Simplify Your Worries

Simplify Your Worries

We tend to suffer about our past or future more than we do about the present. Regrets and guilt about our past accumulate, become overwhelming, and depression follows. And when worries and fear about the future take over, anxiety sets in. We can spend our whole life jumping from the regrets of yesterday straight into the worries of tomorrow and never even notice the blossoming flowers and trees in our own front lawn.

Anxiety happens because we care. There are people and things in our lives we strongly and deeply care about: the wellness and safety of our family; what others think of and expect from us; our jobs, friends, country, religion, community, image and social status; our knick-knacks, collections, and lists of tasks we need to accomplish this week. Whatever and whoever we care about and feel attached to will make us suffer when we have them, and when we do not have them anymore.

Still, some things and people are worth our love, and even sometimes the anxiety that comes with it. We choose to attach to these things willingly, but then we need to learn to make peace with the idea that we may loose them anytime because of their impermanent nature. When we acknowledge the impermanence and change inherent to all beings, we begin to enjoy and appreciate more the present moment as it is. We move beyond a space of overwhelming fear into one of selected attachment and consciously chosen anxiety.

While there are few things that are worth attaching to and fighting for, there are not many that are crucial in order to have a happy and meaningful life. For example, the size of the house and the car we own is not a measure of our happiness, and a highly paying job is no substitute for meaningful work you can’t wait to wake up for. And what other people think or feel about us should not become our problem when we are following our heart and taking healthy decisions for ourselves. Certain things are not worth our anxiety, and we can let go of them safely to focus on more rewarding aspects of life.

If making our mortgage or car payment every month has become stressful and painful, maybe it is time to downsize and enjoy the freedom of living a more simple life. Owning objects is less rewarding than owning experiences. For instance, take the time we spend with our loved ones; Or the time spent traveling, enjoying nature, relaxing at a coffee house and reading a book, or writing a journal at the park. It is important to remember that property is only worth having if that property doesn’t own us. When we are enslaved by our lifestyle we are really just enslaving ourselves, and we need to consider if living within our means and having a more genuine, simpler way of living might instead set us free. By prioritizing what is really important, and letting go of the unneeded tasks, demands, and things, we can live significantly less busy and worried lives.

Think of the things that you could not live without and why. Are there things you are stressing out about right now that you wouldn’t be willing to die for? So why die for them currently by letting them affect your health and control your life? Sometimes anxiety doesn’t seem like a choice, but many times it is, and it is only up to us to do something about it. Learn to differentiate between the stress you can control and the one you cannot control, and start taking small steps towards a simpler and more rewarding life.

When it comes to anxiety, we have more power of decision than we think. We may not be able to change stressful circumstances immediately but we can change our perspective, and the way we think and act under those circumstances. We can choose what is really important to us, and let go of the rest in order to simplify our worries.

Eva Malia is a licensed mental health counselor and works with clients on anxiety in her private practice. To schedule a time to work with Ms. Malia, fill out this inquiry form.