Have you ever found yourself worrying and getting overwhelmed, anxious or nervous about something looming over your head in the future? A dreaded test, a difficult decision, a scary, pivotal turning point in your life where you find yourself entirely out of your comfort zone and wondering what the hell you’re doing there? Of course you have. We all have. BUT did you do everything in your power to get your desired results? Did you try your hardest and are now just in that weird in-between period we like to refer to as, “The waiting game?”
We’ve all found ourselves in moments of panic, distressing about what’s ahead of us and fearing the unknown.
We’ve all found ourselves wracked with nerves and wondering if we’ve made the right decisions, asking ourselves if things are going to work out and stressing endlessly about the “what ifs,” running countless scenarios throughout our minds. And if you’ve ever suffered from anxiety, you know too well that this can be unbearable, debilitating even.
But, and I mean this seriously, why worry? Why give more than a passing thought or an ounce of energy more than necessary to the ‘what ifs’ that are out of your control?
I was never a good student. Okay, that’s not true, I was a great student but in terms of studying long hours or freaking out about grades, well, I never quite mastered this aspect of school. As I would watch people panic, cramming the last few minutes before an exam, I would go in telling myself, “You either know it, or you don’t” and guess what? I generally did pretty well. I’m not saying this to sound conceited or stand on any sort of pedestal, but I didn’t stress. I stayed calm and realised there were two outcomes. Either I do well, or I don’t. At that point why worry myself to exhaustion, and drive myself insane in the process? Up until that point I did what I could. I did my best and tried my hardest. And it usually worked out pretty well.
When I first moved to Spain from the United States at the end of summer in 2015, I was terrified. I didn’t speak the language, I didn’t know anyone, and I knew even less about the country I now called “home”. I had never been away from my roots for such an extended period of time, my life had never been so uncertain, and I immediately became engulfed by the panic setting in at the unbridled unknown before me. Soon, I began to picture all of the worst possible scenarios: I would have no friends, I wouldn’t be able to connect with anybody, I would NEVER learn the bus routes, I’d run out of money, my students wouldn’t like me etc.
My train of horrible thoughts was endless. And I was quickly driving the coach straight into my deepest corners of depression.
This was my anxiety screaming at me, wiggling and worming its way into my ear. But you know what? Soon enough, I ended up having the best year of my entire life. Not only had I made some of my best friends that I still see to this day, but I also travelled nearly every weekend. I picked up a new language and began to understand the chatter around me, and I fell in love with a new place I never thought I’d find myself. I had allowed myself endless hours of worrying and for what? To initially drive people away, to hide myself from all the wonderful experiences I eventually found myself enjoying when I just stopped stressing and let life happen.
And then sometimes it doesn’t work out. Sometimes the worst happens. When my dad was diagnosed with cancer in 2010, he never once waivered in his positivity. He always assumed the best. We never even discussed the ultimate or the possibility of not beating this, of not surviving. Why? Because what’s the point of worrying when the only thing you can do, the only thing in your power is fighting back and maintaining your strength?
My dad ended up passing away 4 years after his diagnosis in the early spring of 2014. But do you think those four years would’ve better been spent worrying about possible death? Or living every day in fear and letting himself succumb to a disease which he had no power over? No. Instead he lived laughing, telling himself and all those around them he would beat this. And he did, for four years he fought, he survived, and while his body may have given out, he lived.
Preparation isn’t bad. Being a realist isn’t a naughty allegation.
However, when one can either choose to live in the light and put all of their energy and strength into the better of the two options, why would you choose to walk down the path of darkness and sink deeply into a hole of despair?
The power of positive thinking is easy to dismiss as some self-help trifle, but it’s a very real thing. We all know the placebo effect and the capacity our minds play into the way we feel or our mental well-being. For some, those who suffer from depression or anxiety, it might not always be as easy to choose this path, but positive thinking is always something we should try to incorporate into our lives.
We’ve all heard it, we’ve all probably whistled or hummed it at some point, but to put it plainly and in the simplest of terms…
“Don’t worry, be happy.”