After another week of absorbing turbulent news it feels as though the world has some enormous worries right now. We have empathy for the people who have this taking place in their hometowns and wary about it creeping closer to home.
But after a while, we switch off the tragedies on TV, return to our normal lives, and get back to stressing about insignificant things going on in our own smaller worlds. Flapping around about minor goings-on in our lives, when at the same time, people around the world are going through so much worse.
It doesn’t come natural for us to stop and get a bit of perspective when we are stressing out about something little that’s happening to us. You only have to witness me trying to get my kids ready for school in the morning, particularly when one of their shoes has mysteriously disappeared, to see that even I have not mastered the art of this yet.
Let’s face it, much of the worry we have are not catastrophes, but rather the little things that get on top of us.
We have a presentation at work that we deem so stressful that we can’t sleep. We growl at our kids for leaving their toys on the floor. We nag our partners for leaving their wet towels scrunched over the bathtub. We get sulky when we don’t get a text back. We pressure our kids to get perfect marks. We repeat something stupid we said over and over in our minds.
When really, if we look at the big picture, none of it matters. And none of these small things would be noticed if something bigger was happening in our lives that we had to deal with.
That’s why often people who have been through some sort of adversity speak of the lessons that emerge for them after going through hardship. One of the life lessons, among many, is that they no longer sweat the small stuff. Whether it’s a loss, a diagnosis, a battle, a tragedy or a natural disaster, the experience has almost forced them to see what is important.
And the learnings have often changed their mindset significantly, to the point that their life has taken a more positive direction.
The thing about worry, fear and anxiety is that they have a way of tricking us into believing that our issue is enormous. They make us stop and be more attentive to them. Then our emotions get wrapped up in all of it so it feels like a threat to our very survival. It’s hard to see outside of our problems.
Small stuff, in the moment, often feels like the big stuff.
Getting a handle on excessive worry over little things will not only lead to improved resilience but better emotional health. It's likely that we all will have to go through some sort of adversity at some point in our lives, and living a dress rehearsal every day until it happens will wear us out.
If you’re going to worry about the small stuff, then try and problem solve it somehow. Action some of the worry; worrying does nothing unless you do something about it. If you don’t do something about it you will find that you will keep finding more things to worry about. And the more you worry about those things, the more you are going to have more to worry about. The self-fulfilling prophecy is sneaky like that.
Remember that it’s your perception of the problem that dictates your worry. You are the one assigning meaning to your worry. When you are next panicking or worrying about something, stop and think about it. Is this going to matter in 1 year, 10 years or 20 years?
It’s likely its not.
As Tony Robbins once said ‘…most people fail in life because they major in minor things’. So get your major in something else that’s more rewarding.