Why worry is your most wasted emotion - and how to stop.
“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” (Corrie Ten Boom).
What might happen if we stopped worrying for a day? Stopped worrying about our future, our finances, our families and our health? What might happen if we simply flicked worry from our minds?
Nothing would actually happen. Because worry is a wasted emotion – like jealousy and guilt – it goes nowhere and achieves nothing. It simply depletes our energy, robbing us of our peace of mind and ease with life.
If you’ve ever caught yourself in a worry cycle (where we play out our fears in our minds over and over) and wondered “Why am I doing this to myself?” the answer is simple. It’s part of being human. We all do it, and often don’t even realise we are worrying until we’re in an anxious state. Sometimes we will worry when there isn’t an actual problem, as though we are seeking problems - in preparation for them in reality.
Silly, right? A total waste.
So, let's explore why worry is a wasteful emotion – and how to stop TODAY.
So, why do we worry?
Worry is a self-protecting primal emotion. If we imagine our fears and live them in our minds we will feel more competent to cope with them – should they ever happen. We sometimes have the (slightly twisted) view that if we keep on worrying, nothing bad will actually happen. It’s a control thing. If we keep returning to our fears and worries in our minds we’re attempting to control how we’ll handle them.
But worry doesn’t add to our preparedness. It simply diverts our attention and energy from the present moment. It adds to our emotional burden and can actually heighten anxiety.
By accepting uncertainty as part of life and keeping a watch on our worry rather than getting caught up in it, you can turn it around.
How to Stop Worrying
Deep breath – we start to trust ourselves. Trust that you will cope with whatever the future holds – as it unfolds. Instead of mentally engaging in fixing things now, trust that you will know what to do and how to cope emotionally when – and if – you need to.
Replace worry with trust. And take these three steps . . .
1. Be the watcher of your worry
We sometimes don’t realise we’re worrying until we are deep inside it, feeling it and letting the anxiety take hold. Start to watch your worry, notice it and become aware of it when it’s happening. Now listen to the fearful thoughts in your mind. Watch them and release them. Having an awareness of our worry gives us space to respond to it – rather than getting swept up.
2. Accept fear and uncertainty
There is much to fear – if we really think about it. And much of the future is uncertain. Accept this uncertainty as part of living. Remember, it’s about control, and you can control what you focus on. Instead of attempting to control negative outcomes in our mind, choose not to focus on them. Divert your energy toward self-care, relaxation, visualising positive outcomes and connecting with others.
3. Live in THIS moment
We have a tendency to think forward, imagining what might be – which often includes our worries played out in our minds right in front of us. Instead, let yourself be present in this moment. Ask yourself ‘Is this real or something imagined?’ Instead of worrying about what might happen a week or a month from now, focus on today instead.
Your peace of mind will thank you.