I often speak with my clients on how worry is a wasted emotion. What I mean is that it serves no positive purpose in our lives. People often think worrying about something, prepares them for what's to come, but that couldn't be further from the truth in most instances. When faced with a problem, I've yet to hear anyone ever say that they felt more prepared to deal with their issue because they spent so much time worrying about it.
When we have something pressing on our minds, the tendency for most, is to go over possible scenarios in our heads, on how things may play out. What most people fail to realize though, is that things rarely go the way they expect them to go. Worrying takes us out of the present moment, and has us living in our heads, rather than in reality. The future is completely uncertain, and dwelling in this moment, on something that may or may not happen tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year, does nothing but cause us pain.
Think about it...if today you are spending time feeling scared, stressed, anxious, or worried about what is going to happen tomorrow, you are wasting today. Today, you could be enjoying your time, but instead, you are choosing to feel unhappy. I say 'choosing' because it is a choice. Most people don't realize this because they get so caught up in the drama in their heads.
So, how exactly can we put an end to worry?? The next time you find yourself worrying, the following steps can help alleviate your suffering and eventually put an end to it.
1. Catch yourself worrying. When you notice you are feeling stressed or unsettled about something that either happened in the past, or may or may not happen in the future, stop for a moment, take a deep breath, and just acknowledge that you are worrying.
2. Ask yourself if there are any actions you can take in this moment to prevent whatever it is you are worrying about. If there is something you can do, do it. If not, try the next steps.
3. Remind yourself that worry only exists in your head. I regularly speak with people about how we can't necessarily control our thoughts, but we don't have to believe them. That is actually all that worry is...thoughts. Worry is just a story that exists only in one's head. There is nothing tangible or real about it, despite the fact that it feels really real in the moment. You don't have to believe your thoughts.
4. Ask yourself if your worry is true. Just as you could tell someone who is making up a story that it's not true, you can find evidence that your worry is not true. If you ask yourself if your worry is true, your first answer would probably be yes, but it only is 100% true if everyone on this planet would agree with you.
5. Ask yourself if it is possible that the thing you are worrying about might NOT happen. Also, you can think about whether or not the opposite of your worry could be possible (i.e. if you are afraid you may lose your job, is it possible you might not lose your job?).
6. Find evidence to prove your thought/concern is not true. Try and come up with at least three reasons why the things you are worrying about might not be true.
7. Focus on what's good in this moment, and deal with the future in the future. Simply being aware that you are wasting the present with your fears of the future is enough to quiet the worry. It may not go away completely, but focusing on the good stuff in your life today is a step in the right direction.
8. Come up with a mantra/thought that makes you feel better than the thing you are worrying about. It will not only feel better, but it will eventually overpower the worry. When I was pregnant a few years ago, and I found myself worrying about everything that could possibly go wrong, I started telling myself, “I am pregnant, everything is perfect, and my body knows what to do.” This thought felt soooo much better than all of the original icky thoughts I was having, and it helped alleviate my worry tremendously!
We cannot control how other people will behave when we see them, whether or not you will find love, or land your dream job. We can control how we feel in the present moment though. Take action when you can, and realize that worrying, obsessing or stressing about what may or may not happen tomorrow, will not change the outcome. The only thing it guarantees is ruining your day today. It is up to you to decide how you want to feel!