WORRYING TOO MUCH?
Are you a worrier? Do you find yourself incessantly lost in thought, trying to predict the outcomes of future events? Do you tend to ruminate on all of the worst possible outcomes, rather than focus on what might go right? Do you lose sleep at night not only thinking about everything that might go wrong tomorrow, but everything that might go wrong for the rest of your life? Do you have anxiety that you have too much anxiety????
Well, one thing’s for sure… you’re not alone!
As I mentioned in a previous blog post on mindfulness, the earlier part of my life was pretty much dominated by excessive worry. Today, however, I rarely find myself overrun by anxiety.
I’m going to share with you one of the most important lessons I’ve ever learned about worry. But, first check out this handy flow chart.
Couldn’t be simpler, right? (That's sarcasm)
So, let’s break down the chart real quick.
Do you actually have anything worth worrying about? No. Then what the heck are ya worrying about?! Okay, so realistically none of us actually have zero stressors in life.
So then, is there something you can do about the thing that is taking up valuable space in your brain? If so, take action! I find that I often have the ability to do something about the things that are causing worry, but that I put them off. Unfortunately, when we push those things to the side they just sit in the back of our minds until we act. So act! There may be all sorts of reasons why you’re not addressing whatever is causing the stress (fear in some form or another is usually involved), but the longer you wait to take action, the longer you’ll have to deal with the unwanted thoughts.
Sometimes you can take action on one aspect of a problem, but due to various factors you simply can’t do anything else at the given time. Looking back at the flow chart: Can you do anything about it? No. Then why worry?
I imagine right now people are like, “Dude, seriously!?” I know, I know. It’s not that easy. This is where the real work comes in. When you have a problem, and there is literally nothing you can do about it at the time, all the worrying in the world is not going to make that problem go away. We tend to trick ourselves into thinking that we are problem solving, or preparing for what may come, but in reality there is no way to fully predict what you may encounter with any given problem. AND, the majority of the time we are predicting catastrophic events that never actually come true. I bet if you were able to go back and watch a tape of all of the doomsday thoughts you had about the last really anxiety provoking thing in your life, and then you were able to compare it to the actual events, you’d be blown away by the contrast. For the most part, you and I and everyone else reading this have made it through all of the events in our lives that we have been the most worried about. I realize that there have been traumatic events, and events where worst-case scenarios actually went down. But, your resilient ass is still on this planet navigating life. Am I right?
I’m not trying to downplay hardships people have faced. Seriously, I have heard stories of unimaginable pain. But the one thing I have come to realize is that we are resilient as hell, and fully capable of handling all that life throws at us. Yet, again and again, even after all we have been through up until now, we convince ourselves that we will be incapable of handling whatever comes next.
Coming to this understanding has been one of the most life changing lessons for me in regards to worry. Somehow we have figured out everything that has come before, and you can be damn sure you’ll figure out whatever comes next. The trick is coming to a place where you believe this at the core of your being. When you don’t know what life is going to throw at you next, but you wholeheartedly believe that you are CAPABLE ofhandling it, there is no more reason to worry. When you truly understand that you are capable of handling anything, you can simply deal with life’s stressors in the moment rather than wasting days and weeks of your life preparing for your demise.
So next time something is stressing you out, and there is nothing else you can do about the problem until it’s staring you in the face, try repeating this little mantra: I AM CAPABLE, I AM CAPABLE, I AM CAPABLE.
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