That thing that kept you awake last night… was it worth it? Did all that time you spent “thinking” put even the slightest of dents in the problem?
I’ll save you your breath – it didn’t. And I’ll go further: Never in the entire history of the human race has worrying helped anyone. Ever.
Noticing genuine danger and acting on it? Most definitely. Sabre-toothed tigers would have wiped us out a long, long ago without that.
But sitting and worrying about something? Always a bad thing.
What we habitually call “thinking” is anything but…
Real “thinking” is using your unique human intelligence to actively connect the dots, to compare and contrast, to entertain different ideas… creativity, basically.
But that’s not what we’re usually doing when we think we’re thinking.
What we’re actually doing is passively watching a handful of worries go round and round like carriages on a model railway set. One worry leads to the next, which leads to the next, until the first one comes back around.
It’s a cycle, and we can either wallow in it, or break it.
Take the power back
If something is bothering you – and if you’re anything like me, something is always bothering you – you don’t have to let it bother you for another second. You can do something about it.
You think that worrying is something you have no power over. Even worse, you think that the worries are true – that they are real pieces of information. They’re not. They’re just your mind fucking with you.
Worrying is not one of life’s necessities. It’s a choice. And it’s a cycle.
Grab a notepad
When you next find yourself worrying about something – you’ll know that you’re worrying because a thought will keep recurring, and it won’t feel good every time it pops up – grab a notepad and write down anything
Anything that comes to you is useful, even – especially – things that don’t make literal sense at this moment in time. Don’t worry about grammar, don’t worry about sentences, don’t worry about insulting people you love… put it on the page.
Read it back, slowly. And then burn it. Or throw it away.
What does this do?
Your mind is for having ideas, not for holding them, as David Allen would say, and the more worries you are carrying around with you, the less space your mind has.
But when you get this shit out of your head and onto paper, you are freeing your mind to do what it is its nature to do… to think.
This exercise will not solve all your problems – you have to do that – but it will do two things. Firstly, it will put you in a much better position to be able to think of solutions to your problems. And secondly, it will help you realise how many of your “problems” weren’t problems at all.
PS: There are a few articles and interviews that I come back to every few months. This interview with John Frusciante about music and mental health is one of them.