by Neil Fiore, PhD
Whenever our mind desperately tries to control some future event, we experience anxiety and worry. Worry creates an image of an event or problem that’s in future and then – like a faithful servant – our body tries to work on it. This plays a dirty trick on the body by building up energy that can’t be used now, causing you anxiety or “nervous energy.”
The next time you’re worrying about controlling the outcome of some event that only exists in your mind’s virtual reality,
Notice how you to tense the muscles in your forehead and jaw.
The mind’s image of potential danger in the future mobilizes your body’s fight-flight response. Your body, being more of a realist than your mind, remains in the only time there is – the present, where it’s stuck with massive amounts of hormones and energy that can’t be used now. A full-blown panic attack is in the making unless you take charge of your worrying – and time-traveling – mind and the illusion that you can control the so-called future. You know, the future doesn’t really exist – yet.
Catch yourself building-up tension and use it as a signal to quickly shift your focus back to the present.
It is only in the present moment that you can do something to avoid future danger or develop plans to cope with it. Practice using a phrase such as “What can I do now?” to get your mind into the present working on problem resolution.
Expect a surprise. Tell your worrying mind to take a break and expect a surprise.
Practice rapidly shifting from trying to know what’s going to happen in the future to being comfortable wondering what interesting solutions and surprises soon will occur to you. Tell your worrying mind “You haven’t the foggiest idea how we’ll get through this one, so it’s going to be a surprise. This is going to be interesting.”
Schedule time to do high-quality worrying.
Whenever worrying about the future begins to disrupt your concentration and enjoyment of the present, remember that you’ve scheduled 30 to 60 minutes this evening to do some quality worrying. At that time you’ll focus on developing plans for coping with possible danger, look for alternative solutions, and restore your confidence that you’re prepared to deal with whatever life presents without needing to know, grasp, or control every detail. Stamp out unproductive, low quality worrying.
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