Let go of worry when you have no control.
It seems paradoxical but the secret to learning how to let go of worry is to only worry when you have some degree of control.
Most of us experience worry, anxiety, and even anguish, over situations where we don’t have any control. Intuitively, this seems like a logical reaction. If you can’t control the outcome, you tend to worry about what the outcome will be and what it will mean. But, in reality, worry just saps you of your vital energy, draining your motivation, and depleting your resources. Think about it: how can anxiety possibly alter an outcome over which you have no control? It can’t. All it does is leave you in a state that is not conducive to dealing with the eventual outcome. And usually it’s all for nothing because, in the end, things do tend to work themselves out.
So before you get yourself in a complete psychological and physiological tangle over something, think about it. Can you control the outcome? If not, let go of worry because what will happen, will happen regardless of your state of being.
When it’s okay to worry
What about situations where you do have some control? Where you can influence the outcome? This is where there might be a place for a certain degree of concern. But here, let it be a motivating factor. Allow your worry to channel your focus and energy on productively addressing the situation at hand. The trick is to allow your feelings to actually be a source of energy, a fuel for action, not an unproductive depletion of motivation.
All too often in life we expend unnecessary anguish over the past, or dwell in increasingly insurmountable anxiety over the future. Let go of worry. Let the past be just that: in the past. The future will happen.
Despite a sense of overwhelming optimism at the start of 2015, so far this year has not gone as planned. I’m not surprised that life doesn’t always go as planned. I’m not surprised that life has its ups and downs. What does surprise me, however, is realising that I’m not terribly bothered by this. Perhaps it’s a sign that I’m making progress in overcoming depression. That would be quite ironic, given how this year has gone.
So far, I have not managed to do what I know I should be doing on a regular basis. So far, I have not done the following:
- follow a health eating plan
- exercise regularly
- practise mindfulness
- pursue hobbies
- engage in creative activities
That list is a pretty basic outline of what you need to do if you are intent on overcoming depression. But life is just not that straightforward. I have a long-held belief that one of the most debilitating effects of depression is that it fosters an inclination to do exactly what you should not be doing. It takes every ounce of willpower, and then some, to vaguely muster up the energy and determination to make a salad, go to gym, etc. It feels like every cell in your being is screaming for you to climb back under the covers – with a slab of chocolate.
So how do you climb out of bed and find your way to gym?
Overcoming depression is not a war: a war has an end.
Dealing with a chronic physical illness is an ongoing battle. Fortunately, the fight does get easier and a little less intense every time you launch an attack. And just how do you launch a successful attack?
- Make the decision. I believe that you need to firmly and consciously make a decision to fight this illness. You need to focus your energy on doing whatever it is you need to go to rediscover your true self.
- Get support. You need someone in your life who understands what you’re going through and can give you the type and degree of motivation you need to get going.
- Be flexible. Sometimes a routine can help to get you going, but too much rigidity can induce anxiety that will see you under the covers again.
- Don’t wait for Monday. As soon as you make that decision, start immediately. Don’t procrastinate even more.
If I make it sound easy, I don’t mean to. I was tired just walking up the stairs at gym to get to the treadmill. After fifteen minutes I had a headache and a blister from my running shoes. I made the decision to pull up my socks – literally – and keep going. There have been some lapses… A fondness for baking is not a great hobby if you’re trying to follow healthy diet, and yet I found myself in the kitchen baking some of my favourite goodies. But the point it, I’ve made a start and I’m trying. More importantly, I’m not beating myself up about the fact that I haven’t been doing what I ought to.
It’s taken me a long time, but I’ve finally learnt to simply accept that life happens. Overcoming depression means accepting that this illness has its highs and lows, and knowing that all that you can do is your best. And that’s what I’m going to do: try my best to look after my physical, emotional and mental well-being.
“What is the point in being alive if you are never taken completely by surprise?”
– Anne Perry
This quote made me pause a little and think about my life. I think that what struck me first about this quote was her use of the words being alive. It’s so much more than just existing.
Life needs to be injected with a sense of energy. Vitality. Dynamism. I’m not saying that you have to be an irrepressible ball of energy for every moment of every day. As we all know, afternoon naps are very important. Necessary, in fact. I might go so far as to say sacred. You get my point.
In all seriousness, though, life needs to be filled with fun. I think that with the right approach you can live a life where you feel alive and invite welcome surprises into your life. It’s about being optimistic: having faith in all that is good, having faith that things will work out in the end. I don’t want to get sucked into the negativity and cynicism that seems to be all too commonplace nowadays. It’s one of the reasons I tend to avoid newspapers and watching the news on television. Some might call it a form of naivety, but I really don’t care. I want to feel content with things as they are in my life. And I do.
I think that we could all benefit from putting a little bit of surprise and energy back into our lives. Life after all should be enjoyed.
A lot of people ask me for advice when it comes to writing. I never really know how to answer, except to say: just start. If there’s one rule I live by, it’s this: don’t wait for inspiration. I think that every person can create his/own motivation and inspiration. And that goes for life in general.
Sometimes you just need to get stuck in, whether it’s writing, exercise, or anything else. If it’s something that you enjoy and something for which you have a aptitude, then you will find inspiration and motivation through actually engaging in the activity. If you adopt the mindset that you have to wait to feel inspired before you get started, you run the risk of never getting started at all.
It boils down to simply making a decision to go ahead with something. And by making a decision, I’m talking about consciously making a firm commitment to something, not just a vague statement that lacks true conviction. A decision is something definite. And then you go through with your decision. Based on my experience, if you’re meant to be making that decision, then everything will fall into place and you will find motivation.
So when it comes to my advice, it really is this simple: don’t wait for inspiration. Create your own.
I think that all too often we underestimate ourselves. We underestimate our ability to heal, to bounce back, to create, to transform. We spend too much time listening to and learning dis-empowering messages, and far too little time (if any) listening to our own inner worlds and realising what we, paradoxically, can teach ourselves.
This is from me to you…
You have the potential to discover and realise the life you want and deserve. Within you lies the answer to transforming your life. You have the innate ability to change – it’s just a matter of tapping into this potential within you and unleashing your own power. There is true beauty in who you are. It’s time to embrace that and all that it means for your reality.
Have you ever experienced one of those moments when everything just seems to fall into place? There’s that incredible feeling of balance and harmony, of everything being as it should be. I believe that you can create these moments and these circumstances in your own life.
Building on from my previous post, it’s clear that everything hinges on being true to yourself. You have a path in life that you should be walking – your true path – and this is where everything falls into place and life is as it should be. Although this is the natural direction of your life, there are all too many factors that will lead you in another direction, whether you’re aware of it or not. You need to be genuinely true to yourself in order to follow your true path, and experience a life where everything is as it should be.
That’s not to say that your true path is always the easiest. Or the clearest. But life does require effort, reflection and change in order for you to experience a transformation of your destiny. Some people talk about karma, others about energy, others still about religion. Regardless of your belief system, you should be behaving and making decisions that are true to you. As soon as you do this in a genuine manner, you will see the results. Things will appear in your life that will bring you love, joy, and abundance. It’s a miracle that you can create for yourself in your own life.
Too often in life we become complacent about the quality of our lives. It’s easy to blame other people, life events, and our circumstances. It’s easy to just accept that life is the way it is, and that’s the way it will always be. It’s easy to be in denial about the fact that you do deserve a better quality of life. It’s easy to ignore the fact that you are responsible for creating a life for yourself.
You need to shrug off that denial and look at your life head-on. You should be feeling happy, fulfilled, optimistic, and enthusiastic. Can you truly say that these are the core qualities of your life right now? Probably not. Life should not just be acceptable. Your life should not just be okay, or all right. You deserve more. You deserve a life that is completely permeated with a sense of joy. If this isn’t your life, then you need to do something about it.
Ignore those excuses that immediately spring to mind. Don’t shrug your shoulders as if you are powerless to change things around. Don’t be complacent. You know, deep down, what would define the life that you ultimately desire. And if you don’t know what that life looks like, then you’re in denial to the extent that you’ve lost a connection with yourself. It’s up to you to take the steps to transform your life into what it should be. Be true to yourself, and everything else will follow.
People are incredibly resilient. It’s amazing how, when you are faced with challenging circumstances, you can draw on reserves of inner strength that you never knew you had.
Even when you are faced with something that pushes you to your limits of emotional tolerance, you will somehow find the strength to endure it. There will be times when you feel that you cannot go on, that you cannot endure more, that you cannot possible shoulder what life is throwing at you, but you will go on, you will endure, and you will survive everything.
It is only when life threatens to destroy the sense of balance and safety in your life that you will realise just how strong you are. And you are strong. You are resilient. You will get through it, and emerge a stronger and more confident person as a result of the process.
All of us, at one time or another, seek motivation. We try to find that elusive something that will inspire us. All too often it is our mindset that makes motivation so elusive. If we are truly open to it, motivation will come to us from all kinds of sources.
There is such inspiration to be found in beautiful surroundings. We forget just how truly beautiful our world is, and neglect to see the vistas before us. I am lucky enough to live in South Africa, where there is every variety of natural beauty in our varying landscapes. For me, it is finding myself in inspiring surroundings that fosters creativity.
The combination of beauty and creativity in turn creates a relaxed ambiance, one where mindfulness is all the more likely to occur. It is in this way that I am encouraged to take each day as it comes, to be mindful of the moments that constitute every day. It is only through being mindful that I become appreciative of all the little blessings that are scattered throughout my life: the daily things for which I should be so grateful.
Pictures taken on a recent trip around the Western Cape region of South Africa.
“What I am suggesting is that each of us turn from the negativism that permeates our society and look for the remarkable good among those with whom we associate, that we speak of one another’s virtues more than we speak of one another’s faults, that optimism replace pessimism, that our faith exceed our fears. When I was a young man and was prone to speak critically, my father would say: ‘Cynics do not contribute, sceptics do not create, doubters do not achieve’.” – Gordon B. Hinckley
I find this quote to be incredibly inspiring. Although Hinckley was a religious leader, you do not have to subscribe to religion to see the importance of his message for all of humanity.
As his own father argued, society cannot grow and develop on the basis of cynicism, scepticism, or doubt. And I’m sure he was not just referring to material achievement in life. I think that it is so important for all of us to grow as people, to develop spiritually and emotionally as our lives progress. And, as Hinckley tells us, this is only possible through embracing an optimistic approach.
It is a sad truth that all too often we see the negative in others, focus on their faults, and adopt a pessimistic worldview that is essentially rooted in fear. There is so much more to life. There is so much more to live for. It is our core beliefs that create the lens through which we view the world. It is time to be positive. It is time to be gracious, forgiving and generous. It is time to create the environment in which we will all prosper, in all senses of the word.