Bringing awareness to the moment allows you to be present in the now rather than replaying tapes of what happened yesterday. You can’t change decisions that have been made or actions that have already been taken. The event or decision is gone. Worry keeps you stuck in the past.

    To move forward with a clearer mind and greater peace, move from the past to the present. Focusing on your breath helps to shift out of your head and into your body. Breathing into your body and releasing tension benefits your body and your mind. You change where your attention goes when you breathe steadily and deeply.

    Here’s a simple breathing exercise:

    Breathe in for two counts and out for two counts

    Breathe in for four counts, hold for two counts, breathe out for four counts

    Breathe in for six counts, hold for two counts, breathe out for six counts.

    Continue adding two counts to your in-breath and out-breath until you can’t go any higher. Then reverse and breathe in and out for eight counts, next cycle six counts, next time four counts, then finish again with two counts. Your mind will be clear and your body will be relaxed.

    Some people recommend making your out-breath longer than your in-breath so you could breathe in for six counts, hold two counts, and breathe out for eight counts.

    Stay in that peaceful state knowing that you have only the breath and mindfulness in any given moment.

    If you feel you must take some action, then from this more peaceful state and clearer mind, focus on what you want to see shift or unfold. Keep coming back to your breath and the present moment to find the clarity, confidence and peaceful balance to move forward.

    Let us know what helps you let go of worry.


    For more resources, see our Library topic Spirituality in the Workplace.


    Linda is an author, speaker, coach, and consultant. Go to her website www.lindajferguson.com to read more about her work, view video clips of her talks, and find out more about her book “Path for Greatness: Spirituality at Work” available in paperback on Amazon. Her new book, “Staying Grounded in Shifting Sand” is available at her website as a pdf download.