We all have things we care about. We care about these things because of what they mean to us and how they make us feel. We care about being good parents, loving partners, and delivering on our responsibilities at work or school. But just as we can’t always control the things we think about, there are some things we also care about that are beyond our control. For example, we may care about the weather, but we can’t control when it rains.
Sometimes the things we care about involve us, like when we are preoccupied with our personal needs and expectations. Other times, they involve people close to us, like the deteriorating health of a relative or the agony of a friend going through a divorce. While it’s human nature to care about others, when you start obsessing over things you can’t control, it can negatively affect your mental and emotional health.
If your mind cannot stay clear of anxious thoughts and distressing feelings, then the following tips should help you take back control of your worried mind and manage your stress. These tips have been invaluable in helping me to control my actions.
Accept There Are Things You Can’t Control
You can’t always stop bad things from happening. As much as we all wish things could happen the way we want, this is never going to be possible. People who obsess over everything around them become control freaks. They may control many things happening, but they worry about situations they find hard to control. Sometimes being in control is your effort at maintaining order. No matter how much power you have or how intelligent you are, there are three things you can’t control:
The past — Life is not a sci-fi movie with a time machine that allows you to go back and correct past mistakes. In the real world, words spoken cannot be unsaid, and decisions made cannot be undone. However, instead of dwelling on negative emotions like guilt, shame, anger, and regret, endeavor to learn from your past mistakes and focus on your influence over the present. You may have wanted to give your child a better life, but as long as you both are alive, you can still give your child the good life they deserve.
The thoughts and actions of other people — You can tell people what to do and how to do it, but the decision will always be theirs to make. No matter how much influence you have over people, they can still choose to act in a manner contrary to your expectation. You can find more comfort when you make peace with the unpredictable aspect of human nature and keep a realistic impression of people.
Existential situations and events — Unexpected situations and events have the potential to turn the world on its head. You can have all the right ideas and intentions yet have your plan go wrong through no fault of yours. You can protect yourself from the pain of disappointment that comes from failing to have an “expect the best and prepare for the worst” mindset to life events. Remember that you can control how you react even though you can’t stop bad things from happening.
Keep A Journal
Writing down the conversations in your head is a healthy way to manage your anxieties and reduce stress. Journal writing helps you to acknowledge that your thoughts may be illogical and gives you a chance to examine the underlying concerns that keep you in a state of bother. By keeping a journal, you will be able to process your innermost feelings to resolve the constant conflicts eating you up.
You can write as often as you want, about whatever situations you care about, without the pressure to filter your manner of expression. The emancipation that comes from emptying your troubled mind on a page should also give you the mental space to concentrate on more pleasant and productive thoughts that fill you with a relaxed sense of assurance. Writing down your thoughts can also help you notice how you cope with your anxieties, enabling you to pay attention to your stress.
Challenge Your Fears
One of the best ways to reduce your anxiety is not to give in to your fears. The Merriam-Webster online dictionary describes fear as “an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger.” Fear makes you apprehensive and agitated, hinders your capacity to see through the root cause of your scary thoughts, and makes you doubt your ability. Fear exploits the human desire for control, bombards the mind with the perils of consequence, and puts you in an irrational state where you obsess over your vulnerability. When you challenge your fears, it increases your chances of not being overwhelmed by the things you cannot control.
Below Are Some Suggestions On How To Challenge Your Fears:
Evaluate what you’re up against. When it comes to rising above your fears, the first thing you have to do is to identify your most distressing concern about the situation. Do you really believe you have no reason to seek a promotion, or is the thought of rejection the real issue? Be objective as you analyze the situation and identify your fears. When you can stop worrying about the situation, it stimulates the analytical channel in your brain for rational thoughts.
Focus on possible solutions. Instead of wasting your time ruminating about your fears, think about how to overcome them. There’s a good chance you are stronger than your fears. If you find yourself worrying over situations that seem beyond your control, train your brain to prioritize seeking solutions instead of wasting time ruminating over the consequences of failure. Think critically, read about how other people could deal with the situation you find yourself in, and research effective techniques and solutions to overcome the problem.
Don’t rush the process. It can be tempting to take on all your fears at once in a bid to overcome them as soon as possible. But the required mental effort to resolve all your fears may be too overwhelming and stressful. Many people try to do so many things at once, but ultimately they waste energy achieving nothing. When you are stressed, you are less likely to think with clarity, and whatever solutions you come up with may prove to be inadequate. When you can put your energy to good use, it will help reduce your stress and provide you with the impetus to tackle your fears one at a time.
Share Your Concerns
Sharing is caring, and sometimes the best way to stop worrying is to share your doubts and uncertainties with others. Finding a safe space to discuss your troubles can be a good way to manage your stress. Don’t be afraid to seek clarification when you don’t understand something, nor should you let your concerns about someone else’s situation get the better of you. Instead of internalizing your discomfort, learn to communicate them to the best of your ability, especially when dealing with someone willing to provide you with reasons to stop worrying.
If you don’t have many reliable choices, share your opinion with an expert who can help you navigate the complex aspects of your most distressing mental conflicts. ReGain has a dedicated pool of professional therapists that will help you differentiate between ruminating and positioning your mind to become a haven for positive thoughts. You can get started here.