How to Stop Worrying About Stuff You Can’t Control
Here’s a round-up of the best ways to stop worrying – plus links to helpful websites about being happier, enjoying life, and finding inner peace.
Worry destroys the moment (and your life is made up of moments!), depresses your mood, and can evolve into obsessive thinking patterns. Worrying puts you at risk for mental illness or a psychological disorder (Generalized Anxiety Disorder is characterized by excessive worrying).
“Worry fragments the mind, shatters focus, distorts perspective, and destroys inner ease. Worry is self-afflicted distress. It has no consistent practical outcome,” writes Hugh Prather in The Little Book of Letting Go. Not only does it not have a practical outcome, it can destroy the most exciting moments of you life. I wrote about that in 8 Ways to Overcome Anxiety When You’re on Stage.
When you stop worrying you free the mental and emotional energy you need to live creatively and productively. Letting go of worry frees your mind and soul. When you stop worrying, you can focus on being creative, productive, and centered.
How to Stop Worrying
When you learn how to stop worrying, you center your mind and adopt a single-minded focus. You build inner peace and a relaxed mood.
Embrace the lesson (Martha Beck)
“The word worry comes from the Old English wyrgan, meaning “to strangle.” When we fixate on something in the past, we grab our own histories by the throat, cutting off the flow of physical and emotional energy that keeps us fully alive. To start the flow again, look forward. Think how you can apply what you’ve learned. Let your divorce teach you to negotiate assertively, your horrible boss help you spot and avoid other creeps. Let the debacle at Congress send you to a 12-step meeting. Embracing the lesson always loosens the stranglehold of worry.” – from How to Stop Worrying.
For more insights from Martha Beck (one of my favorite authors), read Finding Your Way in a Wild New World: Reclaim Your True Nature to Create the Life You Want.
Focus on the 90% of stuff that’s in with your life (Dale Carnegie)
“About ninety percent of the things in our lives are right and about ten percent are wrong. If we want to be happy, all we have to do is to concentrate on the ninety percent that are right and ignore the ten percent that are wrong. If we want to be worried and bitter and have stomach ulcers, all we have to do is to concentrate on the ten percent that are wrong and ignore the ninety percent that are glorious.” – from 20 Tips on How to Stop Worrying.
For more tips from Dale Carnegie, read How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.
Remind yourself that worry destroys your power to act (Charles Darwin)
“If you and I don’t keep busy – if we sit around and brood- we will hatch out a whole flock of what Charles Darwin used to call the ‘wibber-gibbers.’ And the ‘wibber gibbers’ are not but old-fashioned gremlines that will run us hollow and destroy our power of action and our power of will.” – from 20 Tips on How to Stop Worrying.
I don’t know if reading books by Charles Darwin will help you stop worrying, but I do know that reading books by Bryon Katie will! Here’s one of her best: Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life.
Identify the possible sources of the hardship you’re currently experiencing
Here’s a spiritual way to stop worrying about anything and everything:
“Hardships may come into your life because of: life’s troubles in this fallen world, God’s discipline, training in godliness, the cost of discipleship and following Jesus, the consequences of bad or foolish decisions and actions, or God’s judgment of a nation. Humble yourself before God and ask Him to show you which of these sources is behind the hardship you’re going through right now. If you discern that you are suffering now because of sins or mistakes you’ve made in the past, keep in mind that God never allows hardships into your life simply to punish you, but only to correct and train you. Choose to repent of your sins and learn from your mistakes so you can enjoy a better life. If you discern that you are suffering for the sake of following where Jesus leads you, pray for the strength to continue to follow Him, and know that He will reward you in heaven your faithfulness.” – from How to Find Strength in Tough Times.
Are you a spiritual person, yet you’re consumed with worrisome thoughts? Read books like Surprised by God: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Religion.
Replace your worrisome thoughts with enjoyable thoughts
Substitute your worrisome thoughts for feel-good ones. Think of a toddler you recently played with, the last joke you laughed at, or a party you enjoyed. Focus on God, Allah or your connection with the universe. Sink into your favorite childhood memory or a great vacation.
Simply interrupt or replace your obsessive thinking patterns with thoughts that make you feel good.
If you can’t stop worrying about something that’s behind you, read 10 Reasons to Forgive Yourself for the Bad Things You Did.
Remember a past worry (Hugh Prather)
Practice letting go of worry by picking something you worried about in the past. Did you obsess about money when you were buying a house or car? Maybe you worried about your kid’s first day of school, your pregnancy, or your wedding.
It might be easier to pick a past worry and practice letting go instead of trying to stop worrying about something in your life right now. When you remember a past worry – especially if it was resolved successfully – you remind yourself that most things you worry about are a huge waste of time and effort.
For more ways to stop worrying from Hugh Prather, read How to Live in the World and Still Be Happy.
What were you worrying about this time last year? I bet you can’t even remember!