You spend a lot of time worrying about what the future holds. Before events, you anticipate challenges you might meet and run through how difficult managing them may be. Thinking how you’ll react increases stress. Your heart races, and you suffer from other stress-related symptoms although nothing’s transpired. Here’s how you can learn to stop worrying and be happier.
Recognize the downside of worrying
The stress of going over potential difficulties can cause headaches, digestive upsets, and aches and pains. Your ability to deal with common bugs like colds and coughs plummets as your resistance lowers, and you become less effective at dealing with everyday challenges.
When your bus is a few minutes late, for example, the pot boils over on the stove, or the neighbor’s children are noisy as they play, you snap because your tolerance level is low. Worrying makes you sick and unhappy, and it can also ruin your relationships.
Identify the need behind the worry
Have you ever wondered why you worry? No doubt, you imagine the answer’s clear; some events are just stressful. However, look closely and you’ll discover there’s a need hiding behind each worry and you’re scared it may not be met. Rather than identify this need, though, you’re likely to attribute your concerns to external sources, like an event.
The idea needs are behind difficult emotions stems from non-violent communication founder Marshall Rosenberg. He recognized people often communicate and think in negative ways because they don’t uncover and express what they require for their safety and happiness.
Imagine you are going to talk in public, for instance. You might assume everyone fears public speaking and your nerves are normal. Indeed, speaking to a crowd scares some people, but their fear hides the need to be accepted and deemed good enough. They aren’t terrified of public speaking. They fear rejection and want people to like them. In this situation, it would help to recognize talking isn’t the cause of angst.
Consider how to fulfill the need
Once you’ve identified the need behind your concern about an upcoming event, think about how to fulfill it. In the example mentioned, building your self-esteem would make you less fearful. Or, you could focus on the topic of the talk rather than how people might receive you. Shifting your attention would lessen apprehension.
Another example is if you worry your spouse is busy leaving a mess at home while you’re at the office. You may be angry and think their behavior causes you anxiety. If you recognize the need behind your worry, which is to rest when you arrive home from work in a tidy environment, you can explain what you want and find a solution rather than build anger.
You can’t take a time machine into the future and control events. Nor can you second-guess every event that may happen so you can prepare. You can, however, get into the habit of looking at concerns as windows into your psyche that reveal hidden needs. When you uncover them, you’ll be a step closer to fulfilling them and worrying less.