worried woman with cans of soupI learned to worry at an early age.

My mom worried a lot, often aloud, and I had no clue that what she was worrying about wasn’t real. You don’t as a kid.

We were going to run out of money. We’d have to eat canned soup every night. We were going to lose our house. My dad was going to get custody of me and my sister.

It was all completely real in my mind, and I’m sure it was real in her mind too. But none of it was truly real. None of those things happened.

The things we worry about usually don’t happen because worry isn’t about what’s happening in the outside world. Worry, quite literally, is our imagination creating dramatic stories and images about things that could happen; then, our mind drops the could and acts as if what we’re worried about is inevitable.

If what you imagine actually happens in the world—if my mom and sister and I had lost our house and eaten soup every night—it wouldn’t have been because my mom’s mind knew. Life unfolds moment by moment—there is no future. There is only a mind, right now, creating stories and images and projecting them outward into the world “out there,” into the “future.”

“Out there” and “future” aren’t real things. They are part of the mind-created story. They are thoughts.

— Excerpt adapted from Just a Thought: A No-Willpower Approach to End Self-Doubt and Make Peace with Your Mind. Available now

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