There’s a quote floating around the interwebs about worry that goes something like this:
“If you stress too much about something before it even happens, you basically put yourself through it twice.”
Sounds logical, right?
Well if, like me, you’re someone who worries about even the most minor of things on a regular basis, you also know that while this statement may sound helpful in theory, it doesn’t do much to calm the actual worries when they’re happening.
Because now not only are you stressing about the “thing” (whatever that may be for you—and for me, that’s usually like 12 things at the same time) but now you’re worrying about all the stress you’re putting yourself through by stressing about the “thing” twice (…or 12 times).
Because the truth is that worry is rarely logical. It’s emotional.
It’s based on uncertainty and what ifs.
It’s based on fear: fear of something “bad” (or scary or unexpected or outside of your plans) happening, and fear of not being smart enough or strong enough or prepared enough to handle the bad thing if and when it happens.
I worry about things I can’t control. I worry about things that I can 100 percent control. I worry about choices I’ve made or might make or am considering making or may never make. I worry about random, improbable things. I worry about super realistic, definitely-could-happen things.
I worry about big things, like where to live and when to have children and whether I can afford the life I want. And I worry about small things, like what kind of bread to eat for lunch and how much traffic there’ll be on the way to yoga and whether I should go to sleep at 10 because I’m exhausted or watch one more episode.
The list can feel never-ending.
And even when I know that all the things I’m worrying about aren’t going to happen or are minor in comparison to everything else happening in the world and in my life, having someone tell me, “Hey, quit stressing about [insert giant worry here] because you’re just putting yourself through it twice,” is honestly the least helpful advice.
It’s sort of like telling someone who is angry to calm down. It always sounds better in our heads…
But recently, I came across some advice that did feel helpful. It might be the best advice I’ve ever heard about worrying:
View this post on Instagram
“I just heard a podcast where a psychologist shared the best advice for worry. She said, ‘The version of you that will handle that tough thing—if or when it happens—will be born into existence in that very moment…trust your future self to handle future problems.”
(I just saw in the comments on that Instagram post that the quote mentioned is from “The Blonde Files” podcast with Dr. Emily Anhalt.)
This is the reassurance I needed. The reassurance I will continue to give myself when things get stressful.
Because while my present self may feel stressed and worried about all the things that haven’t happened yet, I can still trust that my future self will be smart enough and strong enough and prepared enough to handle whatever comes my way.