Have you ever asked yourself, how a life without worrying look like?
As a person, we have all been worried at some point in our life and we are inherently more inclined to be conscientious about our future. Whether it is that important job interview, your first meeting or your first day of college, we have all been there. So, if you find yourself being worried every now and then, it’s perfectly normal! Although worrying over the future can cause yourself unnecessary distress, it is an inevitable part of each individual’s life.
The Nature of Worrying:
The most important part of learning to control these worries and ensure that they do not interfere with your everyday life in a way that you may worry about the smallest or the very big things. We tend to want to control or dismiss those worries and while the nature of worrying is inherently unproductive and negative, this is often not stopping the worry but allowing us to spiral and drown in the worry that creates itself fuel for a new set of worries and anxiety.
What is NOT helping worrying but you secretly keep on trying?
A few ways that many people commonly use to cope with bouts of worry may forcing oneself to suppress worries, frantically distracting oneself, thinking positively without reason or evidence, etc. These are ineffective and can only serve as short term solutions to what may be a long term problem as in this way, the worry will always resurface after a while.
How to turn worrying into CONSTRUCTIVE THINKING?
Instead, a good way to minimise worries and ensure that worrisome thoughts do not impact your life is to practice constructive thinking. This is a way of thinking that allows you to break down your worries and understand how to approach or respond to certain situations holistically. Constructive thinking can be broken down into four clear steps:
1. Compiling a list of your worries by allowing your thoughts and hypothetical worries flow onto paper in an unfiltered manner. Allow yourself to ask questions such as “What if this happened?”, “what if things went wrong?”
2. Schedule a DATE with your worries by choosing a specific time, place and length of the date to deal with this. This will ensure that you have control over your worrying thoughts and that these thoughts will not run away with you. You can even go so far, by picking a specific “worry chair” but remember to avoid any space that is designated for relaxation.
3. Up until your date, try to focus on your present by doing something that is practical, productive and something you enjoy! This will help you to practice your mindfulness and ability to stay in the present moment. While this simply sounds like a distraction, you are actually acknowledging your worries, planning and preparing yourself for the final stage instead of simply brushing it under the carpet.
4. When it is date time with your worry, set a timer for any time less than 10 minutes and ask yourself one single question: What can I do about it today?
Aside from these steps, as a person who has spent too much time worrying, I can honestly tell you that thinking in a realistic and constructive manner is the most helpful. Although it may sound difficult and “easier said than done”, by understanding the nature of your worries and figuring out what can and cannot be done in the present moment can help you to take control and come to terms with these worries.
Something I always tell myself and the friends who seek advice around me is this; if there is something you can do about the source of your worries, go do it today and you need not worry. But if there is nothing in your power that can change the situation, accept reality, focus on the present and what can be done now and you need not worry. Even the little things such as scheduling a progress work reporting meeting can help to make a difference!
If you find your thoughts spiralling out of control and worries affecting your daily life severely, please do not hesitate to contact your local psychologist and find the help you deserve.
Written by Beatrice Sung & Supervised by Dr. Julia