When we worry about something obsessively our friends or family might tell us just to ‘let it go!” But how, you might ask, how do I just let it go?
Worrying often involves the future, things we think, or predict are going to happen, we get a thought in our head perhaps,
“I know I am going to do a terrible job on this presentation,” or
“I know I am most likely not going to fit in with those people.”
When in fact we are not fortune tellers, we can not see the future, and even if we have had negative experiences in the past, it doesn’t predict the outcome of the same thing occurring in the future! When we worry we tend to partake in that thought, we react to it, and try to control it. We can obsess over a thought trying to plan a course of action to avoid a situation that worries us, or somehow control or manipulate its outcome. The problem with that is we waste so much time planning and worrying and it actually doesn’t change the eventual outcome.
A while ago I had a day where I over-scheduled myself, I didn’t want to let anyone down, so I over committed myself. I spent a good week worrying how I was going to get from one event to the other, ‘what if the first event runs over?’ ‘What if the traffic is bad?’ ‘What if I arrive late to the second event and let down this person who is counting on me?’ I planned my traffic route, I informed the person that I had a prior commitment and may run late, and I spent countless wasted moments of my life predicting what would happen. The truth is, other than me choosing to make the commitment, the rest was out of my control. I couldn’t control if the first event would go late, I couldn’t manipulate the traffic or the speed limit, I couldn’t predict the person’s reaction, no matter how much I worried it didn’t change the eventual outcome! Now ask yourself whether you are guilty of this too?
So instead of engaging in our worries we need to learn to let them go. Easier said than done, unless you are blessed with one of those carefree personalities, (lucky you, I’m seriously jealous,) others, like me have to work on this “letting it go thing!”
Letting go is about releasing your worries, not reacting to them or chasing them down, so just try to recognise that they are there, be aware that you are worrying and then allow the worry to be there without trying to change it. Just quietly observe it, even write it down, or say it out loud to yourself.
The next step is letting it go, but first you need to do is make the decision to let it go. This is trickier than you think for a reason you may not have been aware of.
We sometimes look at our worries as helpful, because we think if we didn’t worry about things we wouldn’t be motivated to do our best.
If we didn’t worry what to wear to a job interview we may not get the job, or if we didn’t worry about having a clean home we would live in filth, right? NO wrong. We have to plan what to wear to an interview, but we don’t need to worry endlessly about it, and we can still keep a clean home without worrying if it’s perfect and making sure there is not one stray toy in the hallway. Worries are not your friend and they are not helpful. A normal amount of worry is fine, if we lived without any worry we would walk down dark alleys in the middle of the night, but when we obsess over every day things, or things we have no control over, like traffic, then it begins to take away our enjoyment of the present moment.
Worries are not reality, they are thoughts, they are not truths, they are made up in our minds. We cannot predict the future, things are not black and white, if something doesn’t go as planned don’t see it as ‘it’s all gone wrong”, see what good you can find in the unpredictability. My son Adam was sick a while ago and not only was I worried about him, I also felt annoyed that it meant I couldn’t go about my day as I had planned, I couldn’t do the grocery shop, I couldn’t clean the house like I wanted, but once I let go of worrying about the things I “couldn’t” do I actually had a lovely day with my son. We snuggled on the couch, read stories and watched cartoons. Although my day was not as I predicted once I readjusted my attitude I actually had a nice time cuddling my baby boy. Worrying to the point of causing ourselves sleepless nights is not helpful and it is crucial that you realise that in order to let go of worrying.
Many people like to see their worries as a cloud floating over head, pretend you are laying on the grass watching the clouds, now picture your worries as if they are in those clouds and let the breeze take them away. Others prefer to visualize leaves floating down a stream. Perhaps you might like to picture butterflies flying away. You can use these visuals or one of your own to help you imagine your worries being taken away.
When we worry it takes our mind off enjoying the present moment, or even noticing what’s going on around us.
Try and bring yourself into the present moment, feel your breath entering and exiting your lungs, go on right now take a couple of big breaths in and out, feel your feet on the ground, or your body in the chair, listen to the sounds inside or outside the room. Maybe you can smell something, or just notice the silence. It is natural for your mind to wander, to start thinking about things you need to do, or worrying, just try to bring yourself back to the present moment, and remember that you can let the worries go, remember that they are not helpful to you.
So before you leave this page, just give yourself a moment to think of something right here, right now that you are grateful for, now take a deep breath and thank yourself for taking the time to do something nice for you.
Thanks for joining me, love Mackenzie xx
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