Worry is generated from a fear of the unknown. When we don’t feel in control and we want to do more to influence a situation, we often employ worry as a means of mentally directing how something is going to go. We question what-if in every angle to feel as though we will be prepared. We are looking for proof that things are going to work out, and we try to safeguard ourselves when we fear they won’t.
What is fascinating is that we spend an incredible amount of time filling our heads with anticipatory anxiety, and then we are pleasantly surprised or completely relieved that our fears did not come to fruition.
Worry is a habit of thinking. That’s it. Most of us have been trained to worry by our parents and care-givers from an early age, or we’ve somehow developed a belief that life can’t be trusted and, even worse, that our senses and feelings can’t be trusted, because what if we are wrong?
This is why turning around and looking for proof can be helpful in curbing current and future worry. Writing a letter to your younger self to give yourself advice, encouragement, and understanding allows you to see not only how far you’ve come, but also how important all those lessons were, the ones you deemed positive as well as the ones you felt have challenged you.
When I wrote this letter, it was eye-opening to see just how much I’ve changed. Taking risks, being uncomfortable, and shaking up my old patterns have been some of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. Writing to my younger self, who worked diligently to balance her old worry habits along with engaging with her new pal, Faith, deserved to know that her tears and frustration would lead her to new heights she had yet to see.
I wanted her to know that the dedication she felt in her bones was important and she would reap the benefits even though the darkness looked awfully daunting for a while. I wanted her to know she was sup-ported and not alone. It felt great to write and even better to confirm one of my core beliefs: everything always works out.
Now it’s your turn.
Isn’t it great to know that most of what you obsess and worry over rarely comes to fruition? And like most people, you are looking for proof of this fact. Luckily, that proof is available. When you turn around and look back at the times you worried and questioned the future, where you made all your predictions of what could go wrong, how often did those fears come to be? I know. Barely ever.
And even the ones that did, what gain came from them? What positive outcome came from what you believed was going to be life-shatteringly negative? And how much time and sleep did you lose swimming in the fear of what would never come to be rather than appreciating what is real and valid now in the present moment?
When you look back again at those challenging times in your life that were heart wrenching and painful, would you have chosen them if you knew they were going to happen? Maybe or maybe not.
If you knew the painful parts and outcomes of all the decisions and events in your life that were meant to help you grow, you could easily choose to avoid all the discomfort that leads you to even more sustainable joy and happiness. However, you would lose the opportunities that taught you your greatest strengths and allowed you to face even more fears to become the most courageous version of yourself.
This is a great opportunity to look at your past and remind yourself how your experiences have mold-ed you into the amazing person you are now. Not only is it a great practice to remind you now, but also it’s a great reminder for the future you. No matter what happens next, you’ve got this.
Letter to Younger Self
Think of all the time you’ve spent worrying about things that never came to fruition, while holding your breath hoping life would get easier. In truth, no matter how much time you spend worrying, generally everything works out.
Write your younger self (five years younger or even six months) a letter. Give yourself all the advice you wish you knew and share the wonderful things you’ve learned.
What brought you joy, whether intentional or unexpected? What was meaningful and special about today? Did you live in the flow or resist? How did you live serendipitously?