A Handy Phrase to Help with Anxiety

Imagine the following scenario:

Your friend calls you up and says she’d love for you to come to a party later this month.

There will be a couple of other people you know there, but several you don’t. She asks you to bring an appetizer and your sense of adventure. She says she’s sure you’ll get along with everyone there. 

Did your heart skip a beat reading that? Does an imagined event like that ignite your anxiety?

The anxious parts of us often tell us stories about the future. They often have something concerning to say about what might happen. Often, in the present, things are okay. It’s the possibility that something will go wrong – you’ll look like an idiot, you’ll feel awkward, and no one will like your appetizer – that causes the dread and unease we recognize as anxiety. 

Your anxious mind might say things like:

“What if I show up with the same appetizer as someone else?”

“What if no one likes what I bring?”

“What if I drop it on the way in?”

“What if I don’t have anyone to talk to?”

“What should I wear?”

“What if it’s terrible, and I want to leave?”

“What the heck does she mean by a sense of adventure? What are we going to be doing?!”

I often work with clients on ways to redirect their anxious future-based thoughts so that we can slowly but surely alter the way their brains operate. Recently a client and I landed on a helpful phrase: I’ll worry later if I have to

It’s a brilliant little sentence for a few reasons.

Firstly, it is not dismissive of our anxiety. The first part of the phrase – I’ll worry later – reminds you that your worry is allowed. Your anxiety, after all, is working hard to help you stay safe (you can read more about that here ). We don’t want to tell anxiety to get lost or go away. In fact, it can always come back later if something needs our attention. 

Second, this phrase is helpful because it includes the second portion – if I have to. This second part is helpful because you may have noticed that most of the things your anxious parts are concerned about never come to pass.

Often clients tell me that the things that have consumed their thoughts for days or weeks turn out just fine. By reminding our brains that we may not need to worry, we free our minds up for things happening in the present.

You can even ask yourself, “Do I have to worry about this now?”. 

I’ll worry later if I have to. 

The next time your anxious parts feel the need to ruminate about some imagined future horrible scenario, consider redirecting your thoughts by using this handy little phrase. 

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