The future is uncertain – by definition. There are almost no certainties in life – death, taxes, not much else.
We take things as being certain and, for our lifetime, there’s some things that are as close to certain as it’s likely to get. The sun will likely set tonight and rise again tomorrow morning. The timings will be within a handful of milliseconds. But other events are a lot less certain, especially if they involve nature or people.
And almost none of them are in our control. You can’t control whether you wake up tomorrow morning or not. You probably will – and if you don’t, there’s not really any point in worrying about that possibility (even if a life insurance salesman would like you to dwell on it).
So, what can you do to stop yourself worrying about all the what-ifs that you really can’t control?
For a minute or two, think about the things you’ve worried about recently.
If you’re like most people, you’ve worried about events in another town or country.
If they’re on the news, those events have already happened. They’re already in the past and (since we haven’t invented time travel yet as far as I’m aware) there’s absolutely nothing you can do to prevent them from happening because they’re occurred.
Sure, you can send some money as aid to the people involved. You can put up a post on Facebook or Twitter. But you can’t affect them.
And – most of the time – you can’t affect what’s going to happen in the future either.
You can’t stop that earthquake from happening or a war from taking place. You probably can’t stop your spouse or children or friends from having an argument although you may be able to affect how that plays out.
Running through all the different possible outcomes of something – almost all of which will never happen and quite a few of which would give a Hollywood script writer cause to pause and wonder whether they were too far-fetched to appear in a movie or TV show – doesn’t really help.
All it really does is get you more worried.
So you need to find a way to take more control over your thoughts.
Will you stop every worrying thought from entering your mind?
But you can affect how you deal with those thoughts when they manifest themselves.
You can hold on to them tight, squeezing every possible negative possibility out of them and into your mind.
Or you can set them free – let them evaporate into the air around you and harmlessly dissipate.
Which is a much better thing to do. it makes you less anxious and frees up your mind for more constructive thoughts.
Will you catch every single worry? Probably not.
But if you can tip the balance so that you catch more of them than you let through to dwell on, that’s an excellent start and one that you can build on.
Don’t try to second guess what’s likely to happen
That’s like trying to predict the winner of a game before it begins.
Bookmakers make a very nice living from people not being able to do that.
Pollsters have been having a very bad time recently trying to predict elections. Despite taking reasonable sample sizes and applying all sorts of mathematical fixes to the data to try to adjust it to allow for all the uncertainties invovled.
They spend a lot more money on that kind of research than you’re likely to do with the things that are worrying you.
And their likelihood of success isn’t actually much better than yours.
Trying to second guess what’s likely to happen is difficult.
Try it now:
Shuffle a pack of playing cards, turn over the cards one at a time but before you turn them, try to predict the suit of the card that will show up.
You’ve got a 1 in 4 chance of getting that right but luck will play a part in whether you manage that.
Or toss a coin.
Unless it’s a trick coin, there’s a 50/50 chance you’ll manage to call it right.
Would worrying about whether you’re going to get those guesses correct help you be more correct?
Or is it just a random outcome?
That logic works for all the other things you worry about as well.
Most of the time, that worst case scenario doesn’t happen. Even if you’ve spent the last few weeks or months or even years worrying about it.
Distract yourself – focus on something else
We can distract dogs easily – a random, excited, word or the possibility of there being a ball to chase or umpteen other things can distract them.
And despite what we’d like to believe about ourselves, most of us are just as easily distracted.
Find ways to distract yourself when you find yourself starting to worry about the future.
Whether that’s playing a favourite music track, watching a funny video, going out for a walk (breaking state is an excellent way to distract yourself) or anything else that works for you most of the time.
Notice I said most of the time – there’ll always be the exception that proves the rule. So if occasionally your distraction doesn’t work, fine.
But concentrate on the majority of the time when it does work.
Use the Pareto principle (80/20 rule) to reassure yourself that most of the time your worries (fortunately) don’t manifest themselves in the real world.
Be more “present”
As far as we know, we only live once. Your belief system may think differently – that’s OK – but there’s currently no proof of reincarnation so go with the idea that we’re only on this planet once.
The more often you in the present moment, the better.
That’s the only time you can influence.
You can be happy or sad.
But you can’t go back in time and change from being sad to happy in the past – that’s fixed (or at least as fixed as our memories can be)
Likewise, you can’t say for certain what you’re going to be in an hour or a day or a week’s time. You can only influence that at the precise moment it’s happening.
Be more positive generally
Having a more positive outlook rather than one that’s worrying all the time is a good place to be.
This affects everything in your body.
Worrying or being negative affects every single cell in your body – and not in a good way.
Being more positive likewise affects your entire body. And will improve your overall wellbeing in ways you can only imagine until you’ve tried it.
If you find yourself worrying too much, click this link, download and play the hypnosis track. It’s a great way to break state almost instantly and quell your worries