Stop Worrying About Things That May or May Not Happen
It’s human nature to worry.
What’s on your mind right now? Chances are you’re worrying about something. Am I right? Sure I am.
I know because I’m worrying about something right now, too. It’s inevitable; unavoidable.
So rejoice in a sense. Your worries are simply an inward human reaction to the outside world.
But I’m sure those words don’t alleviate your incessant anxiety. It doesn’t stop the agonizing buzzing in the back of your head.
However, if you knew, beyond all doubt, that you were going to worry no matter what, would you keep falling down these negative thought loops?
Maybe, and maybe not. But you might as well try, because it’s true: Your worries will never go away.
The things you worry about on a day to day basis may change, sure, but the feeling of anxiety will never leave. As soon as you resolve one issue, a new one will rise to take its place.
So, rather than telling yourself that all your anxiety will dissipate as soon as you overcome the thing you’re worrying about, understand that worry is something you have to live with and work to become content with you current situation.
Worry is an Antiquated Survival Trait
Worry and anxiety were positive survival traits back in the day. Think about it.
When we were a foraging species, with natural predators who could kill us at a moments notice, it paid to be cautious. It was a benefit to be on constant edge.
In fact, those who had the trait of anxiety survived, while the rest perished. They passed their genes on through our gene pool, causing their children and their children’s children to be anxious, too.
But, fast forward a few hundred thousand years, and there’s nothing really to worry about anymore.
Sure, we fret about our income, bills, and those nasty emails we get from our bosses, but in reality, what do we have to fear?
No, if you live in a developed country (consider yourself lucky), very few things are a life and death situation.
If we lose our job, we can freelance until we get another one. When our bills get too high, we can cut the fat, sell our cars, and start from square one. If our boss sends us flaming emails, we can quit, or tell him off so we get intentionally fired (wouldn’t that feel good?).
Doesn’t seem like any of these situations results in loss of life.
But, of course, we have the worry gene, and our mind grabs hold of anything that might cause anxiety. And in the 21st century, the things that cause us stress aren’t very stressful at all.
However, the fact remains that we’ve been bred to have anxiety, and it isn’t going away.
So the next time you’re worrying about something, try to put it in perspective. In the grand scheme of life, does it really matter?
What Things May Come
Ok, so we’ve established that your anxiety and worry will be with you forever. Learn to accept it. Make an intentional effort to be happy and satisfied with your current life-situation.
And then realize that the things you’re worried about might not even happen, anyway.
What’s on your mind? What’s causing you anxiety? Chances are it’s some future event.
And of course, with anything in the future, it may or may not happen.
When you think about it, a lot of the things that stress you out never actually come to pass.
Take it from me. Working as a content marketing consultant, I invoice my clients at the end of each month. This causes a drag on liquidity as I wait for people to pay me.
And since I run a cash flow business, my client payments are my livelihood, and I use it to pay my bills and save for the future.
Sometimes, my clients take a long time to pay me, especially those who are one-offs. It’s stressful, let me tell you. As soon as I send an invoice I worry about whether I’ll be paid or not. You hope that people are inherently good, but sometimes you wonder.
However, I’ve never had a client not pay me. It might take a while, but I’m always compensated for my work. But, knowing this, I still stress every month. It’s pretty tiring.
So I stress, and then I get paid, and then the cycle repeats itself. And even when I’m worrying about a lack of payment, I’m also telling myself I’m dumb, because there’s nothing from my past that should lead me to believe I’ll be stiffed on an invoice. Yet still I worry.
In essence, I’m worrying about a future that may never come to pass. It might one day, but until that day, I shouldn’t stress.
Easier said than done, am I right?
The point, however, is this: Try not to worry about things that may or may not happen. Focus on the specific things you can affect, and forget about the rest. You’re worrying about stuff that’s completely out of your control, because if it was in your control, you wouldn’t worry about it.
And then if it does come to pass, deal with it then. At least you saved yourself days and weeks of unnecessary anxiety.
The key is control. We worry and stress about things that we have no control over. Think about it. You know it’s true.
Instead, focus on the things you can control and don’t fret about the rest.
However, there’s a trick I found that gives yourself a semblance of control over the uncontrollable aspects of your life.
For me, I write down my concerns. I get them out of my head. It’s almost as if your mind tries to hold onto the things that cause you anxiety so it doesn’t forget. Probably a part of our evolutionary trait.
But, if you write down the things that are causing you stress, you uncover the root cause(s). You clear your mind.
And then, if you really want to remember why you’re worrying, just take a look at the page.
Originally published at www.evantarver.com on November 21, 2016.