Have you heard of the quote: “I AM AN OLD MAN AND HAVE KNOWN A GREAT MANY TROUBLES, MOST OF WHICH NEVER HAPPENED” -MARK TWAIN
The quote is essentially calling out the internal process that we all sometimes experience where we imagine, and ultimately feel, the stress caused by running tormenting scenarios that never come to fruition. Our brains can’t tell the difference between what’s real and what’s not (see this link for some fascinating research on the topic) so the stress feels as real as if it was actually happening.
Mark Twain’s quote is something I turn to a lot in times of swirling thoughts and worries. Often these times occur at night when I should be enjoying sleep, as happened the other night. So what can we do to reduce that worry? I find journaling immensely beneficial and also calendaring the actions I can take the following day.
A list of worries
But how about those worries that play on repeat? Those deeply ingrained stories that we have floating around? My tip here is to make a Worry List. You can keep it in a notebook, in the back of your journal, or in digital notes. Jot down everything that is worrying you and pop it aside, it becomes a reference list. Something I find interesting to do is to revisit this when I’m next worrying, and reflect if the worries have changed or not. They often haven’t.