“You don’t have to control your thoughts. You just have to stop letting them control you.” ~Dan Millman
There was a time when my mind was completely consumed by worries, and I lived in a perpetual state of panic.
I worried about things I’d said and whether people were judging me, things I should be doing and whether I was using my time well, the state of my life, the state of the world, and just about anything else one could worry about.
Life always felt scary and uncertain, so I always felt unsafe, and worrying gave me the illusion of gaining some semblance of control.
Well-intentioned people advised me to just be positive—then I’d feel a lot better about life. But I’ve always found the concept of positive thinking somewhat frustrating.
First, it made me feel guilty, since no matter how hard I tried to avoid negative thoughts, they’d inevitably pop into my head. Secondly, it was exhausting. To constantly monitor your mind takes monumental effort, and it seemed contrary to my goal—to be less burdened by my brain.
Still, there’s no denying that our thoughts influence our feelings. When we sit around dwelling on everything that could go wrong, or everything we think we did wrong, we end up feeling drained and depressed.
So what’s the solution, then? How can allow ourselves to be human and simultaneously ensure we don’t drown in our fearful thoughts?
For me, journaling has been key.
Journaling has helped me find solutions to my problems, identify and let go of things I can’t control, and change my perspective on the things I want to change but can’t.
It’s also helped me recognize my own strength so that I can worry less about what’s coming and trust more in my ability to handle it, whatever it may be.
If you’re looking for a little mental relief this week, I recommend starting each weekday with one of these five journal prompts from Tiny Buddha’s Worry Journal: A Creative Way to Let Go of Anxiety and Find Peace.
The beauty of these particular prompts is that they help us focus on the moment, be kind to ourselves, and have faith in ourselves and our journey, wherever it may lead.
5 Journal Prompts to Help You Calm Your Anxious Mind
1. Today, I choose to let go of the things I can’t control, including…
2. I recognize that I don’t need to have all the answers right now. Today, I give myself permission not to know…
3. Dear inner critic: You always focus on everything I’m doing wrong, but I know I’m doing a lot right, including…
4. I know I’m strong enough to handle whatever comes at me, because I’ve survived a lot, including…
5. Instead of worrying about making the “wrong” choices, I trust that no matter what I choose…
You don’t need to write anything specific or lengthy, though you can take all the time you have and need. The important thing is that you get in the habit of thinking about yourself and your problems in a new way.
It’s not about suppressing thoughts or replacing them with positive ones. It’s about directing your mind to useful thoughts so you can spend less of your life feeling worried and overwhelmed.
Just like gratitude journaling can help us feel happier and more optimistic, keeping a worry journal can help us feel calmer and more at peace.
If you’re interesting in pre-ordering a copy of Tiny Buddha’s Worry Journal, which officially launches on June 26th, you can reserve a copy here.
Once you receive your purchase confirmation email, forward it to email@example.com and you’ll receive access to the following free bonus items:
- Four guided meditations on letting go (of control, the need for approval, stresses/pressure, and self-judgment)
- Three colorful desktop wallpapers with cute Buddhas and calming quotes
- An exclusive interview with me and Ehren Prudhel, founder of the soon-to-be-launched podcast Next Creator Up, in which I discuss how I’ve overcome worries related to writing my first feature film
I hope these prompts (and the other activities in the journal) help you as much as they’ve helped me!