How should one stop worrying about the future and start living happily?
I was a professional ‘worrier’. I was always troubled, tense, and nervous, but eventually found a solution in meditation. Today I’m happy, and I don’t worry much. Below, I share my story and insights.
First, I want to say that worries are not bad. Worries and troubles are an opportunity for us to grow, because they make us desperate to seek for a change within. This was the case for me. I worried about every single little thing, and that drove me crazy. I had so much anxiety, constantly catastrophizing about every single little event or choice that I had to make.
Since my life was so painful, I tried many different things to find peace within. I read self-help books, went to numerous therapy sessions, different boot-camps and retreats. I also tried to improve my environment by changing jobs, learning new skills, and meeting new people. Yet, nothing of this provided any solution for me. I felt discouraged and thought that there must be something wrong with me. However, later I came to realize that my problem was that I didn’t understand the underlying mechanisms of a worrying mind.
It wasn’t until I started to meditate that I finally got a handle on my constant worries. When I meditated, it suddenly clicked in my mind; I had found the key. I finally understood the problem.
Worries are essentially one or both of these things:
- The subconscious mind of inferiority (the underlying thought-pattern that I’m not good enough, or that I can’t make it)
- The subconscious mind of greed/wants (the underlying mind that always looks for more, that is never satisfied).
Inferiority makes us believe that we won’t be able to handle the situations that life throws at us. This makes us nervous and tense. In addition, we often also strive to compensate for our inferiority by trying to be the best or having very high expectations of ourselves, which in turn makes it difficult for us to relax.
I put greed as a separate bullet point, but it is actually also an aspect of inferiority. Greed makes us believe that we constantly must have more and reach higher, otherwise we are failed as individuals. With this mind, we are never content and always lacking, and we make a big deal out of failing or when things don’t go according to plan.
So, with inferiority and greed in our minds, we are very prone to worrying. We take ourselves unhealthily seriously. It is impossible to live a happy life under these conditions. The solution is to free our mind from these root causes. How can we do that?
- Don’t resist it.
As a worrier, you are in a constant inner conflict with yourself. Since we don’t want to experience the worry (we want to be cool, right?), we label it as “wrong”, and subconsciously deny it and try to push it away. Acting in this way is not helpful at all. On the contrary, it means that we stay in, and even increase, our suffering; it’s not possible to let go of the worries if we deny it to ourselves.
Instead of suppressing and denying the worries, allow them. Instead of labelling them as wrong or undesirable, just let them hit you. Worry as much as you can. Embrace the worries. Love the worries. Allow every catastrophic scenario to play itself out in the mind. Allow yourself to go crazy. By changing your attitude like this, you will start to let go of that inner resistance. It will be easier for you to see your mind and you will also stop being scared of your negative thoughts.
As you allow the worries like this, you will begin to see them from a different perspective, and you will discover that they are just expressions of your deeply rooted inferiority and greed. When you start to see this, you are ready to go deeper. Admit to yourself that you have a lot of inferiority and greed, and let those minds come up. You’ll be amazed of how self-centered the mind is. It constantly revolves around the ‘self’.
As you do this, you will gradually start to accept all aspects of yourself, also the dark and undesirable ones. This is very liberating, and will automatically lessen your burdens because you no longer have anything to hide from yourself.
2. Start meditating
Put simply, the reason why we worry is because we hold worries, stemming from inferiority and greed, in our mind. The only definite solution is to clear the mind from them. I recommend that you start a regular meditation practice that allows you to empty your mind.
Meditation is a very enlightening and grateful process. As I meditated, I started to see myself from a new perspective, from which I was able to root out inferiority and greed. I gradually changed. I became content and happy. I accepted that I couldn’t control everything, I developed a trust in that things happen for the best, and I stopped comparing myself with others. The things that used to be so ‘important’, weren’t anymore. I realized that I had lived inside a drama that only I cared about. So dumb and futile!
Since then, my life has become much easier, more joyful, and less dramatic. I focus on my things, but I can also ask for help when I need it. I can appreciate others without being jealous, and I work more effectively and can handle problems in a wise and sober way. I just live today, and don’t worry about tomorrow.
It’s important to remember that this is a process (like everything else in life). Meditation is something we need to do over an extended period of time because our mind is so deep-layered. Although being tedious from time to time, the process is beautiful because we get to know ourselves well. We also have many realizations about life and the world. It is very humbling and leads to personal growth and wisdom.
Looking back at it, I can see that my worried mind led me here. For that I’m very grateful. I can see how everything comes together beautifully.