As a Virgo, I spend roughly 95% of my life stressed, worrying and trying to create perfect situations. When things feel uncertain my mind automatically creates plans for every single possible scenario because it feels so uncomfortable to not know what the future holds. Though I absolutely love the life I have created for myself, being in a long-distance relationship and traveling all around the world as a freelance writer are very unpredictable and uncertain. I’ve spent so many days in a state of overwhelming anxiety and sadness because I just didn’t know what the next three months were going to look like and I was scared everything was going to go wrong.
I’ve known for a long time that I was a worrier but I just thought that was who I was and I just had to deal with it. And you might feel the same way. It can seem impossible to change this tendency because it’s almost like a comfort blanket—when we worry it can give us some sense of control over an uncontrollable situation. But as the New Year approached, I was figuring out what I wanted to release in 2020 that no longer served me and worry was up there. So, I started to figure out ways that I could stop being such a worrier, meaning I could spend more time in the now rather than all of the future possible scenarios in my head. And as my New Year’s gift to you, I’m here to share the techniques I’ve used to drastically reduce the amount of time I spend worrying.
Think back to your past worries
It might seem counter-intuitive that thinking about the times you’ve worried in the past is going to help you stop worrying?! But, bare with me. Whenever a worry about the future comes up and I start to freak out, I now just think okay, what are the actual chances of this happening? I think back and realize that most of the time, the things that I’ve been worrying about never actually happen. This lets my rational brain have some comfort in the knowledge that the odds of everything coming crashing down around me are pretty slim. We literally spend hours worrying about things that never happen, so next time you start worrying and spiraling, remember that it may not even happen.
Make a plan!
So if you read the last one and thought, okay, that’s all well and good but there is a pretty high chance of this happening so living in denial isn’t going to help me. While worrying might give you a sense of control over the uncontrollable, it can actually “serve as cognitive distraction from real problems as well as avoidance of distressing themes,” according to research.
For likely events, it’s more productive to have a contingency plan in case something does go wrong. If you’re worried about a possible future event and you can’t stop getting lost in the chatter of your head, get out a notepad and write down what could go wrong and what the possible solutions are. Then stop worrying about it. Now you have your plan so if it does happen you can handle it there is no need to spend any more time worrying about it now, wait until it happens (if it even does).
You’ve figured everything out in the past
How many things have gone wrong or not as planned in your life? I’m guessing a lot! They have in my life for sure. But am I okay now? Did I always figure it out and continue living? Did what happened actually turn out to a better situation even though it didn’t feel like it at the time? Chances are you have answered yes to at least one of those questions. When I start to worry about something going wrong and how it’ll be the end of the world, I remember that I have overcome so many challenges in my life. If this situation does arise, it may indeed be painful, stressful or upsetting, but eventually I’ll figure out a way to overcome and move on with my life for the better. And this corresponds to research findings that chronic worriers (or people with General Anxiety Disorder) “overestimate the magnitude and severity of threat, underestimate the extent of their coping resources, and overuse compensatory self-protective strategies such as cognitive, affective, or physical avoidance.” In other words, they not only overvalue the seriousness of the potential event, they also undervalue their own ability to deal with that event should it occur. Whatever you’re afraid of, you are likely far more capable of dealing with it than you presume.
With this knowledge that I am strong enough to get through whatever comes my way, I can stop worrying about these possible scenarios because if it does arise I know I’ve got what it takes for it not to ruin my life.
Trust in the process
This is probably the most important but most difficult tip to implement. When you find comfort in controlling everything, surrendering to trust is a huge leap. For a long time, I thought, yeah, yeah I know I have to trust in the Universe and I do, but I just want to spend hours overthinking and making sure I have controlled for everything that could happen—aka I had absolutely zero trust. It’s taken a long time for me to be able to really trust that everything is working out best-case scenario. That everything that happens is leading me to what is meant for me. It is uncomfortable and scary to trust in an unknown, but it is so liberating and 99% of your worries will evaporate once you fully embrace the idea that as long as you’re doing your best and heading in the direction that your heart is telling you, everything will work out just as it is meant to. I still struggle occasionally when things get really uncertain but I like to re-center myself by going to a quiet place and taking several deep breaths while repeating to myself that everything is working out for the best and everything in the future will work out how it is supposed to.
If you learn just one thing from this post I want it to be that when you worry about everything that could go wrong in the future, you are using so much energy on events that may not happen when you could be using that same energy to manifest the future that you do want. Align with your dreams and the Universe will help you get to where you need to be. Trust in the process.
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Photo: Dino Reichmuth on Unsplash; Photo by Med Badr Chemmaoui on Unsplash; Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash