It's a beautiful day, and there is no threat of immediate danger, but there remains a gnawing feeling of uneasiness that churns in our gut. It's a wonder why we worry, but fretful thoughts often plague us, robbing us of the moment.
Do you find it difficult to enjoy the simple pleasures of life because you are wrought with worry? Do you wish you could escape the confines of your mind in order to find peace?
It can also be helpful to recognize the difference between rational fear and irrational worry. The feeling may seem similar, but while a reasonable suspicion may protect you from a real-life threat, worrying doesn't usually amount to anything productive.
1. What Are You Worrying About?
Your stomach is in knots, and your thoughts feel scattered. Anxiety creeps into your shoulders and neck; nothing is actually wrong, but you feel as though something might go awry.
As worry starts to seep in, it casts a dark shadow over your mind. But where is this coming from; what has suddenly happened to cause you such misery?
If your mind is attempting to predict a negative outcome or your thoughts are trying to prepare you for an unsubstantiated threat, you are not embracing the moment. Instead, you have projected yourself into an unknown and fabricated future, which has been created by your mind.
Famous American writer and lecturer Dale Carnegie wrote in his book ‘How to Stop Worrying and Start Living’ that “40% of the things we worry about never happen, 30% of the things we worry about have already happened, and actually only 8% of what we worry about actually happens.” When we consider this research, it puts into perspective that almost half of our concerns are entirely without purpose.
Consider the moment in which you exist in, right now. Without transporting your thoughts outside of the present, is there anything happening right now that you actually need to worry about?
“Worry, by its very nature, means thinking about the future." You can escape the clutches of worry, simply by remaining in the present through mindful awareness.
Why concern yourself with concerns when you can absorb all of the positivity in your life that is happening right now? If you consider your current state, the chances are that you have no need to worry.
2. Worry and The Illusion of Control
Does the feeling of worrying seem to empower you? Robert L. Leahy, Ph.D., wrote a book entitled ‘The Worry Cure,’ where he explains why we tend to attach ourselves to this emotion. “You have mixed feelings about your worries… But there is a way that these worries make sense to you…You have a hard time giving up on your worries because, in a sense, your worries have been working for you.”
Excessive worrying gives us a false sense of control. By stressing over something that might happen, you are preparing to act on it, even if nothing actually happens!
Worrying allows you to believe that you are defending against actions that are, in reality, entirely out of your control. In addition to not protecting you, worrying can also harm you as it is associated with mental health issues such as General Anxiety Disorder (GAD), depression, and phobias.
In order to free yourself from worrying, you need to understand that it does not serve you in a positive way. You are not in control when you are feeling anxious or concerned about a future occurrence that has yet to happen.
As humans, our minds will always travel, and our thoughts will continue to create narratives in an attempt to protect our egos. When your subconscious clings to worry, shake it off like a bug on a branch and bring your attention back to the present moment.
3. WOW Yourself With Wonder
If you are stuck in the habit of excessive worrying, we suggest that you take advice from ‘millennial motivator’ and author Amber Rae. In her book ‘Choose Worry Over Wonder.’ Amber Rae illustrates how our fears hold us back from achieving our dreams, and she also dissects the difference between ‘useful worry’ and ‘toxic worry.’
Useful or productive worry is a concern that can be followed by a plan of action. A particular thought that begins as a worry can then be transformed into something productive.
For example, if you are worried about finishing an assignment on time, you can channel that worry into creating mini-deadlines for yourself that break down the task into manageable chunks. This way, you are not overwhelmed by an impending deadline because you will be working steadily to meet smaller timelines.
Toxic worry is a concern or a fear that cannot be controlled. Examples of this would be generalized anxiety or phobias, which can lead to catastrophic thinking.
Toxic worry is not productive because there is nothing you can actually do to ease your suffering. This type of concern can grow into obsessive thoughts and paranoia, which ultimately harms your mental health and can destroy your relationships with others.
When you choose wonder over worry, you welcome a sense of curiosity instead of fear. By observing your life through the lenses of amazement and in the absence of doubt, you will feel more motivated to pursue your passions.
If you can change your perspective, you can alter the way in which you journey through life. The cure for excessive worrying can be found through the magic of wonder.
As humans, it is in our nature to worry and some types of worry can help to motivate you into action. However, worrying becomes problematic when it consumes your thoughts, paralyzing you with fear.
If you are feeling trapped, we suggest that you learn how to stop worrying so that you can start living.
You can use the tools of self-awareness, breaking the illusion of control and tapping into your sense of wonder. Because why we worry is just as important as what we worry about.