Are you a worrier? Do you come from a long line of worriers? Did you have fear-filled, overprotective parents or grandparents?
Here’s the good news: It’s not biological. There is no “worry” gene. What it is, instead, is a learned behavior. Nurture ousting nature.
Worrying is actually a socially acceptable way of saying you live in fear of what may happen in the future. Most likely, you also lack present-moment consciousness, since you cannot be here now while constantly projecting catastrophically into the future.
It is an anxiety-provoking, ingrained thought pattern that can cause a host of stress-related physical and psychological issues.
But don’t worry: If you are a worrywart, there are some things you can do to get off the “What If?” highway.
Two of my favorite tools — which help improve your ability to keep your thoughts on the present moment — are:
1. To allot five minutes a day to worrying. If you find catastrophic thoughts creeping up at another time, remind yourself that you cannot think about these until your designated worry time. Go back to focusing on what is happening right now. (When you get to your worry time, you may not even be able to remember what it was you were worrying about earlier.)
2. Try the “Then What” exercise. Imagine the event you are concerned about actually happening, then ask yourself, “Then what?” From that point, ask “then what?” again. Keep going until you have reached the end of the questioning. Oftentimes, you will see that the fear is bigger in your mind than what could actually happen. This exercise helps create perspective. It also gives you the opportunity to see how much time you may be wasting worrying about what might happen rather than focusing on what is actually happening.
Allow yourself to step out of fear and into freedom. The only moment you are guaranteed is the one that is happening right now. When you project into the future — and a dismal one at that — you miss your life as it is happening and draw the misery-perception-turned-reality toward you since you are resonating on that energetic frequency. (Your mind is like a garden; what you nurture and put your attention on, grows. Why not choose to nurture what you desire rather than what you fear?)
I have been through many traumatic and scary experiences in my life. Worrying about them would not have changed how I handled them; it would only have robbed me of moments that I cannot get back.
Worrying and preparing are two different things, so do not confuse the two. I am not saying be unprepared, I am only suggesting that ruminating on your fear fantasy does not better prepare you for anything.
Let’s get honest and share — we’ve all been there or are struggling still, so no need to judge or hold back your feelings. Are you an excessive worrier? What triggers your worry muscle? Are you confused by the differences between being prepared and worrying? What tools have you discovered that yank you out of future-tripping and back to the here and now?