Leo Buscaglia – professor, author, and motivational speaker – also known as Dr. Love once said, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”
Worry is a natural part of the human condition and involves using our imagination to visualize the future. It’s a survival mechanism deeply ingrained in our brain that we use to anticipate potential dangers and develop ways to avoid them. Sounds like a wonderful thing right? To some extent, it is useful as it prompts action. It helps us stay alert to possible threats, make plans, and double-check that we thought of everything before we go on a vacation.
But what if you’re so preoccupied with “what ifs” and worst-case scenarios, that you lose touch with reality, your friends, your life, and yourself?
If worry becomes overwhelming, paralyzing and toxic, it becomes a problem in itself. Unlike the type of worry that spurs you into action and uses your imagination in a positive and constructive way, this type of worry is sneaky and unrelenting. It leaves you feeling drained, sends your anxiety levels soaring, steals your happiness and makes you dread the future.
Let’s look at both imagination and worry a little bit closer. At their core, they are very similar as they both use your ability to visualize the future. But whereas imagination leaves you feeling empowered and energized, worry leaves you feeling drained, anxious and stressed.
Imagination is about envisioning possibilities with the intention of finding solutions or creating new things. Worry is about seeing obstacles and overthinking scenarios that might happen.
Imagination is seeing opportunities in a difficult situation and finding the light in the darkness. Worry is turning opportunities into problems and possibilities into threats. It is thinking about and visualizing exactly the things that you don’t want to happen. But why would you do that?
From an evolutionary standpoint, we, human species prefer certainty over uncertainty. When faced with the unknown, we experience an uncomfortable tension between our need for control and the – uncertain – reality. Worry then, gives us a false sense of control and is used as a way to deal with the uncertain situation. As long as we worry, we think we can control the outcome.
The truth is, you can’t control the universe, nor predict the future, but you can control how you react to situations. In order to stop excessive worrying, you must give up your belief that it serves a positive purpose and realize worrying is the problem, not the solution.
Look at each day as an opportunity to let your mind explore the beautiful possibilities that lie ahead and visualize your heart’s desires.
When you choose to shift your thoughts from fear to hope, and from worry to imagination, the possibilities are endless.
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