Letting Go of Worry
Shannon King, Charity Director
“When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.” – Winston Churchill
Worry is something that we all deal with in our lives. The sad truth is that most of us spend way too much of our lives worrying about the future, dwelling on the past, and constantly contemplating the “what-ifs” that never even happen. This can negatively affect our health, inner peace, and relationships. The good news is that chronic worrying is a mental habit that can be broken. You can train your mind to stay calm and look at life from a more balanced and less fearful perspective.
“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”
“Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow.”
Let’s look at some ways to let go of that constant worrying and deal with those thoughts as they creep in.
- Set Aside Time to Worry
Instead of allowing yourself to worry all day, have a set time and spend only 30 minutes pondering your challenges and how to overcome them. If you find yourself thinking about these issues outside of your time-frame you will need to force yourself to stop and think about something that brings you joy. Try to keep these encompassing thoughts contained in your time of contemplation and don’t allow them to seep out and contaminate your entire day.
- Problem Solve
Worrying and problem solving are two different things. Ask yourself if this is a problem that you can solve. To distinguish between solvable and unsolvable issues, ask yourself the following.
- Is the problem something that you are currently facing or is it a what-if?
- If the problem is an imaginary what-if, how is it likely to happen? Is your concern realistic?
- Can you do something about the problem, prepare for it, or is it out of your control?
Productive, solvable worries are ones that you can take action on right away. For example, if you are worried about your bills you can contact your creditors and work out a payment plan or see if there is any assistance available. Unproductive unsolvable worries are those with no corresponding action like “What if I my house burns down while I’m on vacation?” or “What if my kids get into a car accident?” If the problem is solvable, begin brainstorming. Start a list of as many possible solutions that you can think of.
- Let Go of Control
You will need to accept that there are some things in life that are out of your control. If you are worried about your house burning down on vacation do what you can before you leave like unplug electronics and double check the stove – accept that you have done what you can and then let it go.
- Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude
When worry is overtaking your thoughts, make a conscious switch to gratitude. Begin to think about all of the things in your life that you are grateful for. You are shifting your energy from a place of gloom to something more sunny and positive, thus opening yourself up to experience joy rather than stress.
- Love Yourself
All of that stress will wipe you out and leave you feeling drained which can in turn lead to illness. Be sure to set aside a little time for yourself to relax and reconnect with friends and family. Take a nap, a walk, or nice bath. Taking the time to love yourself allows you to focus on what is really important in your life.
- Be Present in the Now
Way too often we aren’t living in the now moment. We’re contemplating the past or the future, neither of which exist at this moment. A lot of the time we worry about things that never even come into being which robs us of our peace and joy. Practice mindfulness by staying focused on what is happening right now. Having dinner with your family? Don’t eat and think about your worries. Take time to look at those precious faces at your table and talk with them, laugh with them, allow yourself to enjoy this moment right now. Regardless of what is going on in your life, you deserve to be happy.
The mind is a powerful thing, but don’t forget that you are in control of your thoughts. Like breaking any bad habit, this will take consistence and patience with yourself during this process. Clearing your mind of constant worry and anxiety will leave you with a clear mind to productively work through any challenges that you face in your life.