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How to Stop Worrying About the Future: 8 Practical Techniques

How to Stop Worrying About the Future: 8 Practical Techniques

Have you ever lost sleep worrying about something that has yet to happen?

Has worrying about the future interrupted your productivity? Your flow? Your day? Your mood?

If you answered “yes”, you are not alone.

Worry happens to all of us, particularly when it comes to events, people, and things that are important.

The trouble with worry is it is a complete and total waste of our valuable time and energy. We all know that on a logical level, and yet we still worry.

Here’s the good news:

While we may never learn how to stop worrying about the future completely, there are ways to help us better manage that worry, so we can save ourselves some time. In this article, we’ll go over exactly how to do just that.

How Worrying Wastes Time and Energy

“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.” –Leo F. Buscaglia

Part of managing worry is being aware of the costs. When we create awareness we are better able to create proactive solutions to minimize or eliminate that cost.

What does worrying about the future cost you?

  • Cost #1: Worrying about what has yet to happen uses up valuable mental real estate and time.
  • Cost #2: While worry may give you something to do, you most likely have better things to do with your time and your energy. For example, you could instead focus on your to-do list or notice the multitude of opportunities waiting for you. Focusing on worry not only makes it difficult to handle your to-do list, it also blocks you from seeing those opportunities or the steps that lead to them.
  • Cost #3: Worrying about the future is also an energy drain leaving you susceptible to more worry. Did you know that worry takes advantage of the times when your energy is low? That is when worry is at its most powerful.
  • Cost #4: It is a present moment joy crusher that can lower not just your energy but also your mood.
  • Cost #5: Speaking of mood; worry never gets you anywhere. Worry does not get you to a place where everything is OK. It does not make sure that everything is taken care of. Actually it does the opposite.
  • Cost #6: Worrying about the future creates a vicious loop of more worry about the future.

8 Tried and True Worry Busting Techniques

When I find myself worrying about the future, I use the following techniques to manage the worry.

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Just a little side note: I like to switch it up a bit. I use a different technique each time I find myself worried about the future, or worried about anything for that matter.

1. Practice Mindfulness

Since worrying about the future pulls us into the future, nothing busts worry faster than some good old fashion present moment mindfulness.

Take a look around and notice what is surrounding you. What do you see? What do you feel? What do you taste? What do you hear? What do you smell?

Taking note of your surroundings by using your senses is an awesome way to pull yourself into the present moment where future-related worry cannot bother you.

Here is a simple guide on mindfulness for beginners.

2. Do Deep Breathing

Have you ever noticed your breathing when you are worrying? If not, the next time you are worried about a future-related event check in with your breathing.

Worrying causes our breathing to become shallow. And deep breathing can help us to relax, decrease our anxiety levels and get us out of worry mode.

Here are two techniques to use to engage those deep breathes and cue the relaxation:

The 4,4,and 4 technique

Give it a try right now by taking a deep breath in through your nose to a count of four. Then let the breath out through your nose or mouth to a count of four. Do that four times.

Another side note: Be sure to do this technique slowly so you do not hyperventilate or make yourself dizzy.

Oxytocin Breathing

It actually releases the powerful hormone oxytocin into your brain. This is the same hormone that is released when you are hugging or kissing someone you love or after making love.

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Just a word of caution: you may not want to do this breathing technique in the middle of your busy office or a crowded street. It is best to do it some place private.

Here’s how to do Oxytocin Breathing:

Take a REALLY deep breath so that you are filling up your belly with air. Once you feel your belly expand to the point that you can no longer take in any more air, release it slowly by letting out an audible “Haaaaaaaaaaaahhh”.

Repeat this technique a few times until you feel yourself relaxing. Check out this video to see the technique in action:

By the way, worry hates deep breathing so this is one of the quickest and the easiest techniques to use.

3. Express Extra Gratitude

As you are probably already aware, worry creates negative thoughts and feelings. Gratitude does the exact opposite.

Since your brain cannot think positive and negative thoughts at the same time, gratitude is an awesome worry buster. Not to mention, it’s something you can do any where, any time, especially when you are short on time.

I actually use gratitude when worry wakes me up in the middle of the night. When this happens, I begin listing all the things I am grateful for until I fall back to sleep. It works like a charm.

Similar to the present moment exercise, take a look around.

Really quickly begin listing at least three things or more that you are grateful for. It could be the chair you are sitting in or the sleeping pet at your feet.

Just start listing and before you know it, the feeling of gratitude will replace the negative feeling that worry causes.

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You can get more ideas from this list of 40 simple ways to practice gratitude.

4. Lean Into “What Ifs”

It is all too common to want to shove worry aside or try and stuff it. Especially when you have a tight project deadline or a calendar full of obligations. Doing so, however, is just an invitation for the worry to stick around even longer.

Rather than try to ignore the worry, lean into by asking yourself the following question, “What if what I’m worrying about were to actually happen?”

Once you have your answer then ask yourself this follow-up question, “Then what would happen?” Keep asking the follow-up question until you have run out of “then what’s”.

I always find that doing this exercise takes the bite out of worry. I also walk away with a plan should what I’m worrying about actually happen. Which, by the way, usually does not happen.

5. Take Back Control

“If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it’s not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.” — The Dalai Lama

What do you have control over? What can you fix? What can you do to prevent whatever you are worrying about from happening?

For many of us, worry creates a feeling of being out of control and not safe. Doing things that are within our control helps us to regain those feelings of control and safety.

6. Tighten and Release

When you are worried, do you often feel a tightness in your stomach or your neck? Use that tightness to help you relax.

It sounds funny, but go ahead and tighten every muscle in your body.

Tighten your legs, suck in your stomach, clench your bottom, tighten your arms, and make fists. Hold your muscles in that tight position for just a moment, and then release all your muscles.

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This technique is called Progressive Muscle Relaxation. It combats worry and even stress by creating awareness around what the body feels like when it is in a relaxed state. And when you are in a relaxed state you are not in a state of worry.

7. Use Worry as a Gauge

Worry serves as a great gauge to let us know what is important and what is not. When you are worrying about something, tune-in to the gauge.

How important is what you are worrying about on a scale of 1-10? If you gave it a 5 or less, ask yourself this question,”Since this thing I’m worried about isn’t super important, what is really driving the worry?”

If you gave it a 5 or higher, then it’s time to turn worry into a motivator to start taking action. To help, go back to #5 the Take Back Control technique and ask yourself those questions.

8. Write or Talk It Out

Getting worry out of your head diminishes it. It is like the old analogy that if you shine a light on bacteria it dies. But if you keep it in the dark, it grows.

If you do not feel comfortable talking your worry thoughts and emotions out with a friend, family member, coach, or another trusted professional, try writing about it. Get it all out on paper and then throw the paper away.

Writing about your future-related worry takes the charge out of it and creates more clarity and awareness.

Final Thoughts

Worrying has nothing on you. The next time you find yourself worrying about the future:

  • Create awareness around what the worry is costing you.
  • Use one or more of the worry busting techniques.
  • Remember that you are not alone when it comes to worrying (we all do it).

So, there you have it. By following the steps above you’ll be able to have a more worry-free life so that you can reclaim your precious time and get stuff done!

Featured photo credit: Freely via freelyphotos.com

More by this author

Pam Thomas

Chief Change Officer @What's Within U; Helping people dig out from the ruts that keep them stuck personally and professionally.

How to Develop a Lifelong Learning Habit How to Stop Worrying About the Future: 8 Practical Techniques How to Talk to Strangers When You Feel Crippled With Social Anxiety Writing Journal for a Better and More Productive Self (The How-To Guide)

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Last Updated on April 6, 2020

What Is Self-Worth and How to Recognize Yours

What Is Self-Worth and How to Recognize Yours

There are a ton of articles on the internet on one’s “self” topic or another. It’s possible that you’ve read some of them before this one, and you’re wondering how this article might be any different from the rest.

The truth is that self-love, self-esteem, self-empathy, self-regard, and all the other ‘self-’ words are indeed great and unique qualities to be instilled. Still, the most crucial concept of them all is self-worth.

What is Self-Worth?

Self-worth is simply defined as the level of importance you place on yourself. It is an emotional outlook that determines how and what you feel about yourself in comparison to other people.

Self-worth is a fundamental part of our being, and it controls the way we see ourselves. Everything we think about, all the emotions we feel, and even the way we act is a product of what value we place on ourselves by ourselves.

Self-worth is an entirely sensitive topic. So, here are a few recommended steps to recognizing your true self-worth.

    The Theory of Self-Worth

    To most people, self-worth only comes after a feat has been achieved or when in competition with another person. This is the theory: that a person’s life goal is self-recognition and that this recognition is a product of their accomplishments. This theory also holds capability, determination, performance, and self-esteem as its model elements.

    These four elements cooperate with each other to contribute to how we regard ourselves. It may be relatable, but should we really be placing so much importance on our accomplishments just to determine our self-worth? Is outdoing the next person the only way we can hold ourselves in high regard? What really determines one’s sense of value?

    Factors That Define Self-Worth

    The four elements from the theory above are not the only benchmarks used by people to determine self-worth. Many other things can inhibit how a person recognizes their self-worth. For some, it might be childhood trauma, low grades, or even bullying.

    The following are more common ways people measure their self-worth:

    1. Sphere of Contact

    Many times, people are weighed (or weigh themselves) by the number of prominent people they are close to and know.

    2. Physical and Emotional Appearance

    We find ourselves passing judgments just by regarding a person’s outward look – what they wear, how they speak, or how the society feels about them.

    3. Occupation

    This is another yardstick that people use to measure self-worth. Someone can be mean to a waiter and friendly to a doctor, for example, because they feel the latter is more successful than the former. Career choices often add positive or negative importance to one’s life.

    4. Possessions

    This is a common factor used to measure self-worth. It can be anything from the size of your paycheck to the kind and number of cars you own. It is usually material assets.

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      What Self-Worth Is Not

      The truth is that status or material things should never measure self-worth. There are many misconceptions about self-worth that have sadly shaped the minds of people into thinking less of themselves when they are, in fact, more.

      Self-Worth Is Not Your Career

      Your occupation should not determine the value you place on your life.

      There have been cases where experienced and trained professionals have had to settle for menial jobs because they couldn’t get hired. If this doesn’t take away their qualifications, why then should self-worth be measured according to career choices? The only thing that should be a concern is how gratifying the job is.

      Self-Worth Is Not About Your Accomplishment

      Achievements are great, but what you do or achieve shouldn’t affect the importance you place on yourself. No label, certificate, or plaque should measure your worth for you.

      Self-Worth Is Not Your Age

      I don’t mean to sound cliché by telling you age is nothing but a big number, but I will tell you this: how old or how young you are does not determine how prepared you are for anything.

      You only need to be willing and dedicated, and the world will be at your feet.

      Self-Worth Is Not Your Love Life

      It is tempting to try to feel good about yourself just because someone feels good about you. What if they leave?

      Single or not, do not make a relationship the basis for your self-worth.

      Self-Worth Is Not Your Grades

      Are you the least smart person in your class? Know that you are just as valuable as a straight-A student because you have individual gifts and might excel at something else that an A-student will flunk terribly.

      Self-Worth Is Not Your Health Status

      Do you have an illness that’s lowering your spirits? It is safe to say that positive people heal more quickly, so stay optimistic.

      Self-Worth Is Not Your Finances

      Too much or too little money does not define a person. As long as you are satisfied and have enough to survive, then there’s nothing to worry about.

      Self-Worth Is Not About Your Preference

      Do people think you’re old-school or too sophisticated for this generation? Their opinion doesn’t matter as long as you’re okay with who you are.

      Self-worth is only about you!

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        What Self-Worth Really Is

        It can be somewhat overwhelming to see yourself for who “you surely are” without the assets or dream job or friends. For some people, it can be agonizing, and they would do anything but come to this stage of awareness. There also exists a high possibility for one to become afraid of becoming self-aware.

        It is natural for humans to be elusive of this sort of fear or pain. This process is necessary for the discovery of self-worth and should never be avoided. Beyond every seemingly painful emotion is an eternity of freedom, and the first step on this journey is self-awareness. This is the key to finding self-worth.

        Everyone has a mental picture of who they want to be. Sometimes this person is not who he or she is. It’s okay to have ambitions and life goals, but never let your dreams make you deny yourself. Self-denial is an enemy to self-worth. This is why it is painful to become self-aware. Most people will never want to let go of who they think they are and embrace their true selves for who they indeed are.

        Self-worth is not a bad thing. It only makes you accept your weaknesses while you learn to focus on your strengths. Some of this strength lies undiscovered, and until we become self-aware, we will be unable to bring them to light.

        On self-worth, you can either be your own best friend or your worst enemy. If you keep evading self-awareness, you will only keep delaying your freedom and healing. Self-worth truly comes when you fully understand who you are and what strong potential you possess.

        The Importance of Self-Worth

        The best part about recognizing self-worth is seeing the practical impact it has on your behavior. Self-worth affects the things you do and the choices you make consciously. You start rejecting anything that has a negative effect on your outlook on life, and you become more open to things crafted to make you a better person.

        Self-worth is what keeps you satisfied even if all your achievements, assets, and possessions are taken away from you. The moment you reach healthy levels of self-worth, life becomes much more meaningful.

          How To Recognize Your Self-Worth

          So, you’ve finally become self-aware, but you don’t feel good about yourself. Nothing excites you about you. You think you’re just an average person, coursing through life with nothing special to offer.

          You start to feel like you need validation from determining your self-worth. You want to achieve a task or even take a quiz to measure your self-worth. What you should know is that self-worth first comes from within.

          To reiterate the opening paragraph of this article, it is the level of importance you place on yourself; by yourself! By merely existing, you are sufficient.

          Finding Strength

          Strength in self-worth comes from finding qualities you excel at. These qualities will be a constant reminder whenever you start feeling like you are not worthy enough.

          Little things like a list of your talents, things you like about yourself that make you stand out, challenges you’ve won at, how you’ve helped other people, and other great reflections are examples of questions you should have answers to. Your strength lies in those questions.

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          The Dangers of Linking Self-Worth to Things and People

          You make unhealthy decisions when you keep looking for validation in things and people. You never get to see yourself for the potential-filled and robust person you are.

          Looking for external validation will only frustrate you. You set yourself up for a chain of disappointments. Place your worth on your insides. It is the key to leading a healthy life.

          How To Start Increasing Your Self-Worth

          Now that you’ve seen the vacuums that continuously drain your self-worth, it’s time to learn ways to increase, strengthen, and sustain it. You can start by highlighting the things you previously found your worth in and substitute them for more productive activities.

          Here are some examples.

          For the One Who Found Self-Worth in Excelling at School or at Work:

          Take some time off from all the excessive reading. Engage in an activity that you really like. Learn a new skill, like how to play an instrument or how to dance salsa. Read an unusual book.

          For the One Who Sought Validation from Social Media:

          Go offline for some time. Attend hangouts with physical people. Take long and reflective walks. Be intentional about your words and actions. Show your relations and friends that you care for them. Show up physically for people. Be there for them.

          On your journey to recognize self-worth, never compare yourself to anyone. By comparison, you rob yourself of self-awareness and block your chances of seeing your strong potential. Comparison only measures your worth by other people’s standards. How about creating some rules on your own?

          With time, it becomes easier to free oneself from the weight that comes with no self-worth. It is easy to do things you believe in than otherwise. Never doubt the process. Reassure yourself that your journey to self-worth will be the most rewarding experience of your life.

          Let’s take a look at some practical ways to boost self-worth:

          1. Do a Talent or Skill Inventory

          Everyone has something good to offer. Humans possess and can learn mind-blowing abilities.

          What can you offer? Take stock of your skills and gifts.

          What are those cool things you do effortlessly? When you identify your abilities, you suppress your weaknesses and give voice to your strength.

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          2. Pardon Yourself

          You have to forgive yourself for all your shortcomings. Learn from all your past mistakes. If you keep feeling guilty or ashamed, you will never have a healthy sense of self-worth.

          3. Take Risks

          The only reason you haven’t done something great for yourself is that you are still wondering whether or not you should do it. Never be afraid to take risks to become a better version of yourself. Stop doubting your abilities and go.

          If you don’t succeed on your initial try, you would only have learned how not to fail next time. Get up and do great things.

          Try these 6 Ways to Be a Successful Risk Taker and Take More Chances.

          4. Self-Love

          Accept yourself for who you are. If you have negative qualities, work on becoming a better person. Never make the mistake of living in denial. You would only be delaying your freedom.

          Here’re 30 Ways To Practice Self-Love And Be Good To Yourself.

          5. Surround Yourself with Healthy People

          Healthy attracts healthy. Healthy habits can rub off as much as negative ones do.

          Surround yourself with the change you want to see. Be with people who have overcome the doubts they had about themselves and, like you, are also on a journey to recognizing self-worth.

          Take a look at this article and learn How to Surround Yourself With Positive People.

          It is crucial for everyone to lead healthy lives physically, emotionally, socially, mentally, and otherwise, by evaluating our self-worth. We have to consciously take steps to build and develop our sense of regard for each other and, more importantly, for ourselves. Healthy self-worth is a source of deep and lasting satisfaction in life.

          Final Thoughts

          It is worthy to note that you will begin to lose friends on your journey to recognize your self-worth.

          People with low self-worth find solace in each other’s company and so your new-found confidence might become threatening. It’s okay. Ensure your growth process inspires them, but do not hesitate to keep a distance from anyone who does not support your growth.

          More Tips to Improve Your Self-Worth

          Featured photo credit: Erik Lucatero via unsplash.com

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