I wish I could say that this technique will work for all worries, but it doesn’t. This technique will only help you to stop worrying about the things you cannot do anything about in the near future.
Let me start with an example from my own life, as that will most easily explain the technique. At some point, I was looking forward to visiting my partner again, who lived in India. But I was also already worried whether I would be able to make enough money with my business to let him come over to my country afterwards, and also whether I would then still have enough money to move into a house when getting back to the Netherlands.
I was reading a book from Gay Hendricks at the time who inspired me to make an extra effort to stop worrying. According to him, worrying is completely unnecessary and should always be stopped. Stopping all worrying all together sounded scary to my mind, but I found a safe way to worry a LOT less about this issue.
First I asked myself: can I take any action or decision to create the future more favourable? Well, I could try to make my business successful, but I was doing that for other reasons already so I couldn’t do more than I was already doing anyway.
Secondly, I asked myself: Do I have all the information to be sure that I even need to worry about this? And I didn’t. My boyfriend and I would see each other again for two months in India, and it would actually make sense to wait with worrying before at least until the end of those two months together. Because who knows…! Maybe we would stop liking each other during that time. Maybe we wouldn’t even want him to come over to me anymore. Also, I was just about to try out something new with my business, which could bring in more income. Implementation of that would take about two months as well.
Then I decided to not worry anymore for those next two months. And of course, I kept thinking about the issue sometimes. And whenever I would catch myself thinking about, for example, how I could maybe find cheaper furniture, I would stop myself right there and tell myself: I’m not worrying about money at least until I leave Bangalore.
It really worked like a miracle. That whole relaxed vibe of ‘I’m not worrying about money’ has stayed with me ever since. (And it’s now 6 months after I started saying that).
What happened? My income increased enough due to some unforeseen factor, and we still really want to see each other again, but he doesn’t want to give up the job he now has in Bangalore for at least another 6 months.
Yep… Am I happy that I didn’t break my head over that money issue that turned out to be a non-issue while another unforeseen issue was the actual issue…!
We often unconstructively worry about things we cannot do anything about right now, and that might never occur! And it takes away the joy of life!
So how can you worry less?
When you spot something in your life that you’re worried about a lot, stop, and ask yourself: “Can I do or decide anything in the near future that will help me regarding this issue?” And if that’s not the case, make an agreement with yourself about when you’ll allow yourself to start worrying again.
This idea of letting yourself worry again later is, by the way, just to soothe your mind. The mind wants to control and keep everything in check. Deciding not to worry every again is like saying to a guard that they can close their eyes forever: not much chance. While taking a good look at the situation and estimating for how long you can safely stop worrying, is sweet and gentle to the mind. And therefore, doable.
Safely is a key word here. Do make sure that you really don’t need to start worrying again before that date.
As soon as you really might need to make a decision or take an action, you do want to switch your mind back on.
The best is probably to apply this to just one big thing in your life. Only one thing so that it’s doable as you’ll be able to focus on not worrying about that one thing. And a big thing because then you’ll be able to see the impact it makes on your life satisfaction.
And as said, you can only apply this to something you indeed don’t need to worry about now.
Two examples: You could apply this to worrying about whether you will pass your exams, until you get your scores back, while anyway doing your best at studying for the joy of learning and getting good grades. Or you could apply this to worries of getting cancer at old age until it actually happens, while anyway trying to take the best care of your body because that’s what will make you feel good today too.
A last advice: write this down. To remind yourself and set a strong intention, write your decision down as a statement: “I’m not worrying about money until I leave Bangelore.”
A practice in worry-freeness
What will this give you?
Not only will this give you less worrying about that one issue for the timespan you agreed on with yourself, it will also bring you in general more clearness of mind because it’s a living meditation to keep your mind on track with this intention.
So if you want to apply this to other worries too, you’ll have an easier time after practising on another thing.
In addition, you might find yourself be perplexed at how often our worries indeed were completely unnecessary because life so often turns out unexpectedly different. This will help you to build trust that your worries are not that necessary.