Consumed by anxiety? No worries

“My life has been filled with terrible misfortune; most of which never happened.”  Michel de Montaigne

At any particular time, most of us feel anxious about something. Then, the problems we are experiencing are hugely important to us. One of the reasons we are so consumed by the worry or the problem, is that we are uniquely focused on the present. This is the reasoning behind the old suggestion that we ask ourselves whether these worries we have now will matter on our deathbeds, or in a decade or even in a week.

That is why I have found that a singular helpful piece of advice I have found helpful is to look backwards at times, rather than forwards. Because every problem we have ever had has been solved. That is not because we have stressed about it and that stress has made it go away either. For a recent study demonstrated that 85% of the things we get anxious about never happen.

We do tend to live in a constant state of anticipating the next potential anxiety-producing event. Despite the self-help advice often given to ‘live in the moment’, it is incredibly difficult to do so. It is actually easier to look back at previous worries and judge if our anxiety proved justified.

An interesting exercise to try, to prove if this is so, is each morning to make brief notes of what seems to be our biggest problem. As this list grows day by day then begin to look back at earlier entries to see how important they are now.

Another way to see our anxiety is to listen to what the philosopher Massimo Puglucci suggests. He shows how he uses Google Earth by zooming out from his house until we see the whole planet to show how we are a tiny part of the cosmos. He urges us to remember that and also suggests we should restrict ourselves to focus our thoughts and worries on what we can actually change.

So next time we toss and turn in our sleep about the latest things that are causing us stress, let’s remember that if they had ever happened, our lives would have been turned upside down.

Anxiety’s like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you very far.” ~Jodi Picoult


Ron Tustin

Revive and Thrive Coaching, Professional Coach.



Read more by Ron on GrownUps here.


Motivating baby boomers to see the world with fresh eyes.