How to Soothe a Worried Mind

By Andrea Wachter, LMFT

Worrying can be extremely draining. If our minds are consistently running off into worst-case “what if” scenarios, it’s not only stressful and unpleasant, but it also tends to cloud our internal wisdom. This makes it challenging to know exactly what we need in any given moment.

Like children, our worried minds need compassion, wisdom, soothing, and redirection. Given that you’re with your mind 24/7, you are the best person for the job.

If you’ve been unable to effectively calm your worried mind, the following words can help. You can read them to yourself and imagine that your wise mind and compassionate heart are speaking to your worries. You can record the following words on your smart phone and listen to them in your own voice. Or you can join me here as I read them to you.

Dear Worried Mind,

I see you. I understand you. There are important and valid reasons why you feel the way you do. I really appreciate you trying so hard to keep me safe and to stay on the lookout for danger. You are so diligent, always factoring in the hard things that have happened in the past, always on the lookout for what might happen in the future.

It’s not your fault, worried mind. You’ve been programmed and you’re just running your automatic programs. I know you’re just trying to help. The problem is that you’re not actually helping. What you are doing is creating stress inside of our system.

You’re thinking about invisible scenarios that don’t even exist right now and you’re making this body feel like these scary scenarios are actually happening when, in fact, nothing is happening right now, other than reading these words and breathing with a supportive surface beneath us. We are safe right now. Can you feel that in this moment we are safe? If something challenging happens that we need to deal with. we will take action, but you chime in when nothing dangerous is actually happening.

It’s true that hard things have happened in the past, and I wish I could guarantee you that no hard things will happen in the future. But what I can tell you is that the percentage of time that hard things have happened and will happen doesn’t compare to how often you worry. You worry when we’re totally safe, lying in a cozy bed. You worry when we’re going about our day, and everything is really fine. I know there are hard things happening in the world, and hard things are part of life. But I also know that you’ve been working overtime. and your efforts don’t actually help.

All your worrying does is cause us to miss out on the actual, factual moment. When you go off into invisible unpleasant mind movies, we miss out on the many moments when everything is actually okay. I want to live in reality, not scary mind movies. The more we live in the present moment, the more prepared and centered we’ll be when life’s challenges arrive. You try to deal with challenges before they even arrive, and all that does is make more moments challenging. I thank you for trying so hard, dear worried mind, but you are totally overworking.

The truth is that nothing actually exists outside of this moment. I know your scared, and it’s not your fault that you worry. The world is moving so fast, and hard things have happened. But if you can rest more and take a back seat while I wisdom, awareness, and compassionlead the way, we will have so much more clarity and peace.

If you have authentic emotions to express, I will welcome them with compassion, but you spinning out on worries is not helping. If you stay quiet, it can make more room for me to hear the intuitive wisdom of my heart.

So, I want you to rest now, worried mind. I thank you for trying so hard to predict, plan, and prepare, but we really can’t figure out life ahead of time.

Let’s bring our focus to the present moment, to what is actually, factually here: this breath… now this breath… this breath… and now this breath. Notice the surface beneath us and all the support of that surface. Let’s loosen our gripped muscles just a little bit more. Let’s notice what’s actually here. Notice the sounds around us. Let’s come home. Let’s spend more time in reality and less time in futuristic, scary mind movies.

You can rest now, worried mind, and when you need me, I will soothe you again and again, just like I would soothe a worried child. I will redirect you again and again, from the world of not-now, back home to now.

View on Psychology Today