Worrying Won’t Change the Outcome
Life comes with a lot of responsibilities and circumstances that at times can feel overwhelming. But the truth is that no amount of worrying or anticipation is going to change the outcome of what is. In fact, engaging in habits of worry only drains us of our health and general wellbeing. So, why not begin exploring other avenues for responding to the ebbs and flows of life?
According to the Oxford English dictionary, worry “is when we give way to anxiety or unease; it’s to allow the mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles”.
Worry is the incessant chatter that has us trapped in rumination, worry stops us from taking the leap and trying something new, worry feeds our fears and insecurities, worry tells you that you’re not ready, and worry keeps our dreams at bay.
Worry is a thought and then a feeling, and as such we can train our thoughts in order to steady our feelings. This is a valuable practice because thoughts and emotions create biochemical reactions in our bodily systems–– meaning our thoughts literally have the power to cause us physiological harm.
Multiple behavioral research studies show that most people spend about 80% of their time worrying about something that happened in the past, or something pending in the future. Take a moment to let that sink in. 80% is an incomprehensible amount of energy being invested on the stories made up in the mind that may or may not even be true.
At some point or another (perhaps even today), you or someone you know is struggling with managing worrisome thoughts, and for this reason we are here to inspire a more caring way of moving through them.
Learning to Catch Our Worries
First thing to note is that many of our mental habits––including the conversations that happen in the privacy of our own mind––are learned behaviors. We saw our parents worry, our schoolmates, co-workers, and even the fictional characters on tv. It’s in this way that worry has been normalized, and indoctrinated as an inevitable part of life. Secondly, it’s useful to recognize that in the same way we learned a behavior, we can un-learn a behavior by starting to question why we’re reaching for it to begin with. It’s about catching ourselves in the act for long enough to question if worrying is actually helping, or admitting that the familiar concerned route is simply routine.
Some situations can evoke a sense of helplessness, we get that. Yet by choosing to worry we offer ourselves a false sense of productivity, virtue, and control. Meaning that when we worry the subconscious mind actually believes that it’s doing something to alleviate the situation, even though this is logically not the case at all. Worry can grow very loud in the mind when circumstances remain unknown, yet at the end of the day, no amount of mental stress is helpful in producing a desired outcome.
The bottom line is that worry will consistently leave you feeling drained, whereas inviting a sense of wonder and curiosity will energize. It’s the willingness to grow curious about your own thought patterns that has the power to change your waking reality.
Choose Wonder Over Worry
Next time you notice yourself spiraling down a worry hole, pause––albeit for a brief moment––and get curious as to whether or not there’s another way you can use your attention to navigate the situation in a more empowered way. Instead of worrying is there a way to entertain a state of wonder in order to get a broader picture of what’s possible, rather than immediately giving into the minds ideas around what’s not possible? Wonder is quite simply thedesire to be curious and know something unfamiliar or unexpected, so when we choose wonder over worry, it’s in these moments that doors open once again.
Lastly, not all thoughts and worries deserve your attention, and only you’re in charge of which ones get to receive your undivided attention. When we begin to strengthen this skill, over time it becomes much more natural to not allow anxious thoughts to take you away. It’s imperative that we begin catching ourselves in the midst of our own worrisome habits to manually course correct. Consider this a subtle mental exercise in creating steadier mental finesse moving forward.
By Melissa Aparicio, contributing author