Here’s a quote from Winston Churchill:
“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.”
I have found it to be very true in my own life. I worry about lots of things which don’t ever happen, so when you feel worries starting to pop up ask yourself this:
How many of the things I feared would happen in my life did actually happen? If you are anything like me then the answer will be – very few if any. And the very few ones that actually happened were mostly not as painful or terrible as I had expected. I survived them because I am still here. I got through it. Worries are most often just monsters you build in your own mind. The more time I spend thinking about them, the more they feed on it and grow.
I find that asking myself this question regularly and reminding myself of how little of the worries that actually came to life makes easier and easier to stay calm and to stop a worried thought before it becomes a big snowball of negativity.
Another thing I try to do is to guess what the other person is thinking.
Trying to read someone’s mind usually doesn’t work too well at all. Instead, it can very easily lead to creating an exaggerated and even disastrous scenario in your mind. Try to choose a way that is less likely to lead to worries and misunderstandings. Can’t think of a way – try communicating and ask what you want to ask.
By doing so you’ll promote openness in your relationship and it will likely be happier as you avoid many unnecessary conflicts and negativity.
I have also found that people don’t spend as much time thinking about what I am doing, how I am getting on with my life or what I plan to do in the future. Most people think a bit like me, of what they are going to cook for tea, their plans for the weekend, buying a loaf of bread on the way home from work or, oops, I forgot to do that thing I meant to do and will try to remember to do it tomorrow. I don’t have much thinking space to micro analyse my friends and I guess they are the same to me – they take me as I am!!
If I do have particular worries, I try to nail it straight away by talking it through with a friend. If there isn’t anyone around and it can’t wait, I journal it (write it down in a book) so it is out of my head. Very often talking it over with a loved one gives it another perspective that I hadn’t seen or another angle that makes it easier to think about. Whatever it is, I have found that it usually helps.
Another thing that I do is try to be in the present moment instead of far into the future or ruminating over past conversations or events. When you spend too much time in the future then is also easy to get swept away by disaster scenarios. So focus on spending more of your time and attention in the present moment.
Two of my favorite ways to reconnect with what is happening right now:
- Slow down. Do whatever you are doing right now but do it slower. Move, talk, eat or ride your bicycle slower. By doing so you’ll become more aware of what is happening all around you right now.
- Disrupt and reconnect. If you feel you are starting to worry then disrupt that thought by shouting this to yourself in your mind: STOP! Then reconnect with the present moment by taking just one or two minutes to focus to 100% on what is going on around you. Take it all in with all your senses. Feel it, see it, smell it, hear it and sense it on your skin. Taking a few deep breaths and really feeling the air going into and out of your lungs also help.