“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” Leo Buscaglia
“Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow.” Swedish Proverb
It starts with a nagging thought.
That creates another few thoughts.
And before you know it there is a storm brewing in your mind, making you think irrationally and zapping your mental and physical energy.
Your old friend is back, creating chaos within.
I am no stranger to it either and to the powerful negative effects it can have on life and the happiness in it.
But in the last decade I have found several habits that have helped me to greatly decrease my worrying and to more easily handle such thoughts when they pop up.
1. Most of things you worry about have never happened.
I love this quote by Winston Churchill:
“When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.”
I have found it to be very true in my own life.
So when you feel worries starting to pop up ask yourself this:
How many of the things I feared would happen in my life did actually happen?
If you are anything like me then the answer will be: very few. And the very few ones that actually happened were mostly not as painful or terrible as I had expected.
Worries are most often just monsters you build in your own mind.
I find that asking myself this question regularly and reminding myself of how little of the worries that actually came to life makes easier and easier to stay calm and to stop a worried thought before it becomes a big snowball of negativity.
2. Avoid getting lost in vague fears.
When fears feel vague in your mind, when you lack clarity then it is very easy to get lost in exaggerated worries and disaster scenarios.
So find clarity in a worry-inducing situation by asking yourself:
Honestly and realistically, what is the worst that could happen?
When I have answered that question then I follow it up with spending a bit of time on figuring out what I can do about it if that pretty unlikely thing happens.
In my experience, the worst that could realistically happens is usually not as scary as what my mind could make up when it is running wild with vague fears.
Spending a few minutes on finding clarity in this way can save you whole lot of time, energy and suffering.