All of us move through our day-to-day lives with some level of worry. Most people have very busy, fast-paced lives and it can be difficult to let go of the sense of urgency. We are constantly rushing through life, trying our best to get through the never-ending to-do list. To let go of worry and be at more peace, there are three things you need to do.
Trust is actually the opposite of fear. Fear is future-based, and it focuses on what could happen and what could go wrong. Anxiety and worry stems from fear, so to be more calm we need to reduce fear in our life.
If you trust that everything will work out, your fear will lessen. This can be hard to do because of times when things haven’t worked out for you. Through the times in your life when you experienced hurt, trauma and misfortune, you learned to fear.
You can start to shift your core belief that something bad will happen and trust that you can overcome adversity if you remember how you overcame it in the past. If you trust in your ability to be resilient and bounce back, you’ll know there’s nothing to fear because you have the ability to get through it. You’ve done it before. Remembering your inner strength will make a difference.
We all want to believe we have control over our lives and what happens to us. But the need to control tends to heighten the nervous system and cause fear-based thinking. People who try to control everything tend to be rigid and wound up. They typically over-plan and stick to a routine, which gives a false sense of safety because they’re usually afraid that things won’t go as planned.
The problem with control is that it feeds your lack of trust. To truly release fear, you need to let go of the reigns and surrender a little. When you let go of the need to control, start to notice how things turn out for you. Notice that you are still okay even though you are not controlling everything to be a certain way. In time, you will begin to trust that you can be calm (and even enjoy more of life) and things still work out.
Many of us jam our lives with things to do, and we forget how to be calm when our environment feels so frantic and rushed. But if you practice surrendering control and being okay with how things turn out, your nervous system will adjust and you will feel less anxious.
Learn by experience
Clients often come into my office wound up and burnt out, which typically leads to less sleep and irritability. I help them change their thoughts so they can be confident in their ability to let go and surrender their need to control. In order for long-term change to happen, I also use what’s called behavioural experiments with my clients.
Human beings learn through experience, so if you want to change your thoughts and bad habits, you need to put yourself in situations where you have to let go and trust.
I want you to try a behavioural experiment. What if you were to let go of your to-do list for one day? At first you may feel a little lost. If this comes up, breathe deep. Let your nervous system unwind. Try to let go and enjoy the day as is. You may even feel a little freedom. As the day comes to an end, you will learn that you can surrender a little in life. When you don’t try to control everything and spend the day rushing around, you actually make space for things to flow with more ease.
Another experiment I like to have my clients try is to pick a scenario where they intentionally don’t do something perfectly. This can be really helpful for those who tend to be perfectionists. You could let your house get messy, don’t filter what you say or show up to dinner with a friend a little late. It’s important that when trying these behavioural experiments you prepare for them with a psychotherapist. This way you are equipped with coping skills and relaxation techniques to get you through.
To learn and change, you need to create situations like this where you can practice letting go and having trust. Experience is key to help you learn deeply and shift your habits.
These three approaches will help you learn that you can let go, worry less, and enjoy more.