People (and I used to be of those!) often worry about the future. And I’m not talking about a little timid butterfly in the stomach but real, hardcore stress and anxiety. The “what if” question goes haywire…and there’s no end where it’ll lead us! What if we have to sell the house, what if my spouse leaves me, what if my kids ends up in misery, what if I end up in misery, what if the world explodes… etc. etc. High and low! Some of the thoughts might be justified but a lot of them aren’t! And taking control over the unjustified one’s is crucial in order to maintain some sanity! I know, it’s a lot easier said then done. In fact, depending on your overall stress level, it can be more or less impossible! But maybe a new perspective can help?
Since my stress levels often has been through the roof I’ve spend a hell of a lot of time worrying about the future. And my mind has sent me to places of worry where I find it difficult to breathe, where I get so preoccupied with worrying about the future that I completely forget about the present. It’s kind of as if you bring all the imagined events (that hasn’t occurred…) into your present moment. You don’t have to be Einstein to understand that that can be a bit to much, no matter how strong you are…
The thing is that the most common comment when you feel overwhelmed with stress is that “you need to relax”… As if you don’t already know that?!?! BUT HOW??? There’s a lot of techniques, especially mindfulness is the most common tool people will tell you to use. And it’s all great but when you’re really stressed out…just the idea of doing another activity, whether it’s mindfulness or what not just ads to the stress.
My favorite thing is to figure out new perspectives. And since changing perspectives can change your whole experience of a situation it can be very effective! So yoga, mindfulness and all that is great but if you’re experiencing a high stress level where your worries about the future is adding more stress to your mind (and body) here’s a perspective that might help…
When you feel that overwhelming sensation of stress coming at you at the speed of light and your brain is going ballistic trying to figure out how to ensure that you’ve got the future under control, this is what you need to say to yourself:
STOP! WHAT’S WHITIN MY CONTROL AND WHAT ISN’T? WHAT CAN I DO TODAY ABOUT THE THINGS I CAN CONTROL? AND I HEREBY LET GO OF EVERYTHING I CAN’T CONTROL, KNOWING THAT NOT EVEN 5% OF THE THINGS I WORRY ABOUT WILL EVER OCCURE!
(It can be helpful to organize the chaotic thoughts into the past, the present and the future, read more about this method here).
The lesson learned is that we tend to worry about things that are completely out of our control and waste so much energy on this shit! What if you spend energy where you actually can make a difference? If I would have spent half the energy, focusing on the things I can control, instead of wasting it on people, situations or “future what if’s” that I can’t control my life would have been so much easier and productive. And I’m not talking about productivity as just producing stuff. I’m talking about being able to relax when I try to relax, sleep when I need to sleep etc. Basically coping with life in a much more balanced way and let my brain rest from time to time.
When I start to worrying about stuff today I organize my worrying thoughts and feelings in two categories: likelihood of occurring and whether it’s within my control and believe me it works!!!