How to Stop Worrying About Things Beyond Your Control

If there is one thing we hate, it’s toxic positivity. We’ve all seen the posts and maybe even art that read, “Good vibes only.” It’s infuriating and unhealthy. Feeling your emotions and recognizing your thoughts is an integral part of life. Denying what you are experiencing is dismissive and harmful.

In a way, the song Don’t Worry, Be Happy was a precursor to the modern culture of toxic positivity. It’s important not to live your life in a constant state of worry. That can cause physical illness. But simply ordering people not to worry isn’t helpful.

There are ways to help you let go of worries about things you can’t control. When a situation is beyond your control, fixating on it doesn’t help you. One way to help yourself is to remind yourself of the positive things you can do.

Melissa Day, a therapist, said, “Sometimes we can become overwhelmed when we worry about things we can’t control. The most powerful thing you can do is let go of control. Once you do this, you’ll experience true freedom. Become mindful of what you can do. We can only do things with what we have. Start to use positive self-talk by noticing all the brilliant things you do every day, for yourself and anyone else around you.” You can’t fix every problem or make the buses run on time, but you can do other things to help your day and the days of others.

Another big step to worrying less is accepting the situation. Many of us want to believe we can “make it right” when plans go wrong or a schedule gets thrown off. But, if the pandemic taught us anything at all, you often have to go with the flow and accept that a situation is the way it is.

Dr. Lynda Shaw, a neuroscientist, psychologist and change specialist, said, “[Even though] we have many reasons to be optimistic, the future can feel uncertain. Accept that change happens all of the time anyway, and be open-minded. If things don’t go to plan straight away, take a deep breath and try to keep your options open.”

One thing to keep in mind is that many of us “spiral.” We’ll think a negative thought and then build off of it. “What if this bad thing happens? And if that happens, what if this happens?” and it can go on and on. It’s easy to tie yourself into knots over things that might never happen. Challenging your negative thoughts can help you manage them. When you think, “What if this bad thing happens?” You can think, “What if it doesn’t?” You can deescalate your worries by examining and reframing them.

If the news or a certain person always causes stress, limit your exposure to them. Learning to say no to stressful situations can help you enjoy your life more. That doesn’t mean canceling your social life, but if you have a friend who is always derailing situations and making outings harder than they need to be, it might be time to reassess your friendship dynamics.

Something that might sound silly is to add worrying to your to-do list. If you find yourself constantly worrying, put it on your schedule. Put aside some dedicated time for it and sit with your thoughts. Clinical psychologist Ali Mattu recommends setting aside five to 10 minutes for a worry session. And, if writing helps you focus, get a pen to make a list of everything you’re concerned about. That way, it’s out of your brain, and you can get on with your day. Your worry time and location should be the same daily to make sinking into your feelings easy. You should also schedule it far away from bedtime so your brain isn’t racing while trying to sleep.  

I actually prescribe worry time to my clients,” said clinical psychologist Alicia Hodge, “a time when you can brain dump or problem-solve. It’s better than worrying about things all day and reaching no conclusion.”

If you are constantly struggling with worries, getting help is important. In the immediate moment speaking to a confidant can help ease your distress. But if worries impact you every day, it’s essential to speak to your doctor about how you are feeling. Everyone has worries, but you may be struggling with anxiety and not realize it.

Banner image: Nicola Barts via Pexels

Related Posts

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Please check your email to confirm your subscription.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form
By clicking the "Subscribe" button you agree to our newsletter policy