How to Stop Worrying and Start Living
There’s one thing that gets in the way of your success. It’s something everyone struggles with to a degree including myself. It’s not that you don’t want better outcomes in your life. Who doesn’t? It’s not that you don’t have the talent or skillset to be able to pull off a specific goal.
Often, things like motivation and discipline aren’t the real culprit. There’s one overarching theme in your life that keeps you from getting what you want and it’s the seed to all of your doubts, fears, and anxieties.
What’s the theme? You care way too much. In french, you give way too much of a f***
Mark Manson wrote a best-selling book called The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F***. He’s a great writer and the title of the book is both raunchy and compelling, but the key to the book’s success is the key theme it touches on.
We’re so confined in life by the things we care about way too much. We get stuck in our limiting beliefs because we care too much about our own perception of ourselves. We think it’s real. In reality, it’s all in our head
And that’s the frustrating part, isn’t it? You know, deep down, that this is all in your head. You know that, theoretically, you could just stop caring so damn much and start living the life you were meant to live. But, when push comes to shove, in the moments where it matters, you have a tendency to freeze.
When it’s time to put together the business and launch it, you get scared because you’re worried about what other people think. When you want to do something bold and audacious, either in the moment or for the long-term, you get stuck because you’re afraid to stand out.
So, what do you do? Well, you do the same thing that I’ve been telling you to do for as long as you’ve been reading me. You do your best to analyze your situation and create some narrative in your mind that compels you to act.
Let’s take a look at some of the common things you care about too much and look at some ways to counteract those feelings.
You Care Too Much About Your Own Self-Perception
You place a judgment on every action you take. When you do something positive, something you approve of, you feel better about yourself. When you make a mistake or do something you regret, you feel worse about yourself. In both directions, you’re probably attaching too much meaning to your behaviors.
Yes, your behaviors do reveal who you are. Your actions are the best reflection of both the way you see yourself and the way you view the world. But you don’t have to assign permanent meaning to your behaviors.
Let’s say you make a mistake, a bad mistake. You shouldn’t just sweep it under the rug. You should reflect and analyze that mistake because it’s a sign that’s something was off about your life at that exact moment. But that doesn’t mean that you’re destined to make the same mistake over and over again or that the error was so grave you can never recover from it. Honestly reflecting on your own behavior doesn’t mean you have to deeply care about your behavior in a negative way. Make sense?
You have to be like the quarterback who throws an interception, shrugs it off, and throws a touchdown the next drive. But how? How do you convince yourself that you can move beyond your current self-perception that you’ve spent quite a long time building? Personally, I’ve spent years having conversations with myself about the pros and cons of whatever belief system I have at the time.
I’ll drill something like this into my head over and over — Ok, you messed up. You’ve spent quite a while messing up. But is it useful for you to keep dwelling on it? Or can you find a way to move on? Do you have to be this person forever? Do you have to care so much about every little action you take that it leaves you paralyzed or can you learn how to shrug it off?
Then, you try to take the right actions in the future without the weight of your self-perception making it ten times more difficult. Easy to say, hard to do, yes, but it’s the way.
You Care Too Much About What Other People Think
On top of placing judgment on your own actions, caring too much about those judgments, and staying stuck, you let other people’s perception of you pour gasoline on top of the fire of your negative emotions.
It’s tough. You have this deep-seated need to be loved, to be liked, to be respected, to be admired. This need drives most of your behavior. Logically, you understand that caring less about what other people think helps you get the outcomes you want.
When you care less about what others think and just live how you want you to live, people are actually drawn to you. If you want to live in a way that deviates from the traditional path, people might judge you at first. But if you ignore them and work on your project until it succeeds, again, people will eventually come around and want to be like you. The more certain you are about yourself, the less you care about the opinions of other people.
But, how do you get there? How do you build this level of confidence when you’ve spent a good chunk of your life, maybe all of your life, caring about other people’s opinions too much?
Again, it comes down to that conversation. Sometimes I’ll literally talk to myself out loud like I’m some drill Sargeant, and try to break down my own limiting beliefs. Why should I care what anyone says about my writing? I do my best and put it out there. If I launch products, who cares if not everyone wants to buy them? What’s the big deal?
That’s a good question to ask yourself. What the hell is such the big deal? Everyone is neurotic and self-obsessed to a degree. Why beat yourself up over them?
And you just do this over and over as you ascend through life. You more you put yourself out there, the less you’ll care about the opinions of other people. Six years ago, a negative comment on my article stung for hours. Now? It barely registers.
I can’t give you the magic recipe for confidence. It comes through tiny iterations through repeated practice. But the more you practice, the more you’ll realize how dumb it was for you to care about the opinions of others in the first place.
You Care Too Much About Life Itself
Rather, you take everything that happens way too seriously. I don’t know about you, but I know I spent way too much time preoccupied about things that don’t matter at all — things I won’t care about in a month, in a week, in a year.
Life is too short to be spent constantly worrying. You live in this infinite abyss in the middle of nowhere and your odds of even being alive are basically zero. Why so stressed? Why not just be free and try to do whatever the hell you want to do? I’m not just writing this for you, I’m writing it for me too.
As much as I’ve progressed in my own life, I’m still locked in many mental prisons. I used to care about not having enough money, now I care about losing the money and lifestyle I do have. Money is nothing. Pieces of paper. Necessary, but nothing to spend a life obsessing over. I have newer and higher levels I want to go in my career, my personal life, a bunch of different areas, and I remember that the key to getting where I want to go is to remove the restraints.
Try to focus on letting go of the grip of the steering wheel for a while and just letting your energy flow. Stop worrying so much and start living. Stop trying and just do things. Stop thinking so much and realize that activity is the key.
I realize these are just words. I’ll run into a situation later on today that makes me have to heed my own advice. But that’s life. It is what it is. Sometimes I imagine the most carefree version of myself. What would he do every day? How would he relate to other people, his goals, reality itself? What wouldn’t he spend time doing? What would he avoid?
Think about this person when it comes to your life. Where is ‘caring’ holding you back? What can you let go of? What can you attempt to do more freely?
Ayodeji is the author of Real Help: An Honest Guide to Self-Improvement