Many of us spend so much time worrying about the future. The majority of things we worry about never even happen! We are capable of terrorizing ourselves with the worst possible scenarios. By doing so, we exhaust ourselves by keeping our stress levels high and we become less productive in doing the actions we need to do to dissipate the worry. Worrying about the future is self-defeating. Plaguing yourself with unnecessary fear is like self-imposed punishment and serves no beneficial purpose. Our minds have us believe that we must worry. We think that if we go over and over a problem we will motivate a solution. Or, if we constantly agonize we will somehow prepare and protect ourselves for any eventuality. This isn’t true. All worrying does, is deplete you. So how do you stop? Here’s how:
Use your imagination – All this worry is created by your powerful imagination. It is so powerful it can predict catastrophic outcomes for any situation. If we can imagine awful scenarios, why not imagine wonderful ones? The world is not created to inflict suffering upon you, or to hinder your abilities with self-crippling fears. It supports you. Think back to all those times when you were terrified that something bad would happen – and then it didn’t. Start to train your mind into imagining positive outcomes. The most amazing you can imagine. You will find that rather than leaving you vulnerable to disappointment, and being caught off guard, you will begin to worry less. Outcomes truly will support the thoughts you have been thinking and life will become easier. You will stop ‘efforting’ so much. There is no need for so much effort. You are safe. The more you begin to trust in positive outcomes, the more positive outcomes you will see.
Practice mindfulness – Mindfulness has various components all of which have been researched and demonstrated to have a beneficial affect on a worried mind. Mindfulness techniques have become evermore popular in treating anxiety and depression. Practicing meditation is part of mindfulness. Even fifteen minutes a day will calm a frantic mind. During meditation practice you will begin to notice the nature of your thoughts. Thoughts are just thoughts. Strings of thoughts create stories that we tell ourselves. All of this is constructed within our minds and has no fundamental truth in the outside world. Once you have learnt to disassociate from your thoughts in this way, they will have less power. You will begin to catch the negative stories you tell yourself before they gather momentum. You will replace them with soothing thoughts. You will also be able to slow your thinking down. Mindfulness encourages you to bring yourself back into the present moment. This is the only moment that truly exists. The past has already gone and the only tool you have for keeping it alive is your imagination. You can choose to interpret your past however you like. You can choose to delete the past altogether. The future has not yet happened. Regardless, of what your worried mind wants you to believe it is a blank canvas. What will happen will happen. You will manage whatever occurs. You will manage far more effectively than your alarmist thinking will let you believe. Bringing yourself into the present moment interrupts this mind plague. You can bring yourself into the present moment at any time. Even at work you can stop what you are doing and re-adjust your focus. Take a deep breath and bring your awareness to your surroundings. Gaze out of the window. Notice all the things you see there. Focus on your body and feel the sensation of your limbs, your muscles and your breath. Feel areas of tension and let them go. Practice being in the present moment as much as possible. Whilst driving your car, become vigilant with your wandering thoughts. Focus on the task in hand. If you are cleaning your house, focus on the tasks you are doing. Absorb all the details around you as often as you can.
Act, then let it go – Do what can be done and then let it go. When you have a worry there may be some small actions you can take to create a solution. Where this is the case do these actions and then use the above techniques to dwell no more. If there is nothing that can be done, have trust in yourself that you will be okay whatever the outcome. Use positive affirmations to cement this in place. Remind yourself of the wisdom of the serenity prayer: “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference”. Commit to yourself that you won’t worry about that for an hour, or a day, or for evermore.TWITTER