Gaining a true perspecitve on worry

Worry is a major problem in modern life but it is also one of the most useless emotions you can experience. I find that life is much better when we get a true perspective on worry, Today’s article is based on a quote that I believe to be on the simplest but most effective ways to gain a true perspective on worry. That quote is:

'If you want to test your memory, try remembering what you were worrying about one year ago today.'

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It's an excellent little exercise. I just tried it myself. And the truth is I have no idea what I was worried about this day last year. I do have some clue because my brother had passed away a month beforehand. So I'm sure if something was worrying me on this day, last year, it would have to do with his death and something that was going on around that. But the actual worry itself? No, I have no idea what it was. And yet there probably was something really taking up my time and my energy and sapping me of all my energy, preventing me from putting my best into the day.

And that's sad because all we have in any given moment is the present moment. It's the only time we can take action. The only time we can do anything to influence any form of change upon our own lives or the lives of those around us.

Each moment is a gift. It's a wonderful term if we think about it - the present moment. And if we think about it, it is a present to us. It gives us that opportunity to make the most of it, to do something positive and something powerful. And yet too often, we lose the present moment worrying about something, which for all intents and purposes may never happen. It really is sad when you think about it.

So I invite you to take a moment to think back. Can you remember what you were worried about this time last year?

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Objectively assessing your situation allows you to gain a true perspective on worry. Setting you free to live positively in the present.


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Gaining a true perspective on worry

What I like about this little exercise is it reminds us of some key things around worry:

1. Life is impermanent

Life is ever-changing with ebbs and flows, ups and downs. The following moment is never the same as the moment, which proceeded it. Every little moment things are changing.

We might wake up tomorrow and it seems the very same as today, but changes have taken place. More will have taken place the next day and the day after that, And it may take some months or even a year before we realise just how much change has been going on, but the truth is nothing ever stays the same.

Don't allow yourself to get caught up worrying about something because it will change. That doesn't mean you stay completely inactive and do nothing whatsoever, but it will change. So please don't get yourself all beaten up worrying about something that stands in your way right now. Know that time itself will help you take care of it; that the natural ebbs and flows of life will help to deal with that worry.

Don't get yourself all beaten up worrying about something that stands in your way right now. Know that time itself will help you take care of it; that the natural ebbs and flows of life will help to deal with that worry.

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2. Don't be attached to anything

A great source of pain in our lives is we get attached to something. Maybe we get attached to things being the way they are. It could be job titles, the relationships you're in, the people you're meeting daily, clubs or societies or, any aspect of your life.

You can become attached to it; but the truth is just as everything changes, that will change too. No aspect of your life will stay the same. Whether the change is slow and gradual or whether a rapid change takes place overnight. Change is coming in every area of your life.  

Also, don't get attached to any outcome. Whether it's an outcome that has happened or a potential outcome.

For example, some years back, and I have written an article about this. I was doing great work training in the local gym, a gym owned by a friend of mine, and he was helping me so much as a personal trainer.

I had lost an incredible amount of weight. I had set myself a target weight which in the end just wasn't realistic. But I had become attached to achieving this weight and I pushed myself harder and harder to try and get to this ideal weight. And in the end, what happened was my feet gave way.

I was out doing 20-mile walks, regularly putting pressure on my feet that was unnecessary. What I had not known was that I was born with high arches and they collapsed and it caused months and months of pain. I could barely walk. My two feet felt like concrete blocks that I was trying to drag around.

And the sad reality of it is I was actually in very good shape. I was down to approximately 10% body fat, which is a little bit better than average. I had never been there before. I felt good. I was looking great. I was getting attention from ladies that I had never gotten before. I can assure you of that. And perhaps haven't gotten since, but, what I found was I was so attached to the potential outcome that I ended up causing myself a great deal of pain because I was worried that I wouldn't achieve this target that I had set myself.

I'd like you to take that as an example and think about the things you were hoping to do in the future; things you were hoping to have. it's nice to have goals and targets for yourself and to aim for them.

But understand the difference between using these goals and motivating yourself, to take positive action, which is the real purpose of goals and targets. Notice the difference between that and being attached to these goals where you feel a lesser person because you haven't yet achieved them.

And that can be a great source of worry. So don't be so attached to any potential outcome, not just the outcomes you've already achieved, but outcomes you're hoping for in the future.

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3. Distance lessens the worry

It’s worth remembering that whatever you are worried about is only worth worrying about when you are close up to it. When you are so close to the worry, it seems so big. It takes up your whole mind, all your thoughts. It seems like the biggest obstacle in your life.

I'm a big fan of a Buddhist monk who is based in Australia. He's originally from the UK and he goes by the name of Ajahn Brahm. Ajahn Brahm gives a wonderful little exercise to explain how worry seems to impact you more when you are closer to it. I would invite you to try this for a moment.

Take your hand and put it right in front of your eyes. Make sure your hand is touching your face and put it right over your eyes. Now, how much can you see? The truth is all you can see is your hand. Now, move your hand farther and farther away until it gets a full arm's length away from you. How much of the surrounding environment can you now see? The truth is you can see the majority of it. The only time you can't see it is when you're looking directly at your hand as that blocks out a small amount of your vision.

The reason that exercise is so good. Is because it explains to you the role of worry. How not to be so close to worry. When you can take that worry that's getting on your mind; that is occupying every thought and sapping your energy. What you need to do is push it away to arm's length. Get a true perspective on worry. When you can get that worry to arms land, you suddenly realise it's not that big. A whole lot is going on in your life that is going well.  Those things need to be remembered.

And when you remember those things, you can see that the worry is only a small part of your life. That thing you're worried about is only a small part of your life. When you couple that with the fact that life is impermanent, It does so much more for you. You start to let it go and you start to release it.

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Simple steps for a true perspective on worry

I'd just like to give you a few steps that you can implement to help you deal with worry. A few things to remember. I must stress that these are not in any particular order and it's not that you necessarily have to do all of them, but just if you have a big worry on your mind, think about these things and see if you can find a way to implement them.

A. Remember that life is impermanent

Remember that everything changes.  If you realise that you are worried about something; that something is occupying your mind, try to remember what you were worrying about on this day, last year.

When you realise that you can't remember what you were worrying about on this day, last year, you realise that what you are worrying about today; you will not remember next year. You will realise that all worries pass and that helps to reduce the impact of the worry.

B. Get some distance

Don't let the thing you are worried about be the only thing you are thinking about.  Take a pen and paper and write down everything in every aspect of your life that is going well. That is going as planned or better than planned or near enough as planned. Break it right down. Break your life into areas such as health, finances, work, relationships, family, friends; however many areas you want, and then list the things in those areas that are going as well as you would like. As you start to do that, you realise that that worry is only a small part of your life and there is so much that is going well for you.

When you're worried about something, you tend to throw the baby out with the bathwater. All the good goes out with the unwanted. Everything is viewed as bad. You view life in a black and white way. And I've done this so much in my life. I know the pain that it causes. It's not worth doing that.

You need to get a true perspective and a way to do that and get some distance from the worry is to identify everything that's going well in your life and start focusing your mind on them. When you start doing that, the size of the worry starts to dissipate.

C. Be like Michael

There is a wonderful exercise by the former United States sprinter, Michael Johnson.

I was a big fan of Michael's and I read his book ‘Slaying The Dragon’. It's a wonderful book. If you get the opportunity to read it.

In it, he talks about how things went really bad for him at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. He was the favorite in both of his events but he got ill and he did not achieve the results he set out to achieve.

What he did in the end was, he listed everything that went wrong. Then in the second step, he divided those things into things he could control and things that were beyond his control. He took the list of things that were beyond his control and he threw them away and he focused solely on things he could control.  Four years later, he dominated the Olympics in Atlanta, smashing World Records in the process.

If you have something worrying you, especially something big, Identify the actions you can take and take them. It's good also to identify the actions you cannot take because then you're saying:

‘That's beyond my control. I can't do anything about that. I will just have to see what happens. ‘

Then focus on the things you can control and work on them. Take some action, whatever action you can.

D. Move

There's moving physically and moving mentally.  

Moving mentally is doing what I just described in the previous point, identifying the actions you can take and taking them.

That's moving mentally, moving your mind. As of course, is getting some distance by identifying everything that's going well in your life. That also moves your thinking mentally away from the idea that this worry is all there is in your life

in terms of moving physically, get up, and walk. If you can't go far or you don't have time, take yourself off into a private spot, maybe jog on the spot or do a few quick exercises. Sometimes, I just use housework to get moving.

Get your body moving. Change the dynamic of the situation. Emotion comes from motion. If you change your motion, you will help to change your emotion.

Try that.

Negative to Positive

Objectively assessing your situation allows you to gain a true perspective on worry. Setting you free to live positively in the present.


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E. Talk to a friend

They may be able to advise you and it can be a good idea if you think they have some worthwhile ideas to just brainstorm things you can do. Even if you don't come up with an exact solution, when you brainstorm ideas, realising that there are things you can do makes it easier for you to change your thinking around a subject. You see that there are possibilities. Once you know there are possibilities, you automatically start to worry less.

Sometimes just the act of talking about it to somebody else helps you to get a true perspective on worry. The worry that when inside your head seemed like a massive gorilla turns out to be only a tiny little ant and while it may be a little nuisance, it's not going to do you a whole lot of harm.

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Conclusion

These are just some things I wanted to mention to you about worry. I was looking at this quote today. I thought it's an excellent quote. It's an excellent way to get a true perspective on worry. Just to repeat it.

Remember worry is impermanent. Don't get attached to any particular outcome because a great deal of your worry comes from expecting certain outcomes. And get some distance from your worry.

Realise the true perspective in life, everything wonderful that's going on in your life. Focus on everything that you can enjoy about the current moment that is going well in every area of your life. Remember those things and the little steps I gave you the next time you're worrying. And hopefully, that will help you to feel a little bit better, a little bit more positive. Within no time, you'll be dropping the worry and you'll be back flying.