The Problem with Preoccupation

November 4, 2015

The word preoccupation, as its name suggests, means to address before it is time. When we live preoccupied about tomorrow, we are unable to enjoy the moment, the now, the present. That is, our concerns paralyze and immobilize us in the present.

How many times have we been unable to sleep because we’re mulling over a problem? This causes physical and mental exhaustion, which ultimately backfires in terms of dealing with whatever problem we’re struggling with. When we are exhausted our decision-making ability may become impaired.

What’s more, often we’re obsessing about imaginary problems. Many people find themselves in an infinite loop of worry, creating imaginary monsters, devising a thousand and one disasters that may happen to them. They do not live in the present because they are too preoccupied with future worries that, in 90% of cases, will not happen.

So how can we prevent preoccupation with the future from keeping us trapped in worries? By practicing living a carefree life.

Step on the brake

When our head is preparing to run a marathon of fifty imaginary problems, slow down. Take a breath. When we’re living in the future the speed of our thoughts makes our mind goes beyond what’s rational. We even become futurists and make predictions that are as fateful and improbable as our level of concern.

When faced with a recurrent concern, visualize the worst of the worst that could happen, and you’ll see it’s not that bad. While reflecting, you’ll understand that the chances of all this happening are unlikely.

There are things beyond our control such as life and death, natural disasters and accidents. And as much as you worry, it won’t do anything to help you. If you learn to live your life without worries, you’ll be much more prepared to deal with these situations if they occur. Your mind will not be exhausted by anticipation and you’ll be full of solutions to take care of the situation.

Don’t take on the problems of others

As much as it causes you distress, your partner’s problems are exactly that: your partner’s problems. Be empathetic and try to help as best as you can, but learn not to take ownership of other’s dilemmas. Do not torment yourself with problems that do not concern you; you have enough problems of your own.

Get rid of the “what ifs”

The “what ifs …” are imaginary friends that are have a habit of breaking into your thoughts, causing you to come up with thousand and one questions. What if … I’m not making the right decision? … What if I get fired tomorrow?




The what ifs cause unnecessary stress. If the decision isn’t correct, you will have learned how to make it better for the next time. Those “what if” thoughts are wrong more than 90% of the time. Think about how you can use that brainpower in a more enriching way.

Focus on the present moment

When we’re preoccupied we don’t live in real time. We live in a fictional future that prevents us from enjoying that coffee with your friend, that book you were so eager to read, that conversation, or just the wonderful feeling of relaxing and not thinking about anything.

Learn to stop worrying. Get outside, breathe, observe, listen, taste and feel that time with all your senses. Time flies, and past moments never return. So send your “what ifs” walking because today you have plans that are much more beautiful to worry about.