“What if I get fired?” “What if he breaks up with me?” “What if I end up alone forever?” “What if I fail?”
The list of worry’s could go on and on. Thinking about the worst case scenario and what could go wrong, is quite common. In fact, if we aren’t careful it can seem like the rational or responsible thing to do. It has become a bad habit and it often stops us from taking action and fully enjoying our lives. Worrying doesn’t help anything. It’s a mere energy waster.
Even if we achieve things we want, we worry if it will be taken away from us or change. Here’s the confusing part about life. We can achieve things but it doesn’t necessarily have a corresponding impact on our ability to enjoy life.
Why is this? Because happiness and suffering are states of minds, therefore they cannot be found in things.
Exaggerating and obsessing about future events is a bad habit. While neuroscience says we can’t change an old habit, we can interrupt negative thought patterns by replacing them with new habits. We do this by conditioning are mind in positive ways.
Here are 3 strategies to be mindful of by Dr. David Burns,The Feeling Good Handbook:
1. Catastrophizing. We expect disaster to strike, no matter what. This is also referred to as “magnifying or minimizing.” We hear about a problem and use what ifquestions (e.g., “What if tragedy strikes?” “What if it happens to me?”). For example, a person might exaggerate the importance of insignificant events (such as their mistake, or someone else’s achievement). Or they may inappropriately shrink the magnitude of significant events until they appear tiny (for example, a person’s own desirable qualities or someone else’s imperfections).
2. Mental Filter. You pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it exclusively so that your vision of all reality becomes darkened, like the drop of ink that discolors the entire beaker of water.
3. Disqualifying the Positive. You reject positive experiences by insisting they “don’t count” for some reason or other. You maintain a negative belief that is contradicted by your everyday experiences.
4. Jumping to Conclusions. You make a negative interpretation even though there are no definite facts that convincingly support your conclusion.
These 4 strategies will allow you to recognize when your in a negative state, let go of worry, and shift your focus to be more present.
Your mind is the most powerful tool that you have. When you learn how to work with it, your life can be a powerful masterpiece. To take your life to the next level, you need to understand that the external world is not what is controlling you but rather the internal forces shapes our lives.