Last night I was talking with my wife and she asked me a question. Something like, “What are we going to do if (so and so event that hasn’t occurred yet, and may never occur) doesn’t happen and they don’t want to do it?”
A perfectly legitimate question, but I responded, “I can’t think about something that may or may not happen, in a future that may or may not happen, either. But if this event takes place, I’m sure the two of us will be able to come up with a pretty reasonable and common sense way of handling it, at that time.”
This was my response because I try really hard, not to invest in worrying. Because I used to do a LOT of it, and the emotional return on that investment was always negative. Not zero, but actually negative.
But I got to a point in my life about 5-7 years ago, where I started realizing a lot of the stress in my life – like worrying about stuff that hasn’t happened yet, and most of which, never does happen… was self-imposed.
And once I realized that, I started making a concerted effort to stop all self-imposed stress. After all, it’s not like life doesn’t hand us enough shit to deal with – there’s no need to create any more stress on your own, right?
Of course not!
I started looking into the entire headspace of “worrying,” and not surprisingly, there’s a lot of information out there on it. So if you’re like me, and you’ve wasted more energy on worrying than it ever deserved, then maybe this post will help or inspire you to try and clean up your “worry game.” So sit back and relax for a bit, because some of this just might serve you.
“Worrying is like paying a debt you don’t owe.” Mark Twain
Basically, when you’re worrying about something, the first thing to realize is that you’re future-tripping. In other words, when we’re worrying, we’re afraid of something that might happen in the future. And since you can’t be in two places at the same time… being in the future isn’t a good place to be, because it means you’re not in the present.
And thinking you’re going to be able to control the future, just makes no sense.
It’s a bad investment of your time and energy, which is why “worrying” makes no sense. The problem is, how do you get rid of the fear – which, presumably… is the real source of your anxiety? Well, the truth is, for me… I’ve learned to surrender and give up control over most things. Not my responsibility for them, but thinking I have control over their outcome, beyond doing the footwork.
A while back I decided to no longer be a part of the “results committee.” Results about my career, results about my health, or my relationships, and results about pretty much anything.
The answer is simple. All I can do in life, is the footwork. My REAL ability to influence the outcome of any event, is limited to the amount of effort – or lack of effort – I’ve put into the footwork of whatever events I’m involved with. That’s all I’m responsible for and that’s all I can control – the amount and type of work and effort I put into making things happen.
How much you go to the gym and eat healthy… how much you practice your guitar… how you act on your first date with that person you’ve been anxious to meet for a while now… how much you’ve studied for your exam. THESE are the things you’re in control of, and these are your responsibilities.
Every day, I choose to do the best job I can, right here, and right now – and focus on the things I’m responsible for. Instead of spending time worrying about all the different outcomes that may or may not wind up happening, in the future.
Look, some things go your way, others don’t. And since you can’t connect the dots moving forward, you don’t get to find out why things didn’t work out, until later. Maybe they didn’t work out so you could meet your soulmate, or get the job of a lifetime, or land a massive client.
Who knows, right?
I can easily think of several things that didn’t go my way, that created life-changing opportunities for me later on down the line.
Plus, most of the stuff I ever worried about, never seemed to happen, anyway. I remember, for most of my life… thinking about what if this person says this or that, and how I would need to respond… And I’d work all this out in my head in so many versions, it was like studying for the SAT exam.
I mean, sure… if you’re preparing for a sales presentation, or a court case – you need to be ready for things like this. That’s “doing the footwork” for your career or your business, or maybe even your life. But being afraid of an outcome that hasn’t occurred yet… that might never occur… and is 100% completely out of your control… this is just NOT a good use of your time.
“A misty morning does not signify a cloudy day.”
Once I realized this, I began to focus on literally the ONLY thing that’s in my control, and that is… what I’m doing and thinking about, right NOW. Period. And that’s it.
Plus, I think, for most people… the issue really isn’t “Is worrying a good use of my time?” It’s more of “What can I do with that anxiety, instead?”
All I can tell you is what I do – and hopefully this will offer some idea prompts for you to consider for yourself. It’s taken me a long time to get to this point, but whenever I find myself worrying… I bring myself right back here to the present, and do something fun, instead.
Or, I change my environment – this is very helpful. I’ll walk away from my computer or phone… or go outside for a walk… or meditate… or get to the gym, or just sit out back in the fresh air with a cup of coffee or a glass of water. I do something to change my perspective. And you don’t need to do it for very long, to have the desired impact you’re looking for.
And this… is totally in your control and is a wise use of your energy.
And it sure beats the alternative, any day of the week.