Are you struggling to stop worrying about the future? We all want to be prepared for whatever is coming down the pipeline, but until we accept that we cannot change or control the future, we cannot be free to enjoy the present moment.
Worrying about the future can take up a lot of our time and energy. After all, it may feel irresponsible to just throw up our hands and say “come what may.” But the truth is by focusing on things that haven’t happened yet, we miss what is actually happening around us. And that, my friend, is a squandered life.
So how do we stop worrying about the future? Mindfulness meditation? Redirect our attention to something we’re grateful for? I was hoping to add a third method here, but I’m coming up empty.
The thing is, breaking the habit of worrying can seem nearly impossible. Especially if you’ve done a lot of it.
Most certainly, meditation and gratitude are fantastic tools. But to really get to the root of the problem, you need one specific skill.
And that skill is: Thought Stopping
Thought Stopping Will Allow You to Stop Thinking About the Future
So, what is Thought Stopping exactly? Thought Stopping is like mental Kung Fu. Initially, it allows you to evaluate and categorize your thoughts as they come through your mind. Eventually, you will get so good at discerning the irrational thoughts from the rational ones, that you will be able to completely ignore anything that comes up that does not serve you. You will be able to stop that negative soundtrack constantly playing in the background of most of our minds.
This mental clarity will allow you to experience the present moment in a deeply profound way that you never knew was possible. And the best part is, once you’re able to do this, worrying about the future will no longer be a temptation at all. You will have the choice to do it or not, and why would you spoil the moment you’ve learned to enjoy with worrying?
Thought Stopping is a simple process, but it takes committed practice. It can be done in your head, but initially it’s best to write it out on paper. What you’ll need to do is, identify an event that makes you cringe. Just some day to day thing that didn’t work out perfectly the way you thought it should have, and when you think about it you get a twinge of some negative emotion.
Got one? Good! Now think back to what was going through your mind as that event took place. Remember your thought process, and write down the actual sentences that ran through your head at that time. Just list them out.
Here’s an example of a thought list that I did while I was learning how to Thought Stop:
I had made steak for dinner that night. Mine came out dry & well done, and Robert’s was bloody & rare. We like our steaks medium.
Here are the thoughts I had as we began eating:
“The thermometer said they were at the right temp.”
“I should have known better.”
“For the amount of smoke in the house, you’d think I could have gotten both steaks cooked through.”
“I made some mistakes.”
“I’m not a good cook.”
Woo! It’s usually easier to see the irrationality in someone else’s thinking than in our own. So, what do you see here? Perfectionism? Guilt and shame? Sarcasm? Judgement? Yuck!
The exact same thinking mind that produced all of that garbage (which ruined my experience of the meal/moment, by the way), is the same thinking mind that had me constantly worrying about the future.
Having a simple and organized method for walking through my thought patterns unlocked my power to choose what I thought about.
Even if it’s just once per day, pick an event and map your thoughts about it. And then disagree with them when they’re irrational! Exercise this muscle, and soon your power to direct your thinking will stop you from having worried thoughts about the future anymore.
Please let us know how you do with this method in the comments section below. We love hearing form you and helping troubleshoot.
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