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How to Stop Worrying

Life coaches claim that you can just drop your worries at the blink of an eye, but we both know it's not that easy. Turns out we can learn a lot from the experts of it. (Hint: they're not bloggers.)

If you have mental health issues, OCD, or some type of serious problem that you cannot get past, do not attempt the method I present here as an alternative to professional help. It could make your situation worse. Please, take care of yourself: seek counseling.

To stop worrying about things that don't matter, what the internet calls not giving a f*ck (NGAF) is trendy, and understandably so. Life is hard, and the less that gets in your way, the better.

Many authors and inspirational bloggers claim NGAF is a simple thing: just stop caring. However, the truth is more complicated. It’s takes some effort to get to that point.

Thankfully, we can learn a lot from people who are professionals of the art: old people rarely GAF about anything.

So does that mean that caring less is just a result of age? Absolutely not. Let’s consider what NGAF actually means.

The best way that I can describe NGAF is non-reactivity to stressful situations. Situations that create stress vary from person to person; you have to identify your own unique ones. You probably already have.

Old people are great at NGAF because they’ve experienced a large number of stressful situations and have had great amounts of time for their brains to fully process them. After years of that process, they inevitably stop caring about anything that doesn't truly matter.

Fortunately, you can shortcut years of more passive, infrequent experiences with smaller amounts of targeted work. It requires pain and sacrifice, but the rewards will make you a better person. Here’s how I’ve learned to do it:

1 . Expose yourself to a situation you GAF about.

The first step is to select a thing that “triggers” you and initiate that situation.

2. Fully experience your emotional reaction to the situation but with mindfulness. Restraint an outer reaction.

Experience the feelings caused by your stress until they naturally dissipate (this may take a while depending on how strongly you react). Take mental notes about how you're feeling and why you're feeling that way if possible.

Depending on the personal severity of the situation, the feelings may be very painful. However, do not shut down, disconnect, or find a temporary coping mechanism to stop the process prematurely (unless you’re experiencing mental health issues, in which case you shouldn’t be doing this anyway). You need to fully experience the discomfort to make progress.

It’s also important that you don’t outwardly react to the situation, especially if there are other people around. A strong reaction towards any situation demonstrates that you’re invested in it (ie: you GAF), and depending on the topic at hand, you may expose personal weakness that others may use against you either immediately or in the future. This can make your personal stress even more unbearable by introducing external sources of stress.

3. Continue to experience similar situations repeatedly.

Like anything else, practicing something will make it easier for you to handle.

The more that you experience similar situations that you GAF about, the less that you’ll care the next time around. Make sure that you don’t shortcut your emotional processing in repeated exposures either.

4. Be amazed as your brain adapts over time.

Unconscious processing is pretty sweet.

Even with just a few repeated experiences in your mental bank, over time, your brain will perceive the thing you GAF about as less of a big deal.

5. Gloat about how you actually don't GAF (DGAF).

If you’ve given yourself the adequate stress exposure and the enough time to unconsciously process the stress and outcomes, congratulations, you DGAF!


But as always, there's caveats to everything:

Don’t use IDGAF as an excuse to stunt personal growth.

If something that is within your control is bothering you, it may be a good to IDGAF it to the point where the problem is not debilitating. However, don't use this method as a way to ignore your problems. Emotion is good motivation to correct the issues you're experiencing in life.

For example, let's say that you're really overweight and deep down, you want to lose it. Here, it’s a really bad idea to go down the "IDGAF about my weight" path. It may even be impossible to NGAF about it since you know that you have the power to correct it.

It's probably not possible to NGAF about everything.

If you're a normal person, any new, uncomfortable experiences will generate a some type of reaction in you. Your goal is to weaken them over time until most are comfortable enough.

Some people will have more trouble NGAF than others.

Have you ever noticed how some people seem to care about everything and others care about very little?

Some people will need more exposure than others to get over things. Maybe it's learned, maybe it's genetic, but don't let this discourage you if you're a bit more sensitive than others. Keep pushing through.

25. From Pennsylvania, USA. Software engineer at Amazon.com, traveler, scuba divemaster, amateur photographer, aspiring minimalist. A bit restless.

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