How can I stop stressing about the future?

How can I stop stressing about the future?
Happy New Year! Made plans yet? Any big goals?
 
Here’s your first Q&A Monday and this is the Q: „How can I stop stressing about the future?“
 
As usual, the answer is learning to use your brain. You see, this type of stress is self-made and can be self-healed. You just need a little practice. 
 

How you stress yourself.

Remember the last time you felt stressed. Or sad. Or angry. Do you remember what you were thinking? Our emotions are caused by our thoughts. That’s why two people in the exact same situation might feel very differently about what’s going on simply because they’re thinking differently about it.
You might know the situation: You’re in a meeting with your team, the big boss wants to get an update and asks challenging questions. Maybe some of you feel offended („How dare he question our approach?“), others feel insecure („Oh, why didn’t we think of that before, we must be doing a bad job.“) and others might even thrive of the conversation („Finally someone with a critical view that can help us improve on our approach!“).
Whether you feel stressed about your future or not depends entirely on how you think about it. 
 

Check your thoughts.

To warm up a little, try on the following sentences and see how they make you feel:
 
I need to know precisely how the year will go. The unexpected little twist is what makes life interesting.
I’m not sure I’ll enjoy the first quarter, it seems hectic. Let’s see what elements of fun this brings.
It’ll be so hard and require a lot of work. If I put in my best effort, even the hard stuff will come easy at some point.
How can I control the future? How can I control what I do in this moment?
Will I be able to cope with all of that? I’ll deal with hard issues when the time comes.
       
As you may have noticed, you feel very different emotions depending on what thought you choose to adopt.
 

The future is unwritten.

There are very clever people that research the future. And they seem to get better with their predictions. But truth to be told, no one can tell you with 100% certainty what will happen ten years from now. In fact, we often don’t know what will happen 5 minutes from now. So you can make the story about your future a good one or a bad one. Both are equally likely to happen when you tell your brain that this is what you expect. But one of them will make you feel good, the other will make you feel stressed.
 

Painting it rosy?

So are you supposed to dream of rainbows and daisies and set yourself up for disappointment? Surely not. It’s not about painting rosy pictures, but about stopping to paint everything black. After all, hope is something we do, not something we have (click here to read more about that).
 
Have a great week!
Nicole
 
PS: Got a question you’d like me to answer? Click here to submit it.
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