“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its troubles. It empties today of it’s strength.” ~Corrie Ten Boom
We all worry
We all worry. What if you lost everything–your house, car and your job? What if your child is born with a birth defect or severe illness? What if your spouse leaves you for someone hotter, more intelligent and wealthier? What if you lose a limb in a horrible accident? What if you are the victim of a violent crime or terrorist attack? What if Trump serves another term? What if your mom dies? What if…
The words “what” and “if,” when combined, form one of the most powerful and debilitating forces in the world: worry. “What if” is the foundation, the glue and the very fiber that constructs our worst fears. Worry affects us all. No one, regardless of age, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status or religious affiliation is exempt from worry.
When working to overcome pervasively worrisome thoughts, you must first realize that your fears are valid and could possibly materialize no matter how far-fetched they may be. The antidote to worrying is embracing the fact that where ever you are–including your past, present or in the future–is exactly where you should be. It is a deep-rooted knowledge that each situation you face, regardless how good or bad, is exactly what you need.
Changing habits takes time and effort. Worrying is a habit. Merely trying not to think about fears isn’t going to cut it. You must recognize the worrisome thoughts as they happen and actively work to shift your perspective and embrace your current position and plight.
Here are a few practical and fundamental things you can do that will not only transform your thinking but make you a more positive and productive person:
1. Focus on the Present
A big part of worry is that it involves a supposition about the future. What could happen. Will you get that promotion? Will you ever find love and have kids? Will you be financially prepared to retire or will you have to work until your 95th birthday? When you find yourself mulling over things on the horizon and wondering if you are making the progress you should be making in order to reach your long-term goals, pause and remember that where you are right now is exactly where you should be. Your future depends on understanding, living in and making the most of this present moment. The present shapes the future.
2. Embrace your circumstances
Life, the universe, God, fate (or whatever you chose to believe in) has a funny way of shielding us from what we don’t need while simultaneously preparing us for where we are going. Roadblocks in life are not only necessary but vital for maximizing progress.
Consider Tracy’s story. On this particular morning, her alarm clock malfunctions getting her off to a very late and harried start. As she is preparing to run out the door she spills coffee down the front of her white Oxford blouse. She has to change, which of course, makes her even later. As she speeds off to work, she runs into massive traffic delays due to a horrible car accident. She arrives at work an hour and a half late. Unbeknownst to Tracy, had her alarm woken her on time and had she followed her normal routine, she would have been the one in that devastating car crash.
3. Develop an attitude of gratitude
Learning to take a step back and assess your current situation life from a posture of gratefulness is one of the quickest ways to mitigate worrisome thoughts. Intentionally shifting your focus from negativity and moving out of the land of “what if,” will not only chase away worry, it will also change your entire outlook and approach to life. Everything from your countenance and attitude to your level of ambition and greed will change. Gratitude will transport you from the state of being the perpetual victim to seeing yourself as a victor. And when you think like a winner, you become one.
If you can learn to tilt your perspective and appreciate where you are right now, your worries will fade.
Those who are happiest with themselves and are able to maintain a healthy outlook on life know the secret. They have learned to replace anxiety and fear with faith. They have learned to trust the process. They submit to and embrace everything life throws at them. There is a tremendous amount of comfort in knowing you are exactly where you are supposed to be.