Have you ever woken in the midst of a beautiful night’s sleep and just been drifting off again when some inane silly little thought flits across your mind? And another linked thought comes to join in and soon you find yourself off on a train of thought that takes you to all the places that you really don’t want to go. So many people, myself included, talk of the ridiculous and outrageous thoughts that don’t only keep you awake at four o’clock in the morning – they scare the living daylights out of you. From a small thought like “What if I don’t get that job – or that new client?” to “What if I can’t afford to pay next month’s mortgage?” to “What if we lose our house?” our minds appear to be almost pre-set on worry.

I recently had a client ask me if I work with children – when I replied that I did, I was invited to work with their seven-year-old – who was, in their own words, “a great little worrier”. When I jokingly enquired “I suppose he’s worried about the swine flu pandemic!” I was answered in the affirmative! My response was that they needed to stop encouraging him with phrases like “you’re a great little worrier” and that there would be no point in my talking to him – at seven years of age he isn’t plagued by the random thoughts that weigh heavily on the adult mind, he wouldn’t understand just how corrosive worry is – and just how illusionary. It’s only the adult that’s seriously compromised by worry and, sooner or later, we all fall into that category.

Our adult minds are pre-set on worry. Research in the US indicates that, left totally isolated with no means of distraction, the average adult will degenerate into a negative heap of worry within approximately thirteen hours. As a normal adult, you have approximately 50,000 random thoughts whizzing through your head every single day – and you’re most likely to settle your attention on the negative random thoughts – every silver lining has a cloud! Generally speaking, these thoughts do not relate to what is actually taking place in the moment, some are completely random, some are the result of deep-seated preconceptions that we have of life since our formative years. All of them take us away from the only time and place that we have – the reality of the here and now.

I could write a whole book to debate whether, when you devote your energy to worrying about something, that that investment of energy makes what you’re worrying about more likely to happen. I’m not sure that it does – and I’m not sure that it doesn’t. But it’s really a moot point because there are more pressing and immediate consequences of worry. First and foremost, worrying renders you ineffective in relation to what you’re supposed to be doing now. So, if you’re worried about being fired, that thought will divert your energy from what you’re supposed to be doing – and you may just prove yourself right! When we focus our energy on worry, we become unfocused in the present moment. It is only in the present moment that you can make anything of your life so each moment you waste on worry is a unique opportunity in your life that will never, ever be repeated. This is the biggest problem with worry – effectively, you’re wasting your energy in a negative world of your own making. If there are real and pressing problems that should command your attention, far better that you take action to address those problems than render yourself inactive, pessimistic, fearful and anxious through useless thoughts that only make matters worse. In addition, chronic worry can lead to depression and a whole range of health problems. But, in focusing on the key concern that worry stops you living, acting and taking life’s opportunities in the present moment, I am suggesting that you nip worry in the bud.

In order to do that, you need to learn how to pay attention to what you are experiencing in the here and now – not what you are thinking. You experience the reality of the moment through your five senses. In stark contrast, worry is a construct of your own mind that has nothing to do with the present moment. You need to awaken to the reality of now – or, to put it another way, wake up from the nightmare that you, yourself have created. Trying to experience the present moment when you’re buried in worry will simply not work. You need to start re-training yourself to experience what your five senses are telling you adding none of your own warped interpretations, taking nothing away. I say “re-learn” because, as I mentioned earlier, children are not plagued by useless thought (unless encouraged to do so) and are, therefore, expert at experiencing the here and now using their five senses. You were once a child – pure experience of the reality of the present moment will come to you naturally.

As I said, you can’t start practicing when you’re in the midst of your daily round of worries. What I would suggest is that you start each and every day with five minutes of sensory experience. This should be done sitting down – initially with your eyes closed (it is far more difficult to simply focus on the present moment with your eyes open). Your task is then to simply notice what you hear, feel, smell and taste – with particular emphasis on hearing and feeling. In taking this small step you set yourself out on a journey to a clearer, more focused mind – one that will, in time, become disciplined enough to say a big resounding “NO” to the thoughts that lead to worry when they come knocking on your door.

Author's Bio: 

Willie Horton, an Irish ex-accountant and ex-banker who has been working as a success coach to business leaders and sports people since 1996, has been living his dream in the French Alps since 2002. Each week his weekly Free Self-Help Video Seminar is received by thousands of people around the world. His acclaimed Self Help Online Workshop is being followed by people on four continents - they say that it's life-changing. More info: http://www.gurdy.net