How Worrying Can Get the Best of Us

Don't Let Yourself Get Stuck In The Future
Girl thinking about future with worrisome scribble near her head

As humans, we tend to worry. We worry about what might happen tomorrow, next week, or maybe even later today. If we draw breath, we’re susceptible to worrying.

While none of us are alone in the worry-wart business, worrying is unique to mankind and to the future. We don’t worry about what happened in the past, only the effect of those events on the future. I also don’t believe we humans will ever be free from worrying; rather, managing worry appears to be the challenge.

Sometimes our worries are well-founded. They prompt us to take action – hopefully positive action – to reduce, redirect, or even eliminate potential negative outcomes in the future, and that's not a bad thing!

What is bad is when our worries drive us to fear, inaction, reaction, or violence in thought, word or deed, or all the above. At times we allow our worries to get the best of us. When that happens, we get stuck in the future.

We’ve all been stuck in the past a time or two. This is different than reminiscing, when we may try to recapture a special feeling or relive a moment but realize we can never go back. When we’re stuck in the past, we are unable to move on from what is often an unhealthy place. I can sit and reminisce about “the good old days,” but that’s all in the rearview mirror and a hundred miles behind me. Those days will never be lived again, other than in memories to be remembered and appreciated from afar, to teach the lessons we need both today and tomorrow.

Getting stuck in the future can be just as debilitating as being stuck in the past. The difference is the future we imagine and worry about may never come to pass, but it still drives us.

Instead of letting the past or the future overwhelm us, let’s focus on being content with living in the present – smelling today’s roses; feeling today’s pain; embracing today’s pleasures; being in the moment. I admit that I find it difficult to do this on a consistent basis, but I’ve come to realize and appreciate that I have a place in this world and what I do today, right now, makes a difference both now AND in the future.

So, I’m beginning to learn to relax in a traffic jam, be comfortable in a slow check-out line at the grocery store, and revel in knowing that taking just one step at a time will just as assuredly get me to my destination as running will, as long as I just keep on taking one step after the other.

John Trombley

John Trombley retired from The Village  in 2019. He has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Alaska, Anchorage, and a Master of Management degree from the University of Mary, Fargo where he serves as an adjunct faculty member. He is a motivational speaker with over 20 years of experience in providing training programs and consulting services in a wide variety of organization development scenarios. John is registered with the Supreme Court of the State of Minnesota as a Qualified Neutral mediator under ADR Rule 114, and is also certified in Internal Investigations by the Council on Education in Management.

Previously, John served as a Command Pilot, Squadron Commander and senior staff officer in the USAF and Air National Guard, and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel with over 6,200 flying hours.

Download John’s FREE E-Book: The Seven Benefits of Mediation

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