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How Mindfulness Helped me Overcome Chronic Worrying

“I was no longer willing to lose peace to chronic worrying. There was so much life to live and happiness to experience, and letting myself continue to be swept away by worries was something I was no longer willing to do.”

Struggled with:
Chronic worry

Hello! Who are you?

Hi! I am Nevin. I am passionate about living well and pursuing joy. My pleasures and hobbies include running, traveling, reading, and finding delightful restaurants and coffee shops.

I am a recent graduate from Texas Christian University. I currently live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and I work for a software company. In addition, I am a writer and manage a personal brand that helps people improve their well-being and live joyfully.

I consider myself to be a happy person! I think there is certainly room to improve, but I work hard to create habits that support my mental well-being. I love growing and finding ways to sustain happiness. It’s certainly a rewarding journey!

What is your struggle and when did it start?

My struggle was chronic worry. I’d worry about all things related to my health and well-being.

This started in my teenage years. I have always been interested in health and living a healthy lifestyle. I saw the value in this and considered health to be paramount for living life fully. While this is true, it caused me to over-fixate on making sure things were perfect.

Because of this, I was highly sensitive to anything that could cause worry. My threshold for what would cause me concern was very low, and I found myself stressing for hours or days about super-minor things.

The worst part was that the worrying would cause me to miss out on the good things that were happening during the periods when I was worried. Great experiences would be tainted by my worries and stress, and I wasn’t able to let go, relax, and immerse myself. This was also hugely frustrating!

How did this struggle make you feel at your worst moments?

I felt like I had no control. It seemed as though I had no power over my mind and feelings. I don’t mean that in a dramatic, hopeless sort of way, but I was just so frustrated. I knew that the things I worried about were silly, yet I still found myself quite concerned.

I kept this quiet. Generally, I am a happy person. This is how others know me and expect me to act. So, in the moments when I was down, it was hard to show my true feelings. Perhaps this was a mix of not wanting to bring others down as well as just not wanting to open up to some people. Either way, it was definitely a bit isolating, even just internally.

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Was there a moment when you started to turn things around?

I struggled with this for about six years at differing intensities. There were times when I was peaceful for a while and worries were kept at bay. And there were other periods where I’d be anxious quite often.

I recently read a book by Tony Robbins where he said something along the lines of this: we only change when our current ways cause us enough pain that we decide we are no longer willing to live that way.

Though I read this long after I had turned things around, this is exactly what happened. I was lying in bed on a particular evening and was unable to sleep because I was worried. I realized right then and there how much my worries were affecting my life.

There’s something so clearly frustrating about not being able to sleep. You just want to sleep, but can’t seem to do it. And this moment’s frustration and overwhelm allowed me to see that there would be so much more peace and joy if I could beat the worrying.

So many peaceful moments had been replaced with worry. I knew there had to be a better way.

I decided that I was no longer willing to lose peace to chronic worrying. There was so much life to live and happiness to experience, and letting myself continue to be swept away by worries was something I was no longer willing to do.

What steps did you take to overcome your struggle?

First and foremost, mindfulness is a powerful tool to beat feelings of stress and worry. By controlling my breathing and getting better at staying in the moment, I found more clarity and serenity. Best of all, this produced effects super quickly. If I found myself worrying, I’d bring myself right back to the present moment.

Next, I looked into my beliefs. So many of my worries were caused by false beliefs about how things would happen. Realizing that this was the case, I could optimize my beliefs to be more empowering. Though this took a bit longer to enact, the changes were lasting. I began to think, live, feel, and act as the healthiest version of myself because my belief system supported this rather than my worries.

Finally, I became more logical about my reactions. There is a common mental phenomenon called emotional reasoning. This causes people to think based on the emotions elicited by scary or unpleasant thoughts.

After understanding this, I made sure that I remained logical in my thinking. If a worry popped up, I was able to avoid the rabbit hole and let it pass because I could realize that most worries of mine had no logical basis.

Have you shared any of this with people around you in real life?

Honestly, I didn’t share this with anybody for a while. I was slightly ashamed and embarrassed and was concerned that people would judge me. By happenstance, I was having a conversation with a good friend and the opportunity presented itself for me to share my struggles and feelings.

It was wonderful, and I became more comfortable with it. Over time, I found great benefits in talking to my close friends about it.

Talking to people about what’s going on and what’s troubling you can be so helpful. It’s just a nice chance to share your thoughts with somebody willing to listen and provide their best advice.

To feel comfortable doing this though, you need to confide in somebody who you trust and are comfortable being vulnerable with. The conversations, while difficult, are healing and clarity-providing.

If you could give a single piece of advice to someone else that struggles, what would that be?

The power of presence cannot be overstated. Invest in learning this skill and becoming better at being in the here and now. The better you are at this, the more easily you can combat any number of challenges, stressors, or anxieties.

Presence allows you to get out of your head and just into connection with the moment. Consciously doing this in moments of stress and disdain brings a deep sense of clarity and peace. You recognize that the present moment and the experiences it brings are soothing and good. This is a reliable and quick way to beat stress. Done over time, you can shift your set point more toward peace.

I also want to add that progress is not linear and perfect. Knowing this and accepting this is crucial. Giving yourself grace along the way when you slip up or struggle is a powerful form of self-love that will make carrying on easier.

If you hold yourself to impossible standards, it’s hard to be content. This applies to anything, whether that’s overcoming a struggle or pursuing a goal.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, YouTube channels, or other resources for you?

  • The Science of Success by Wallace Wattles: This is my favorite book I have read thus far. It includes profound wisdom on the way to gain control of the mind, focus it on your desires, and embody the highest version of yourself.
  • Huberman Lab podcast: A great podcast that helps me to learn and understand how the body works. I’ve been able to use the tips and understanding I’ve gained to instill healthier habits that have tremendous effects on the way I feel.
  • Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins: This taught me how to assess and optimize my belief systems such that negative beliefs could be reshaped in ways that empower me. Doing this helped me find mental flow and escape many of the false negative beliefs that had plagued me.

Where can we go to learn more about you?

You can find more information on my website, read my book Life: Maximized, or connect with me on LinkedIn.

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Hugo Huijer AuthorLinkedIn Logo

Founder of Tracking Happiness, with over 100 interviews and a focus on practical advice, our content extends beyond happiness tracking. Hailing from the Netherlands, I’m a skateboarding enthusiast, marathon runner, and a dedicated data junkie, tracking my happiness for over a decade.