Life comes at you hard in all of its unpredictable chaos.
Even the best-laid foundations of peace and stability will sometimes get rocked by circumstances outside of our control.
It doesn’t matter how much we ponder and plan about what may or may not come, there are always circumstances that we simply cannot predict.
That truth causes so much anxiety which then interrupts our present happiness and peace of mind.
To better preserve our happiness, we must all find a way to stop worrying about the future, dwell more in the present, and be sure of our ability to handle whatever the future will throw at us.
But how do we stop worrying so much about the future?
1. Practice mindfulness and living in the present.
Mindfulness is a hot topic in mental health and wellness. It’s based on the notion that the past is already done, so we cannot change it, and the future is not here yet, so there is no point in worrying about it.
All the worries in the world won’t change what’s happened or what will happen.
Bringing yourself back to this present moment to focus on the here and now can help keep your mind off of future worries.
An easy way to bring yourself back to the present moment is to focus on your immediate senses.
Look around. Think about everything that you can see around you. What do you smell? What do you hear? What do you feel?
And when your mind tries to pull away and drift to different thoughts, you force your thoughts back onto that track.
Repeating this process will help you develop a habit of being more in the present moment.
It’s simple, but it’s not easy. It does get easier the more you do it, though.
For a more detailed guide, read: How To Live In The Present Moment: 13 No Bullsh*t Tips!
2. Identify what you can and cannot control.
Anxiety about the future often stems from a feeling of a lack of control about what may happen to you.
The uncomfortable truth is that we often don’t have control over what will happen to us. We can only equip ourselves in the present to best meet whatever challenges we will face in the future.
What can you control?
You can plan, build your knowledge, ask for guidance and advice on what a potential situation may be, and mentally prepare yourself for both the best and worst-case scenarios.
Dwelling on the negative and everything that can go wrong is not healthy, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t think about it at all. There should be at least a little thought given to what will happen if things don’t go right.
But the negative often stands out stronger in your mind. You can balance this by spending more time thinking about how things can go right.
What you can’t control are the results.
You can have the best-laid plans, the most well-researched course of action with the highest probability of success, and things can still not work out. That’s just the way it goes sometimes.
Don’t emotionally over-invest in what could be.
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3. Embrace optimism for the future.
It is so easy to get swept into a negative, cynical mindset with all the horrible news that circulates and the various challenging circumstances you’ll face.
We are bombarded with negativity every time we turn on the television, open social media, or browse the internet.
Negativity and pessimism are infectious. They are what people tend to expect whether or not they have any reason to expect them.
And the reason is that negativity and pessimism is easy. It’s easy to look at anything and everything, reduce it to what can go wrong, and dismiss it out of hand.
But optimism provides a counter to that type of thinking.
It’s often shouted down by negative or cynical people as irrational. Still, it’s no more unreasonable than thinking everything in the world is terrible.
Optimism isn’t about being obliviously happy to the difficulties of life. It’s knowing that you are strong enough, capable enough, and able to tackle whatever life may throw at you.
But what if you come up against something you don’t know how to cope with? Well, someone somewhere does. That’s what books, self-help articles, and mental health professionals are for.
Whatever comes your way in the future, you have the power and capability to handle it, or seek out the answers that you need. That’s what optimism is about.
4. Journal out your negative thoughts and anxieties.
There is a lot of blanket advice out there telling people to talk about the things that trouble them with others.
That can sometimes be a good thing, but it can sometimes not.
The problem with that advice is knowing when enough is enough. There comes a point where you exhaust all relevant thoughts about a situation and then you start rehashing the same information.
This is not helpful. It’s called rumination, and it can result in dwelling in negative mental spaces and spiraling into even darker territory.
And that’s not something you want when you’re trying to keep yourself from worrying about the future.
Journaling is a much better option.
You have an opportunity to sit down, really think about, and explore what you’re currently perceiving and feeling.
The process of journaling is a reasonably linear one, so you can have a definite start and stop point.
Many people find that putting their emotions down in words helps them process what they’re perceiving with greater clarity. It’s also easier to review what you feel so you can identify any points that might not be reasonable or rational.
It doesn’t matter if you write by hand or type, so long as you follow through on journaling. Writing by hand is slower, but it is nice to set aside technology and not need to look at any screens for a little while.
For a detailed guide, read: Journaling For Beginners: How To Journal, What To Write, Why It’s Important
5. Embrace gratitude for the present and what you have.
Gratitude is such a powerful tool for grounding yourself in the present and making worries for the future smaller.
By choosing gratitude over negativity, you are replacing those negative thoughts with more positive ones.
After all, you aren’t going to have both negative and positive trains of thought running at the same time if you are focusing on one or the other.
So make a choice to focus on gratitude when you find yourself worrying about the future.
Look around you. Consider your life. Consider what’s in your life, even if things aren’t going the best at the moment.
What can you be grateful for? A pet? A friend? A family member? An opportunity? Things you’ve accomplished? Even something as simple as being alive and present to experience anything at all?
Life isn’t always easy, but so long as we’re here and draw breath, we have the ability to create something new and beautiful for ourselves.
The future may not seem to be so bright at times, but you can also look back to the struggles you’ve already overcome as proof that you’ll weather any coming storm.
6. Get active and involved!
The best way to be less afraid of the future is to start working in the present to improve it.
Every step you take today is just one small part of your overall journey. And those small parts will ultimately become the much larger culmination of your journey.
So get active, get involved, and take action where you can!
Do whatever you can right now to improve your future, whatever that may be. Start making those small steps that will lead you to something much greater, whether that’s peace of mind or security.
Few things dispel fear as effectively as taking action.