How to Stop Worrying About Everything

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How to Stop Worrying About Everything, "Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength."

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”
-Corrie ten Boom

I used to be the master of living in the moment. I didn’t care about the small things that got other people into an obsessive state of panic. I didn’t let anything touch me or get me down. I was zen.

It was because there was a phrase that I believed in and fully swore by. That phrase was—excuse my French—“I don’t give a fuck (IDGAF.)” I gave the phrase authority and prepared my brain to toss worries away if this phrase came into my mind. It allowed me to prioritize and focus on the things that mattered.

Somewhere along the way though, I had forgotten this phrase that had gotten me through so much. I began to let the details of daily life shower over me and I let it push me down again and again. I forgot how to stop worrying. Luckily, I remembered the phrase and I’m back to worrying about the right things.

But before I remembered, I was looking for answers by validating myself to others and feeding my ego on a daily basis. When my ego wasn’t stroked, I’d be sad and my day ruined.

Sometimes it was a nagging feeling that I couldn’t place on one specific thing, but the feeling was there. Sometimes it was clearer that I was worrying over something that I shouldn’t be worrying over.

For example, last week I had asked a cute cashier for her phone number and she told me she had a boyfriend. The old, insecure me would have spent the next week thinking about all the things that went wrong. Maybe she was lying. Maybe I’m ugly. Maybe I shouldn’t have asked at all! My mind would have driven me crazy.

Well, present-me is secure, confident, and knows that it’s always better to take action than get stuck wondering “what if?” I smiled, made a joke to show her I was okay and that she shouldn’t feel bad for turning me down, and mentally I repeated my phrase.

Enjoying life without worryingDo I really care that I didn’t get her number? No, it would have been nice and all, my ego would have been pleased, but in the end I didn’t really mind. Life is fun and “IDGAF” reminds me not to take everything so seriously. I got over it within a minute, told my friends what just happened, and we all laughed at the joke response I told the cashier.

That’s the beauty of my phrase. It makes you more secure, it lets you enjoy little things, and it saves you from the mental torture that you’re ought to do.

Think of the phrase as a mantra. It’s not religious, but you can think of it as spiritual if that helps you. It doesn’t even have to be the same mantra I use, as long as you create a mantra for yourself that you use often enough to trust. Trust in it and know that it’s alright to let go when the mantra is used.

Of course, the mantra does not come into play when it involves important things like bills, other people’s feelings, and things of that nature. It is meant for the worries that are of no consequence.

If you want to learn how to stop worrying, you need to learn an essential skill. Learn when to worry about the things that matter and let go of the things that don’t. We all know the importance of not worrying about what we don’t have, but there are less obvious things. When you catch yourself wondering over things that don’t matter, tell yourself, “IDGAF.” Give authority to those words and mentally approve it as the okay to let go. It’s not easy, but the mantra can be powerful.

When you should not worry and when to use the mantra

Don’t worry about things outside of your control

People worry about the economy being bad or they put blame on the government for this and that. I could give you 10,000 more examples, but I know you’re smart and can easily name things that you have no control over.

You have no influence over the events that unfold outside of your control, so why sit around worrying? Be proactive and focus on yourself and do things that will help you get further in your career, life, or whatever your long-term goal is.

It’s good to be aware of things that are big picture and out of your control, but I know people who use these things as an excuse to not do anything. Instead, they worry.

There are many things that happen each day that are outside of your control too. Maybe you met someone that looked at you funny. Then you wonder what you did wrong, why doesn’t this person like you? You can’t really change the fact that it happened nor could you control how this person looked at you. Say, “IDGAF.

Don’t worry about things that won’t matter a week/month/year from now

It’s pretty easy to let everything stick to us and keep us running loops for a long time. Even for the seemingly insignificant things our minds will stick to it and bring you back.

Looking at timeBe honest with yourself. Will this issue really matter a week, month, or a year from now? I always “time-travel” and look at my thoughts through this view.

Will I still be bothered about this a week, month, or year from now? If not then most likely it’s not worth thinking about right now. Why waste the potential for a good day for something that is of no consequence? “IDGAF.”

Don’t worry about what people think of you right now, you can change their minds later

I remember the awkward and annoying kid I was several years back. I’m sure there are plenty of people who, if I ran into them today, will still have this impression of me.

I’m okay with that. It doesn’t bother me because if we spent more than a minute together, I would bet they think I’m pretty awesome now. I’ve grown, I’m a completely different person, and what they used to think of me doesn’t matter.

As for the people who don’t like me for whatever reason, I’m not bothered at all. Their dislike of me doesn’t lower my quality of life. It doesn’t affect my opportunities at all. Why worry about a passing stranger I’ll never see again? When you stop seeking validation from others you will find yourself free to do what you want (within reason of course.)

If you feel like you left a poor first impression or you’re scared of what people think, don’t worry about it. Everyone is too busy worrying about themselves and what others think of them. They don’t really think about you as often as you would think. Isn’t that liberating?

Even if they think of you on occasion, you can show them how awesome you are later as you can always work on improving your first impression. As for now, “IDGAF.”

Don’t worry about what could have been

 Worrying what could have been

Ah, “wondering what if?” What could have happened if we had stayed together? What could have happened if I had asked her out? What if, what if, what if…

You can drive yourself crazy by sitting down and wondering about all the things that could have been. When you sit back and think about it, it’s counter-productive. You are literally powerless because it had already passed.

Don’t waste another minute wondering what could have been. Instead, focus and figure out how to avoid mistakes in the future or get yourself into the mindset of creating opportunities for yourself. Be proactive. If you find yourself slipping into the fantasies of “what if?” tell yourself “IDGAF.”

Don’t worry about pleasing others all the time

This is hard for people because they think that if you’re not always pleasing others then you are selfish. That is WRONG. It doesn’t make you selfish to care for yourself and not be on call for everyone else. You’re living your own life.

Help others when it’s in your power to do so and when they really need it. Don’t always be on guard because people will abuse your kindness. That’s reality; people abuse kindness if you don’t set boundaries.

Recap on what you should stop worrying about:
Reminder of What to Stop Worrying About

Question: What are some things you worry about even though you shouldn’t?

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Vincent Nguyen is the author of Self Stairway. After landing his dream job with Empire Flippers he dropped out of school and moved to Davao, Philippines to work closely with the company's founders. Don't worry, he still publishes every Monday and hasn't missed a single week since starting this site in January 2013.

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51 responses to How to Stop Worrying About Everything

  1. “I don’t give a fuck”

    A powerful mantra indeed. I like it! The attitude gives you power. It gives you the ability to be yourself without worrying about the “consequences” . . . all those little “what ifs” that run through your mind.

    “I don’t give a fuck” is pure liberation.

    Good stuff Vincent!

    Cheers!

  2. Worry? Me? I just say things like, “don’t sweat it, it all works out in the end,” and “what’s meant to be is meant to be.” No French needed. But of course I still worry a bit about my daughter when she’s not with me and money when I don’t have it.

  3. Hi Vincent,

    Ah…I think ALL of us worry, though some do a little, some more :)

    I remember my Moms words when I was in college and awaiting my results for the next year, the first kind of serious worry – she said you should worry about things that you can control or those that have a solution, but why worry about those that you have no control over. You are just asking for trouble – and these words have stayed with me right through.

    However, for some people, no matter how much you try or tell or teach, worrying runs in their blood or genes! They just can’t stop worrying! If they stop worrying about one thing, very soon they pick up another thing to start worrying about. It’s almost like they make it part of their nature.

    Thanks for sharing. Have a nice week ahead :)

    • Your story is interesting because the results was a bit of in the grey area. It was something you had some control over, but not all. Your determination and drive during the year definitely affected your results, but then again, at the time of waiting there was nothing left you had control over so your mom was right.

      I hope you have a nice week too, Harleena!

  4. This post hits home Vincent. I spend too much time in my own head focused on things that are not about constructing a more progressive me. I like your mantra and like Trevor said, it makes me feel powerful to say it. :-x

    • It’s alright, Sara! Maybe with the mantra you’ll learn to get outside of your head. Try practicing the mantra and give it authority over little things so that when it comes time for when you really need it, you’ll trust in it and know when to shut off your inner voice. Sort of like how I experimented with the 5 second rule where I count to five and HAVE to do whatever it is I told myself to do. I trained myself to respond to it by doing small things first “Go get the mail,” “Make breakfast,” so when I REALLY needed it, I’m already used to listening to my rule.

  5. Hey Vincent,

    I’m definitely down with the IDGAF mentality. But I think there is more to it than that.

    It’s pretty challenging to just say “I don’t care about what other people think.” and then legitimately believe it. If I could flip a switch and stop giving a fuck that would be awesome.

    But what truly helped me stop giving a fuck was adopting the abundance mentality. There are 6 billion people on this Earth. If someone doesn’t like me then that’s no biggie. If a girl rejects me then no worries, there’s 3 billion more.

    Part of this mentality is brought on by having firm relationships in life. When I started to connect with like-minded people and gained a solid group of friends I started to give way less fucks what other people thought of me.

    A lot of people “settle” in relationships because they feel like they have no other options. If they just realized that there possibilities are endless they’d be much more likely to wait for someone truly amazing.

    Regardless, I still liked this post a lot and think you made some solid points.

    Good shit man.

    • Thanks for dropping your thoughts, Kevin! You’re right, there is definitely more to it than just thinking it and hoping it’ll magically clear your head. That’s why I made a small note about giving authority to the phrase but I know that there’s no universal way to do so. I’m hoping the ambiguity leads people to creatively brainstorm their own way. I personally train the mantra by using it on very small things that I already know how to get over quickly so that my brain associates the mantra with the okay to let go.

      It could have been extensive, but I felt it was too limiting if I just wrote my way without there being alternatives.

      That’s a really good mentality. The whole “plenty of fish in the sea” thing goes hand in hand with a lot more than just dating. It’s a way of life when viewing opportunities.

      I like what you pointed out in relationships. You’re right, people settle a lot and it’s pretty easy to walk around a crowded area and realize that these people aren’t happy. Then again, who am I to judge? Maybe they’re secretly a lot happier than we are. :)

  6. This post is spot on! I agree that your “IDGAF” mantra is indeed very powerful and I have been applying this to my own life recently too. I’m glad that it works well for me when I kept thinking of the failures I made in the past. However, I believe that worrying is not a bad thing at all because it is extremely helpful for my self-reflection. As long as we don’t let worries take control over us, they are pretty harmless and can even transform into encouragement.
    Nevertheless, thanks for writing this Vincent. You never fail to cheer me up!

    • In small doses worrying can be a great thing, Lynn. However, I find that more often than not people will overdose on worry. They’ll let small things add up and they’ll spend a week worrying about something that should have lasted less than 10 seconds in their conscience.

      Glad to know this article was a good pick me up :)

  7. I’m a fan of the attitude, but I think there are a lot of people who don’t ‘give a fuck’ in a bad way – they disrespect other people, themselves, don’t go out of their way to become better, take a lot more than they give back, etc. In my books, it isn’t an attitude that can be applied universally with a lot of success; you have to be pretty damn selective with what elements of your life you apply it to. Not caring about not getting a number is one thing, but not giving a fuck with whether people you respect you (and so on) is another.

    Just a minor gripe :) Great post, have an awesome week!

    • You’re totally right, Chris, some people don’t know how to find that sweet, balance. That’s why I added the bit about “It is meant for the worries that are of no consequence.”

      I give a lot of credit to my readers and really hope that they can make these informed decisions on their own without me spoon-feeding too much. That’s why I didn’t dedicate an entire area to “DON’T BE A JERK TO EVERYONE!” while going over the IDGAF mentality. I trust the readers understand the importance of balance, but perhaps next time around I should expand a bit more for the smaller majority that may not realize there should be a balance. I guess that’s a judgment call on my end. :)

  8. Yes, Vincent, I do like this one! As a recovering people pleaser, I have to remind myself often that the past is the past, and I can only change the future. We don’t get to choose how others react to us. We might feel we perfectly crossed our t’s and dotted our i’s only to realize they didn’t like “X” or “Y” – this is when IDGAF really helps me. I really think it is important to set boundaries and to know that this is not being selfish. I spent many years running around dodging bullets and people pleasing, and you know what? It didn’t really matter. People still thought what they wanted. If you know you are doing the best you can, you can live with the consequences.

    • Living with the consequences aren’t so bad after you let them happen every now and then. If you live your whole life trying to avoid as many as you can, how do you prepare yourself for the inevitable big let down?

  9. Hi Vincent! I was taken aback at first, because I thought you were saying to not care about anything or anyone. But as I read through I got your message.

    Thanks!

    • Heh, I was going for that shock value and I was worried some people may be offended, but I gave my audience the benefit of the doubt and knew that they’re smart people. Glad my message came through!

  10. I think it’s very important not to steer too far into NGAF as it would turn you into a narcissist. It almost did for me, until I realized I had to find a balance.

    It’s important in some areas to focus on others responses as it allows you to adjust yourself in order to improve your skills.

    For example – Learning to be a better communicator by focusing on the responses of others and empathizing with them.

    The best way to look at it is to understand what your personal boundaries are and to enforce them when talking to other people.

    What this does is it will help maintain your respect and attention with others but at the same time, understand what you will and will not tolerate. This does a lot of things – It allows you to attract the right people into your life, attract the right relationships and have a better social life.

    Some food for thought :)

    • Good point, Onder. There is definitely a danger if someone takes the mantra too far and doesn’t apply it in the right situations. That goes with all things and like I’ve mentioned a few times before in previous comments here, I’m giving my audience the benefit of the doubt in that they have foresight to see the need for a balance. :)

  11. The phrase I use is, “how important is it?” When I consider the true importance of a situation, such as getting cut off in traffic or not marking every item off my to-do list, I find it easier to put my focus on the things that really matter to me and let go of the things that don’t.

    I have found most situations in life are neutral and it is only my perception and attitude that is positive or negative. Why would I want to worry about something neutral, that I cannot control and that does not really change my life for the better or worse?

    Have a grateful day!

    Chrysta

  12. “I don’t give a fuck” or IDGAF. Yup, that’s the way I look at things.

    Well, not everything. There are things I do care about, but even then I don’t let it worry me. I’ve learned that things tend to work out in the end. Bad things will happen whether I worry about them or not. People get hurt or lose jobs or any number of unexpected events. If I can prevent bad things from happening, I will do it, but worrying about them isn’t preventative.

    • Your last sentence is very true, Steve. Worrying doesn’t have magical properties that change the world. Although, believe it or not, there are people who believe that wishing or worrying does influence the world. I don’t know, I’m not convinced.

  13. Probably won’t be my EXACT matra, Vincent, but it does make a point. What you are really advocating is PERSPECTIVE, and whatever you can do to get some is a good thing.

  14. My motto in life is “Everything is good in moderation”. Worrying too much about things is not good, adds to your stress level, affects your health and so forth, but not worrying about anything and being in some kind of “La-La-La Land” is just as bad. A good balance in everything is the key to living a long and happy life.

    • You’ve definitely got it right, Elena! Balance is the key but how do you even determine what’s a good balance? I think we’re all fine-tuning as we go along. None of us has it figured out yet. Sure, some of us have it figured out more than others, but even as adults none of us know what we’re doing. :)

  15. I really like this quote you shared: “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” I have found this to be so true. When it comes to worry making sure we are not around people who always worry is important. You know the people I’m talking about. Those who drain your energy and happiness due to all of the issues and problems they are or could be facing in the future. They suck the life right out of others because they worry all the time. I make it a point to avoid those typed of people. Great post and thoughts bro!

    • Avoiding people is seen as cruel but it’s important once you realize that you have to be selective about who you spend your time with. I think a lot of people would get angry if you said that without explaining the reasoning. If you had told me that a few years ago I would have raised my eyebrow and assumed you were selfish, but it’s a very valid thing to do. Cut out those who bring you down and keep those around you who influence you positively. It’s not always possible, but it’s best to “optimize.”

      What I find that is worth doing is to at least give them a chance and explain to them what they’re doing. It takes tact and even then, some people will deny fault. When you’re at that point then you have to make a decision to cut them out or not.

  16. I particularly liked that last part about “pleasing others”. For me it’s just another form of selfishness, since you are doing that in order to get others to like you and show what a “great guy” you are. It’s just another form of validation and stroking one’s ego.

    Nice post, Vincent!

    • Hi Julien, you make a great point. In a way it really is selfishness disguised as being a “nice guy.” It reminds me of men who play the “nice guy” card to get close to a girl, only to show their real nature when she turns him down. It just seems incredibly dishonest.

  17. Love it! IDGAF! I’m going to use it! I try to remind myself as much as possible to not care about the small stuff and kick my ego in the butt. If I was upset about something my Mom use to always say to me “On a scale from 1 to 10, how big of a deal is it?” This always put things in to perspective for me and it’s a technique I use to this day!
    Thanks for the post!
    Tamera xo

  18. reflectingalife July 11, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    As an ex worry-wort I eventually gave myself a set time to worry, half an hour, that went down to fifteen minutes because I couldn’t actually fill half an hour with worries and then I found I didn’t have enough for fifteen minutes, so I began to just let go of stuff that bothered me right in the moment.

    Whatever works, works Vincent, your phrase, any phrase, little techniques – whatever helps us exchange those worrying thoughts for something that feels a whole lot better.

    • That’s a great idea! I remember I deployed that technique a few times last year but had forgotten about it. Wish I had remembered but I’m going to keep it in mind. Giving yourself a set amount of time to think things over can let you take care of it on the spot then focus back into what you need to be doing.

  19. Great post Vincent!

    The IDGAF attitude not only saves us from the pain from worrying today (as well as living with potential embarrassment, shame, etc.) it also allows us to use all our mental energy on things that really do matter and that we can change. That’s really powerful stuff!

  20. “If you feel like you left a poor first impression or you’re scared of what people think, don’t worry about it. Everyone is too busy worrying about themselves and what others think of them. They don’t really think about you as often as you would think. Isn’t that liberating?”

    Very true.

    And really, it’s just a matter of time before all traces that we were even here disappear. So why all the inhibitions?

    Uhh . . . . that’s meant to be liberating, not depressing!

    • I don’t think that’s depressing at all. It’s liberating but certain perspectives can find that to be dreadful if they’re afraid of death. I personally find that very freeing!

  21. Vincent,

    First, I love your site!

    Second, IGDAF is a beautiful thing. I actually found myself angry and worried over an issue at my day job last week, and I was talking about it to a friend. In mid-conversation I stopped expressing anger and frustration and said “I don’t give a fuck, I’m about to be rich.” And we laughed it off and I didn’t think a thing more about the issue. Then we joked that we should make a t shirt with that saying, but I think “IDGAF – I’m About to Be Rich” would work better.

    I’ve got a blog challenge going where my goal is to exit corporate America and earn a living from my online business. So, the saying was meant to release me from the worry surrounding my job, and put confidence in the vision I have for my future. It worked!

    Stacy

    • That’s funny! I would like to see that t-shirt be made. :) Maybe that might even be the idea and path that gets you rich! T-shirt e-commerce!

      That’s a great goal and you’re further ahead than most people, Stacy. You’re envisioning it and wanting it badly. That’s a step!

      Are you already setting things up on the side as you plan your exit strategies?

      • Yes am setting it all up now. I am 11 days in to my 90 day challenge. I made it public so I would be held accountable and so others could learn with me. I’m working as though at the end of the challenge the goal will be met and I will be able to leave my job. I’m sort of looking at it like I’m not giving myself an out, there is no other option.

  22. What are the things REALLY worth worrying about?
    I am about to seriously mess up a deadline at work, and am worrying about the imagined consequences.
    So, this would be a serious thing to think about, right?
    And potentially I may lose my job…

    BUT, the worrying about these (at this moment) only imagined consequences are stopping me from working right now, so I wonder if I should really WORRY about this?

    If I had the possibility to disregard the worry thoughts completely and I still wanted to keep my job I imagine I could work on it NOW instead of getting paralyzed by fear?

    Non-attachment or what have you. So basically I should IDGAF even this serious issue, get back to work and see how it plays out. Oh, that would be sweet :-D

    • Sounds like your situation is exactly what you should be worrying about. Like I said early on, “It is meant for the worries that are of no consequence.” The possibility of losing your job is definitely a consequence you don’t want to be facing.

  23. Hi I am the worlds most worrying person i worry about i did not say bye to my mum before i leave for school i worry about that all say and if I don’t do something that I new i was ment to i will go ape! I worry about leaving home To go to school it’s the traveling that worries me i worry about the tiniest of things! My mum gave me a saying to say to my self when I get worried it is “why life if your only going to worry” and ” there is no need to worry be ause there is nothing to worry about” thank you for posting it it realy helped me thank you!!

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