8 things in life you need to stop worrying about, according to psychologists

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Worrying is something we are all guilty of. 

But how do you know if your worries are normal or if they are damaging your well-being?

Well, people who worry excessively tend to be consumed in thoughts about the things they cannot control. 

This anxiety uses up all your energy, taking your focus away from what you CAN control.

And this isn’t just my opinion. 

Psychologists agree that to be happy in life, you need to stop worrying about the following 8 things!

1) What other people think of you

Let’s start with what people worry about the most – other people’s opinions.

How does this specific worry hold you back?

Well…

According to psychologist Michael Gervais, constantly seeking approval or fearing judgment hinders our:

  • Personal growth
  • Potential
  • Authenticity

Rather than being ourselves, we talk, act, and behave as the person we think we should be. 

For example, we may dilute parts of our personality to make ourselves appear likable, increasing our chances of being accepted.

Moreover, we refrain from taking risks and chasing our dreams as we worry about what other people may say.

This is not to say other people’s opinions never matter. Sometimes, seeking advice from trusted friends and family members can be very helpful. 

But we should be able to do things without fear of people ridiculing us.

Often, fear of other people’s opinions stems from low self-worth. So to overcome this worry, work on building your self-esteem by:

  • Challenging unkind thoughts about yourself and replacing them with kind, empowering ones
  • Speaking aloud or writing down positive affirmations
  • Limiting how much time you spend on social media 

Once you stop worrying about what other people think, you’ll naturally let go of the following anxiety…

2) Failing/ things going wrong

When we fear what other people think of us, we avoid taking risks or doing anything that could lead to failure.

The reason why we’re scared of failure is because of the reactions it will spark from others.

For example, we might want to start a new business, but doing so requires putting ourselves out there for the world to see. 

If we fail, we fear others will:

  • Laugh at us
  • Say, “I told you so.”
  • Gossip behind our back

Dr. Brene Brown, a renowned researcher and author, emphasizes the importance of embracing vulnerability.

She says…

“Vulnerability is not about winning. It’s not about losing. It’s having the courage to show up and be seen when you can’t control the outcome.”

So, if you hold yourself back from your dreams because you worry about things going wrong, work on building courage through vulnerability.

How?

One way is to let go of the idea of perfectionism. Perfection does not exist, so the longer you spend trying to get things ‘perfect,’ the more time you waste.

All you can ever do is give it your best shot!

3) Other people’s issues

Most of us have enough problems to deal with on our own, yet we worry deeply about the burdens of those we care about.

While it’s natural to feel empathy and want to help others, it’s crucial to recognize our boundaries and prioritize our well-being. 

Constantly worrying about the struggles of others can lead to burnout.

Plus, all we can do is give advice and support. Only the other person can make a change; we cannot force them to.

I’ve struggled with this in the past. I see my loved ones struggling, and to me, the solution is simple.

However, they have different perspectives and beliefs, so what I believe to be the solution may not necessarily be right for them. 

This extreme concern for other people’s issues stems from a need to control everything.

So, to overcome this, we must remember that this is outside our control. 

Instead of forcing the outcome we want, we should practice setting healthy boundaries and encourage our loved ones to take responsibility for their challenges. 

4) Past mistakes & what-ifs

We can not control, alter, or change the past.

We cannot undo our past mistakes. Yet we dwell on them for months and even years.

Likewise, we cannot go back and do the things we wish we had done, but we continue to replay those scenarios in our heads, driving ourselves crazy.

When our energy is focused on the past, we do not think about the present or the future. Thus, dwelling prevents us from moving forward and enjoying the here and now.

When I find myself worrying about my past regrets, my go-to technique is mindfulness.

Becoming aware of the things you can see, hear, feel, and smell in this very moment swiftly brings your attention back to the present—the only period over which we have any control.

Another way to stay focused on the present is through gratitude. This technique can be beneficial when you are stuck on the “what-ifs.”

Focus on all the beautiful blessings you currently have in your life rather than the things you may have missed out on.

5) Worst case scenarios 

Just like the past, we cannot control the future.

Our actions today can determine our future to some degree, but we can never be sure what will happen.

Yet, when it comes to the future, many people worry about the worst-case scenario

These worries include:

  • Losing their job
  • Going bankrupt
  • Their partner leaving them
  • Being unable to afford retirement

And so much more!

Worrying about future worst-case scenarios stems from a pessimistic mentality and a scarcity mindset.

According to psychology, a scarcity mindset is rooted in fear. You fear you will never have enough or be enough.

Practicing gratitude can help to overcome this type of thinking, as can surrounding yourself with positive people.

6) Global events/ the news

I know it’s hard to ignore the injustices of the world. But the truth is that most global issues, such as wars, can only be resolved by those in power.

Sure, we can attend protests and voice our concerns on social media, but we have no control over the outcome of these things.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t be concerned about bad things happening in the world. Being emotionally affected by natural disasters, wars, and injustice shows you have high empathy.

However, there is a difference between being empathetic and allowing negativity to consume you.

The more you follow the news, the more emotionally invested you become, hence the more anxious you feel.

Psychologists have been researching the link between news consumption and anxiety for many years. 

In this 2021 study, they found that all types of news media consumption increased emotional distress in the participants, but television and social media exposure caused the most worry.

Researchers have also found that consuming news increases cortisol levels, the body’s main stress hormone. 

7) Getting older

Another thing we have zero control over is aging.

We are all getting older, and one day we will pass away. 

Sure, it may not be a nice thought, but there is simply nothing we can do to prevent it.

So, there is no use worrying about things that come with old age, such as:

  • How your appearance will change
  • How your health will deteriorate
  • What life will be like
  • The loved ones that will die before you

Many psychologists believe the Western world worries so much about aging because of our perception.

We view getting old as becoming useless and a burden on others.

However, in other cultures, such as in Okinawa, Japan (where there is the highest number of centenarians), growing older is seen as a sign of wisdom and experience.

Not only do people view aging as a part of life’s natural progression, but they celebrate it.

Moreover, a 2016 community-based study of 1,546 adults aged 21-100 found that many older adults are happier than younger people!

So, if you are a victim of this culturally-based fear of getting older, work on switching your mindset.

According to a separate study, older adults who positively perceived getting old had better physical functions and self-images than those who feared aging!

8) Your bank balance

Again, this might be controversial, but let me explain what I mean…

I’m not saying you should not prioritize your career or making money, nor should you set financial goals. Being financially stable may reduce your worries.

However, spending your life fretting over money will take your energy and focus away from the things that matter more – family, health, etc.

If you are in a very dire financial situation, then sure, some anxiety is understandable. 

But if you are reasonably financially stable and have a regular income, money should not consume all your thought energy.

The research on money and happiness is interesting.

A 2010 study by Princeton researchers found that emotional well-being initially rises as you earn more money. However, emotional well-being no longer increases once your income surpasses around $75,000 annually.

This shows that feeling financially stable is essential for mental health. But once you’ve reached that place, worrying about your bank balance is just a waste of energy. 

Final thoughts

By worrying about something you cannot control or change, all you’re doing is causing yourself mental and emotional turmoil. 

So, if you frequently obsess over the things on this list, give some of the techniques and tools I mentioned a go.

By letting go of the need to control everything, building your self-esteem, and adopting a more positive mindset, you’ll be able to free yourself from the burden of anxiety and embrace the present moment with open arms. 

Gemma Clarke

I am a certified yoga and mindfulness teacher and an experienced content writer in the spirituality and personal growth space.
I’m passionate about sharing my expertise through the power of
words to inspire and guide others along the path of personal and spiritual development.

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