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  • Dora Nudelman

Changing Our Thinking From Worry to Peace

If you are human like the rest of us I am sure you can admit to succumbing to worry at some point in your life. And whether it's a large worry or a relatively small one, still, we must all acknowledge that worry is indeed part of the human psyche.

I used to be a chronic worrier myself, focused on my fears and hypothetical concerns more than what was actually true for me in the present moment, so I do understand the predisposition many have to worry. However, over the years I have come to a particularly profound realization: worry is just a hypothetical state, one in which nothing is concrete or actually true. In the worry state the reason for the worry is not actually a fact but rather a figment of a person's imagination. So while a worry might seem very real to you as you are worrying about it, it is in fact only a thought you are thinking.

So, if a worry is a hypothetical thought that has not actually materialized (or else we wouldn't call it a worry but rather a fact), then wouldn't logic prevail to cause us to choose any other thought, perhaps one that actually makes us feel better? If thinking negatively or positively is a hypothetical state of mind, then what's the difference if we think about positive "what if's?" versus the negative ones? Neither is a reality yet, and may or may not become one, so if it can go either way, why not focus on the way you actually want it to go?

Now some might choose the negative thought patterns of worry and fear simply because they are wary of being disappointed. They think that if they prepare for the worst-case scenario that somehow they will feel better. But if the worst does manifest does worrying about it beforehand actually make the reality of it any better? I highly doubt it. Worriers are concerned that if they think of the positive outcome, and it doesn't materialize, that ultimately they will be let down. But if you worry and shit happens anyway won't you be let down nonetheless?

So, if you're let down either way, why not opt for optimism? Think about it, what if the positive outcome does manifest? Wouldn't that be your ideal? If you had a choice, wouldn't you prefer the positive outcome over the negative one? And if thinking positively can potentially get you closer to that positive outcome (or at least not closer to the negative one) then wouldn't that be the more practical approach to take?

Perhaps instead of worrying about something, you can just take it one step at a time and deal with what comes as it comes. If something is unknown and not real in the moment, why do we think that worrying about it will somehow make it better? Do we actually believe that worrying about it will somehow bring about good results? If you really think about it, worrying is extremely counter-productive and a huge waste of time. Imagine all the mental energy we use to worry about something. Think about how distracted we are and unproductive. It's crazy to think that a hypothetical thought that is not actually real or absolutely true in the moment could have so much power over our lives.

If you break it down, worry is simply the fear of the unknown and a mistrust of how things might work out. It is also a lack of faith that we have in ourselves to be able to handle what comes before us. So perhaps the solution to worry is working on our level of faith as well as self-confidence in how strong and capable we actually are.

One of the methods I've created for myself to help me overcome my predisposition to worry is to give myself a worry vacation. How this works is, when I feel myself starting to worry about some hypothetical outcome in the future I tell myself that I am going to put it out of my mind and on hold for a certain amount of time. It might be for a day or two, perhaps a week, and sometimes even a month or so, but within this time frame I do not allow myself to engage in worry. Then, I simply hand over my worries and all my hypothetical thoughts about the future to time. Meaning, I give my situation time to heal, time to resolve itself, time to inspire me to take the right action, etc. Instead of worrying about it and creating stress and anxiety for myself, theoretically out of nothing, I give myself this worry vacation and vow to reassess my situation at a later date. I tell myself that I can always resume my worrying if I want to later but for now I am willing to release the worry and see what comes of it. And wouldn't you know it, time and time again this process has worked like a charm for me. Everything gets resolved in one way or another and I don't have to waste my time and energy worrying about it.

So, even if as a perpetual worrier you can't bring yourself to think of the best-case scenario, perhaps taking a worry vacation where you are neutral in your expectations is the next best way to go. After all, if the thing you are worrying about isn't actually real, then why waste time worrying about it in the first place? Of course this all takes practice, but once you get it down it will become a more peaceful way of living for sure.

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