“If you go around being afraid, you’re never going to enjoy life. You have only one chance, so you’ve got to have fun.” – Lindsey Vonn
Business coach Bob Reish says, “If we spent more time excited about what will go right, we would not have time to dwell on why it won’t work. Don’t assume you will fail, celebrate your victory as you run toward the destination.”
When things already aren’t going right, we often focus on what else could possibly go wrong. This makes it almost impossible for us to focus on fixing the things that are going wrong in the first place! It’s a never-ending cycle. It’s never a good idea to focus on things that are hypothetical, or things that are out of your control.
But still, it can sometimes feel impossible to stop focusing on them, especially when nothing seems to be going right in the first place. Fortunately, there are definite ways to train your brain to stop focusing on all of the things that could go wrong. Once you’re able to let those worries go, you can focus on how to make things right in your life.
FOUR WAYS TO STOP BEING AFRAID OF WHAT COULD GO WRONG
1. FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL
You can only focus on a few things at a time. Instead of struggling to focus on the things that you can’t possibly control – other people, the weather, your boss – you need to start focusing on the things that you can control.
As Steve Maraboli once said, “Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.”
When we’re worried about what could go wrong, the things that worry us most are the things that we have no control over. Usually, the only things you can control are your own actions, your own thoughts, and your own words. If you’re worried about money, start squirreling away a rainy-day fund. If you’re worried about losing your job, clean up your resume and have it ready to send out to places you’re qualified for. These are the things in your life that you can control – so take control!
2. WRITE A LIST OF ALL THE THINGS YOU’RE AFRAID OF
This may seem counterproductive, but trust me on this one. When you’re imagining all of the things that could go wrong, they don’t seem very concrete. That is to say, they’re much scarier in your head than they actually are.
“Sometimes seeing your fear in writing gives you control over the fear rather than the other way around,” says author Eileen Bailey. Therefore, when you start putting the things you’re afraid of into words, it’ll be easier for you to talk yourself down from worrying about them so much.
If some of the things that you’re afraid of are unlikely to happen, you’ll be able to see it better once you write them down. Remember: your worst-case scenarios aren’t likely to happen! Things often go much better than you anticipate.
3. TALK TO SOMEONE
Talking to a friend, family member or professional counselor can make it much easier to release all of those pent-up feelings of fear. If your brain seems to be overwhelmed by all of the possibilities of things that can go wrong, you may need a little extra help talking yourself down. A close friend or family member may be close enough to know just what you need to calm down and help you re-center your thoughts. But, you may also benefit from an outside perspective who can help you realize that all of the things you’re worried about aren’t worth worrying about in the first place!
4. MAKE CONTINGENCY PLANS
Sometimes, the best way to help ourselves get over the fear of something going wrong is to make out a plan for “just in case”. If you’re afraid of losing your job, make a plan on what to do if that happens. If you’re afraid of a fire breaking out in your house, make sure you have a plan that everyone knows to follow if such a thing were to ever happen. Worrying about what could go wrong is sometimes heightened by not knowing what you would do if those things ever actually went wrong. Having a plan can be just what you need to make you feel better and stop worrying so much.
If you’re a worrier, like some of us, you may find that you’re worried about all of the things that could go wrong in your day-to-day life, or all of the major, catastrophic things that could go wrong. Either way, being afraid of those things is likely causing you a lot of distress. That’s why it’s best to learn how to let those things go, and to focus on what you can control, and focus on what’s going right in your life. Even if everything is already going wrong, worrying about what else could happen only makes it harder to deal with the important things.