Everyone worries, it’s only natural. It’s even healthy to have a certain amount of anxiety about the future. Be it growing old, losing a job, the end of a relationship, or hoping all your children grow up happy and healthy, everyone has something causing worries about the future.
Unfortunately, many people find themselves in a downward spiral of unwarranted worries. Even legitimate causes of stress and anxiety aren’t improved with worry. There are healthy ways to stop wasting precious time worrying about the future and start living in the moment!
Start With a Reality Check
The first step in eliminating unnecessary worry is to determine what’s real and what’s not. Sure, the end of the world as we know it could happen, but that worry could also be simply running around your head because of watching too many movies. It’s also possible that an accident could happen on the way to work, but again, is that a rational fear? Is it worth worrying about every day? All sorts of things can happen on any given day.
Growing old is a reality. It is going to happen if we are fortunate enough to get there. However, for some people, it is a real source of fear and angst. There are all sorts of concerns; being on a fixed income and not having enough money for food or medications, for example.
The human brain is programmed to focus on self-preservation. It has an entire body to protect, for an entire lifetime. Instilling fear and worry is the brains’ way of forcing the body to take action to take care of itself. The problem is sometimes the brain makes assumptions about perceived reality and may not be completely rational 100% of the time. The body then becomes debilitated by worry, doubt, fear, and irrational thoughts, and is too worried to move.
Take a reality check and see what happens. Think of something causing worrisome feelings about the future. Then move on to the next step.
Be Confident, Be Capable
Positivity and optimism are great skills to have. It’s time to push the fears aside and rely on skills, training, and experience. People sometimes struggle with self-confidence. There’s a fine line between exerting confidence and appearing arrogant.
Eliminate negative self-talk and replace phrases like, “This is going to be horrible” with “It will all work out” and “I can’t do this” with “I am strong enough to get through it”. Read self-help books or memorize quotes about the uselessness of worry. These books are gold in helping you overcome worrying unnecessarily.
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Give Attention to What Is Controllable
Too many times we allow things we simply cannot control to devour our time and energy. There are too many “if, then” statements in a single day to accurately predict the future. Even with the best technology and weather tracking devices out there, meteorologists still can’t dictate the path of a tornado or how far inland a hurricane will travel.
Instead of living in fear, point that energy toward the controllable. Two things each individual has control over are their thoughts and actions. Accepting the uncertainty of the future frees us from the shackles of worry, doubt, and fear.
Make a Plan, Take Action
Now that reality has been established and worry is validated, confidence is up and control has been determined, it’s time to make a plan and take action. Worrying alone isn’t preventing an undesirable outcome in the future. There must be action, and without a plan, actions are aimless and unsupported.
If the worry is about landing a new client, make a plan to deliver a stellar presentation, and bring confidence and pride in a job well done to the table. If the worry is regarding retirement, meet with a financial advisor for investment opportunities or adjust the budget to allow more savings.
Sometimes the only option to divert catastrophe or achieve personal goals is taking action where you do have control. Your thoughts and actions.
In the two examples above, the client has the ultimate decision on who to choose for their project and aging is just a part of life. There is always a choice for the worrier. Take no action and let the chips fall where they may, or make an actionable plan and act on it to enhance a more desired future.
Of course, there is always going to be some worrying about the future. It’s inevitable. However, when the unwarranted worrisome things keep creeping back up, create healthy diversions to avoid the pitfalls of worrying about the future.
Hobbies are a great pastime. They help to develop a sense of control and give personal satisfaction. Whatever the hobby, it’s best if it requires attention and concentration. Reading, journaling, and group exercise classes are good examples of hobbies that don’t leave much of the mind open for senseless worrying.
When steps are taken to diminish worry, it’s easier to recognize when a new worry begins to form. It’s not always easy to stop worrying about the future, but it is possible to minimize how much time is wasted doing so.