The answer for your anxiety relief lives in another fancy-pants term: future-back thinking.
Future-back thinking is, like the phrase suggests, a way of carrying yourself into the future and coming back with the answers.
Wouldn’t this make sense?
If your present situation is not giving you the answers you need, you have to go to a different reality.
You need to identify a life in which you are happier, wiser, and worry-free.
How to Break the Worry Cycle with Future-Back Thinking
1. Take out a piece of paper
Why do I always say get out such a simple tool?
Because the simple will change your life.
When you write something down on paper, you bring your reality into the world.
Your thoughts become things, and getting your thoughts into a tangible, written form begins the reality you’re looking for.
It makes the words come alive.
You can see them materialize in front of you.
2. Imagine yourself well into the future, not just a few days or weeks
This is important.
To get out of your cycle of worry, you need to get out of your typical worry time.
What I mean by this is that your normal worry period is not doing you any good because you’re using the present to try to change your future.
But garbage in is garbage out.
You need to move yourself into a time and place that is far removed from your current worries.
This means you’ll need to move yourself years or decades into the future.
Doing this will move you from your current, unsolvable worries–remember, you’re using the same data to try to produce a different result–to a land of more productive worry.
3. Describe that future reality with as much detail as you possibly can
And to do this, you need to imagine the future “you” with as much detail as is humanly possible–for you.
Now, I can’t see images in my head, so, for me, my future reality contains lots of words and concepts.
It contains goals and dreams and descriptions of what I’m doing and where I am well into the future.
For you, maybe you see pictures.
Maybe you’ll want to get those pictures down on paper.
Do whatever makes the most sense for you.
Just make sure that there is as much detail as you can muster.
Because, even if words can create your future, they will only get you to where you want to go if you know where you want to go in the first place.
The more you can paint a version of your perfect future, the more likely it becomes that you’ll notice it when you start to get there.
4. Ask, “What would need to be true for this future to exist?” and create a simple plan
You’ve done the hard work.
You’ve created your ideal future.
Now’s the fun part.
This is what will change your beliefs about worry and help you break the worry habit.
This is the magical transmutation of unsolvable worries to solvable worries.
Ask yourself one question:
“What would need to be true for this future to exist?”
I LOVE this question.
Because it gets my brain thinking about what’s possible.
And then it forces me to take action.
Because, at this point, you’ve already clearly identified the future you want.
Now you get to put together a plan to make it happen.
For example, if you just created a future of yourself driving a turquoise truck across the country, making a living on the road and soaking up all the attention you get with your almost-fluorescent automobile, you now have a path forward.
Yes, this is a silly example.
But you’d at least know where to start.
You’d know you need to get a commercial driver’s license.
That’s one milestone to start planning for.
You’d know that you wouldn’t want to work for just any kind of trucking company.
You’d want to work for a fun one that likes to paint their vehicles zany colors.
That would narrow it down with another milestone to accomplish.
Every time you identify something that would have to be “true” to reach your future reality, you have yourself a new milestone or mini-goal.
It doesn’t matter what you call it.
What matters is that you tease out the steps in your new journey.
Keep breaking the milestones down into smaller and smaller pieces.
You’re reeling yourself back in from the future.
You are literally creating your new life piece by piece.
Present-forward thinking is what most people do when they worry about their life.
They only see what they’ve already experienced.
But I can tell you’re serious about wanting to know how to stop worrying.
And to do that, you need future-back thinking.
Go into your mind and travel to the future version of yourself.
Once you see it clearly, come back to the present and make it happen.
Your plan of action is closer than you think.