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Worrying About How Things Can Go Wrong, Doesn't Help Things Go Right

Don't fret about what might (and therefore might not) happen. Deal with what does happen.
Don't fret about what might (and therefore might not) happen. Deal with what does happen.

I witnessed a near miss collision between two cars this morning, which got me thinking. It was such close call, I honestly don't know how paint jobs weren't exchanged, but everyone went about their day after a couple of angry blasts of a car horn. So how did this all inspire me to write about it?

Well, as a recovering overthinker, I still occasionally have to catch myself on when I habitually try to figure out every conceivable outcome of a challenge. What I then have to do instead is mindfully remember to trust myself, because I know I can deal with anything. And how do I know this? Because I always have; and so have you, haven't you?

Think about the near miss I witnessed this morning. There but for the grace of God went any of us. Some of us have even had the prangs, or worse, to deal with; but we did deal with them, is my point. Worrying about the possibility of a collision may rightfully make us more careful drivers, but it's not going to prevent someone else's error in judgement or recklessness. All we can do is our best in each moment. If something doesn't fall within our circle of control or influence, it shouldn't be allowed to take up head space, because that's just self abuse.

So we climb into our cars to get from A to B - however long or short that journey may be - but none of us overthink about what could happen with every single other vehicle on the road. Of course we plan our longer, less familiar routes. We take extra provisions and make extra allowances for challenging driving conditions, but we don't try to second guess what Vehicle #1 to Vehicle #1000 will do, whilst sharing the same stretch of road as us. What we do instead is fall back on our training and experience.


We know that we have passed our driving test. We know we have X number of years driving experience, often in adverse weather and road conditions. We know from those experiences that we can pretty much handle a near miss, or even a prang, and then get on with our lives, one way or another. So, fellow Overthinkers, why not adopt this model for your life overall? Rather than overthink everything to the nth degree, causing cognitive stress and anxiety in the process, why not fall back on the certain knowledge you can handle anything, because you always have?

If you're driving down a road and a cat runs out in front of you, you know instinctively what to do; you swerve or slow down or stop. If, like this morning, someone in the wrong lane pulls out too slowly on a roundabout, and then changes direction erratically, you may fiercely invoke the heavens above, but you'll also take avoiding action automatically. It's unlikely however, prior to leaving home, you would have given any thought to the colour of the predicted cat or errant car, the swear words you'd mutter, or precisely where these events would occur. All you know is, if it happens it happens and you'll handle it. So why overthink other aspects and challenges in your life?

Every time you get into your car, you trust yourself to deal with whatever may come on the journey. You don't spend time predicting every variable of what might happen, you just deal with what does happen. All you need to do now is apply this exact same confidence and instinct to your life at large. Think of all the head space, angst and anxiety you'll spare yourself, simply by trusting in your own innate ability to survive and manage whatever may come. Take comfort and confidence in your established frames of reference, which you can always draw upon going forward.

Remember who you are in the first instance, and recall all that you've survived in the past. Let's be real. who amongst us can say our past lives have been perfectly painless and pristine up until now? Of course none of us can. We've all had life shifts that have hit the fan, but it's in the struggle to master these shifts, that we grow into who we must eventually be. It's the survival of these experiences that we can now use to shape whatever happens next, into a favourable outcome.


To validate my point, and if you're so inclined, write a list of every major negative lift shift that's hit your world; for as far back as you want to go. Now with brutal honesty (because you'll only be cheating yourself otherwise), write down all of the positive outcomes that resulted, directly and indirectly, from those negative experiences. If you give it enough time and thought, and you're brutally honest, you'll be amazed. Think about how you have survived and mastered the (often unforeseen) crap you've encountered. What did you do? You did what you had to do, and here you are.

Now tell me, what makes you think you can't do that again and again in your future? Are you going to download your memories, character, personality, experience and training onto a thumb drive someplace, and start all over again with an entirely empty head? Of course you're not. You're a walking, talking, living, breathing library of experience, talent, learned skills and wisdom, which you can apply to anything and everything that'll ever happen to you in future; so you can rest easy. Do you now see why it's so totally unnecessary to overthink? You've already got this!

That's not to say you don't have to work hard, try and engage with your life as thoroughly as possible. You still have to put the effort in, because you won't get the results out otherwise. But you do not have to fret about every tiny variable: What if X happens? What if Y doesn't happen? What if the moon's a balloon? Plan as best you can in broad strokes of course, but you do not need to second guess the minutiae of everything.

Remember, worrying about how things can go wrong, doesn't help those things to go right, but your instinct, decisions and actions until now have successfully kept you alive enough to read this, so why would they desert you now?

Trust yourself, please. You have everything you need.

Karan x


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