Hassan Ouajbir

Here’s How Focusing On Gratitude Can Actually Help Relieve Your Anxiety

“I discovered that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, but that when I didn’t believe them, I didn’t suffer, and that this is true for every human being. Freedom is as simple as that.” — Byron Katie

What preoccupies your mind with worry? Why do you worry? Is it to maintain a sense of control? Perhaps you feel engaged in something you are powerless over? I want you to recognize whether worry is serving you so you can break the cycle and find inner peace. Yes, it is possible to let go of worrying, but it will require work on your part. So, are you committed to changing? If so, let me show you how to go from worrying to a state of inner freedom.

When we worry, our mind is projected into the future, since we believe we cannot handle what will take place. Therefore, worrying is trying to control something we have little or no control over. Author and psychotherapist David Richo echoes this sentiment in his book The Five Things We Cannot Change, where he states: “We worry because we do not trust ourselves to handle what happens to us. We worry because we do not trust that the way the chips fall will work out for the best. We worry because we have not yet said yes.”

The key to overcoming worry is to recognize the mind cannot be trusted, given its inherent negativity bias. Evolutionary psychologists believe the brain has adapted to thousands of years of evolution to screen for inherent danger within our environment. When humankind first roamed the Savannah centuries ago, assessing for a potential threat, it was an important period in our brain’s evolution. Yet, nowadays, the threat is no longer necessary, however our biology has not caught up. In other words: Our mind still looks for a threat to our safety and survival, even though the threat isn’t as imminent nowadays. Nonetheless, we mustn’t allow ourselves to worry about something that may or may not happen. We can safely remind ourselves all is well and redirect our attention to what we are grateful for, here and now.

Uncertainty Needn’t Mean Worry Or Fear

“Leave everything undefined, including yourself. Befriend uncertainty. Fall in love with mystery. Kneel at the altar of Not Knowing. Give your questions time to breathe. And the answers will find you.” — Jeff Foster

Are you happy with this idea so far? Can you appreciate how your mind is engineered to help you survive? Therefore, we mustn’t get stuck in incessant worry but reorientate ourselves back to the present moment. Each time we bring ourselves back to the present, we strengthen neural pathways in the brain. It requires practice, patience, and persistence to notice our habit of worrying. If we can practice shifting our attention from the future to the here and now, we will see positive changes in our life.

To express it differently: We must learn to observe ourselves when worrying and create a space between the observing mind and the worrying mind. It involves inhabiting our mind and body instead of letting our mind wander into the future. In the same way we have taught ourselves to worry, we can train ourselves to be grounded in the present moment through mindfulness. It is why anchoring ourselves in gratitude will help us let go of worry, since it is the bridge between the present moment and the future. In other words: Gratitude is choosing to look at reality through a new filter instead of worry, anxiety, and fear. Yes, the future is uncertain, but uncertainty needn’t equate to worry or fear. Uncertainty can be filled with unlimited possibilities that can benefit us. It requires us to keep an open mind and not catastrophize situations beyond our control.

Training In Awareness

“The ultimate value of life depends upon awareness and the power of contemplation rather than upon mere survival.” — Aristotle

Is this something you’re willing to practice? Can you give yourself the gift of releasing your worries and fears and anchor yourself in the present moment? You are worthy of self-love by directing your attention towards inner peace. Negative emotions such as worry, anxiety, and fear cloud our judgement about what is real. They are the fake news of the mind and an illusion that keeps us trapped and isolated. But this needn’t be your reality if you’re willing to rewrite a new script for the future.

And here’s the thing: Gratitude allows us to focus on what is real and fix ourselves in this state. Gratitude is the language of love because it is grounded in appreciation. We cultivate a loving heart through the power of acceptance. Therefore, we ought to focus on what is tangible instead of the illusory states of mind to let go of worry and fear. Even though the mind tries to convince you the future is uncertain and terrifying, it is a fabricated narrative invented by the ego. But it needn’t be this way, because we have the power to redirect our attention to the present moment.

Practices such as breathwork, mindfulness, and meditation are helpful to navigate fear, worry and anxiety. For example, we can practice sitting alone in silence and focus on our breath. As we breathe in and out, we safely anchor ourselves to the present moment. Similarly, through mindfulness, we learn to bring our attention to the present moment when our mind wanders to the future. Meditation is the practice of training in awareness and detaching from our thoughts, so we become the observer. We can follow our breath while meditating and notice the bodily sensations that rise and fall. This powerful practice is a portal to the here and now and a practice we can cultivate daily. Even though the mind has a negativity bias toward danger, we can change our response to worry by being mindful of our thoughts. After all, each time we focus on gratitude, we strengthen neural pathways in the brain, which ultimately becomes our new reality.