“Worry is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained” -Arthur Somers Roche
Have you ever been overwhelmed by worry? Sometimes it’s warranted it seems, for those big life-changing events. It often feels impossible not to worry about something that could alter your life forever. If you can learn to give up worry though, to release control, you’ll find a much more peaceful life exists.
I recently realized I had fallen back into the worry trap a bit. I worried about little things and big things, some I had control over and others none at all. Laying awake every night at 3 am to worry is what signaled me to wake up (pun intended!) and make a change. Sometimes you don’t even realize that you are worrying unnecessarily until it affects your daily living in some way, like sleep, relationships or work productivity.
When I was waking up every night at 3 am, I was worried about my daughter and how she’s adjusting in a new school and to all the life changes she’s witnessed in the past year (she’s very sensitive!), my own work/life balance, relationships, the tumors residing in my husbands neck, and on and on. When the lack of sleep caught up with me, I noticed what was happening and got to work to get back on track!
What’s your worry? Is anything keeping you up at night or consuming your thoughts? Let it go, breathe, and find out how to free your mind of unnecessary worry!
Free Your Mind:
1.) Write Your Worries Out
Jot down a list of the worries that have been consuming your thoughts. Once you have everything listed out, it’s easier to sort through and determine which are harmful vs beneficial. Yes, some worry is normal and perfectly healthy! It’s that worry that you have no control over, interferes with your life and consumes your thoughts that can be harmful.
Go through your list and mark the ones that are within your control. If it’s a worry that you can take action to solve, then it’s within your control. For those that you can do something about, it’s worth making to-do lists and writing out possible solutions.
Often just seeing the list of problems with a plan of what you need to do to make it better, eases some worry right away. If the worry is more of ruminating thoughts about things that may or may not happen, or an outcome beyond your control, these are the kind to learn to release. You can’t change what’s happened in the past, or often what will happen in the future, but you can change your thoughts and how you process and respond in the present.
2.) Release Control
For the worry you’re having that’s out of your realm of control, it’s important to learn to identify and accept those first. It’s okay to recognize that you can’t and don’t have to try to fix something. Learn to give in to uncertainty, to that infinite unknown that only faith can solve. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that it’ll all work out in the end, and if it doesn’t work out, it’s not the end. Everything will be ok, even if it’s different than what you had wanted or planned for. Stress and worry happen when we react to life happening differently than we hoped or imagined it would. Learning to process life as it happens and accept the realm of uncertainty, eases worry and stress. If you’re only focusing on what’s happening today and how you can make today better, your worry will decrease.
When my husband was first diagnosed with a large rare tumor in his neck, for example, so much worry set in initially. There was a point early on that I decided to release control and have faith in whatever the plan was for him. All I can do is control my thoughts and reactions, accept the situation as it is, instead of how I wish it were, and trust God to lead me through. Repetitive negative thinking about a problem will never help the situation, and usually just ends up making you feel worse.
Once you give yourself permission to release control for what happens, your mind begins to ease. Accept that some things are beyond you, but that your attitude can either help or hinder each situation. Life isn’t happening to you, it’s happening for you, if you can just change your view.
3.) Zoom Out
Do you ever hyper-focus on a problem to the point that it’s all you can see? It’s as if nothing else is even happening in your life, the worry becomes everything. Sometimes it’s necessary to zoom out and stop focusing on a problem so that you can see if there is room for a solution.
When you take a step back and look at the big picture, it brings clarity that you can’t see otherwise. Isn’t it always easier to see a solution to someone else’s problem? If you walk in on two friends having an argument, it usually seems ridiculous, as you can see a clear solution as an outsider looking at the whole picture from a distance. When you step outside and look at your own situation, the problem isn’t as big and scary, it’s more clear and there’s room around it to plug in ideas and solutions to help you navigate.
Make the choice now to start feeing your mind! Trying to control the outcome of everything is exhausting, give yourself permission to recognize and release control of unnecessary worry. Turn your stumbling blocks of today into stepping stones to your future. As always, feel free to email me with any questions or concerns! Cheers to a zen mind and life!