Anxiety comes from worrying about something bad happening in the future.
But what if x happens?
Often, we’re not even sure what x is. It’s more like a vague, unspecific fear of some uncertain yet certainly bad thing occurring in the future.
So I pose to thee:
“Yeah, so what?”
What IF the big bad thing really happened?
Take the time to figure it out.
Short of physical death, what’s the absolute worst thing that could (realistically) happen?
That’s step one.
Step two is to be perfectly okay with whatever that outcome is.
If the worst thing comes to pass, you must be cool with it.
Let me tell you a quick story.
Last year I was in a desperate situation. My most recent business project that I had bet everything on crashed and burned. And I had less than one month to come up with several thousand dollars, from scratch.
I was in a constant state of something largely resembling panic for the better part of two weeks. “WHAT AM I GOING TO DO???!?!!?”
I kept reminding myself of my own principles: Nothing Bad Can Ever Occur, Trust In The Process, The Next Thing Is The Only Thing…
It worked – I managed to calm myself down for about 3 minutes before overwhelming anxiety engulfed me once more.
Let me tell you what really worked.
There’s this stream that I often pass when I walk my dog each day. One day, something compelled me to just stop and look at it. Into it. Often the water just calmly flows, easily, effortlessly. Sometimes, if there’s been rain, violent. But no matter what, it just kept on going, relentlessly.
After staring at the swirls in the stream for what must have been 15 or 20 minutes a day for a few days… something curious happened.
As I imagined the worst case scenario… if I didn’t manage to get the money in time, and everything just went to shit… what would the consequences actually be?
Yes, it would not be ideal. It would suck pretty bad. Lots of hard work would be thrown away. I’d be sad and maybe heartbroken. But in the end, I’d pretty much be back where I started. Square one, where I’ve been oh so many times. Square one is a good friend of mine, and maybe a fresh start wouldn’t be so bad, after all.
After a few days of visiting the stream, coming to respect the relentless nature of it all, reminding myself that no matter what, life just keeps on going…
I learned to become okay with the worst case scenario.
That was the critical turning point.
And during the following two days, I shit thee not, two clients materialized out of nowhere, the fees almost to the dollar covering what I needed.
Funny how life works sometimes.
Photo: a couple of motorcycle helmets at Patong Beach, Phuket, Thailand