Why You Worry So Much
On a recent drive home from work, I had a sudden epiphany about the reasons why I worry. Thinking about all of the pending and unfinished items on my infinite to-do list, pondering over twenty imagined scenarios of what the future could be, analyzing what presently is and replaying the events of the past — it doesn’t take much for my mind to enter the chaotic state of worry. However, knowing what leads to all this chaotic thinking helps me take action to redirect my focus on more positive thoughts:
Lack of faith
Faith is the substance of things unseen. In other words, it’s what you believe will happen, even without seeing the evidence of it yet. It’s like going into a job interview knowing that the job is yours, even though it hasn’t happened yet. It’s knowing that you will recover from a difficult situation, even though you’re in the midst of it right now. What do you believe about yourself, your circumstances and life, in general? Do you have faith that things will work out? Or do you place more faith in all the negative possibilities? How and where you focus your energy and thoughts are the greatest catalysts for either worry or faith.
All on you
It’s easy to feel stressed when you have to rely on yourself for everything. Whether you call it God, the Universe, a higher power, etc., there’s a comfort in knowing that there is something bigger than yourself that you can rely on for strength, guidance, peace, wisdom, and insight. For me, my faith in God has been the most powerful influence in my belief system, especially as a source of strength, assurance, direction, and wisdom. Relying on something bigger than yourself can provide much relief from worry because you know that there’s a source that is constantly working in your favor to help you get through life’s challenges. Consistent spiritual practices such as prayer, meditation, self-introspection, journaling, etc. are great ways to counteract those feelings of worry.
Actions and Thoughts Don’t Align
Have you ever taken a test that you weren’t prepared for? Worried if your close-to-empty gas tank would carry you to that next exit? Or stressed over how you’ll fit into that dress for your best friend’s wedding? The thing is, you knew that test was coming up 4 weeks ago, but you didn’t study. You knew you should have gotten gas the night before but you just didn’t feel like it. You knew the wedding was coming up over 6 months ago…so there was time to lose that extra 5–10 pounds. When our actions don’t line up with what we know we should do, we worry. Having the knowledge, ability and time to do something — and not doing it — is a sure fire way to generate unnecessary worry and create situations that could have possibly been avoided.
Remember that time when you were strapped for cash but somehow made it through that hard time? Remember when you broke your leg or got injured during a sports match and thought that your life was over? Experienced heartbreak or loss of a job, but over time you have been able to heal and recover? Most of us have experienced some life challenges that seemed impossible to bear or overcome at the time it was happening, but as we kept living, we realized that we would be okay because life had more to offer us. Life has proven to us over and over again that we can get through hard times, but yet we seem to forget the many challenges we’ve overcome when worry takes over. Don’t forget who you are and all that you’ve already conquered. Your life’s track record has already proven that if you got through it once, you can get through it again.
It’s almost impossible not to worry at all. I’m sure even the most grounded, organized, planned, spiritual people experience feelings of worry and anxiety from time to time. The goal isn’t to deny ourselves from this very human emotion, but more so to recognize when it overstays its welcome and takes up too much real estate in our thought process. How can we work to decrease our levels of worry and stress and instead, increase our faith, peace, and enthusiasm for positive outcomes?
You’ve only got one life is one of the ultimate cliches — but if you believe that to be true, please don’t spend all of it worrying.