Do you ever find yourself on a multi-hour or multi-day adventure, and worries or anxieties start coming to the surface?
Will there be enough room at the campsite for me?
Will I find water to drink along the way?
Will my body hold up for this odyssey?
Or perhaps they are other stressors about life, like finances, health, relationships or family?
Whatever the worries, they can often circulate in our minds like a record on repeat, creating fear and becoming a fixation that, among other things, removes us from the present moment.
Of course, nature and movement can be great tools for working through life's challenges. I'm referring to the sort of 'stuck thinking' that doesn't make room for hope and creative solutions.
Over the years, I've found that fear about the future and the unknown, and the desire to try and control them, are prevalent in my life.
I am thankful for the awareness, because I've come to believe that if something is buried in the subconscious, it can be hard to examine it. But, once I can acknowledge it, no matter how uncomfortable of a realization it might be, I can start to work through it and ideally transform it into a more ideal approach to life.
Recently, I had a very powerful tool show up in my life that has been helping me notice and navigate the concerns that percolate and play on repeat.
It's a gift from motivational speaker Mel Robbins (@mel.robbins). It's a simple sentence that I can bring with me anywhere, and doesn't cost a dime or weigh an ounce.
When I started to notice myself caught in concerns about the unknown, I say to myself, "What if it all works out?"
"What if it all works out?"
This quick question instantly relaxes the tension in my body, settles the stressful chemistry I've created, and gives my nervous system a sense of relief and release. It reminds me to step back and acknowledge the opportunity for growth and a mindset shift.
Of course, this mantra isn’t some magic wand that makes everything 'work out' the way my expectations think it 'should'.
Rather it reminds me that no matter how things turn out, I'll be able to handle the outcome, or develop the skills to do so, and it will be exactly as it needs to be.
Maybe the first come, first serve campsite will be full, but someone will offer to share their space and I'll make an inspiring new friend?
Maybe it will encourage me to push past that set destination, challenging myself physically and mentally, leading me to a new place I wouldn't have otherwise arrived at?
Maybe I will be forced to get creative about finding another place to pitch my tent, learning to have faith that there is always room for me in this world?
Coming up with these outcomes to combat the concerns is not the point of this practice — though they can be helpful tools for manifesting what you would want, instead of focusing on what you don't.
On a recent bikepacking trip, my partner Mathieu and I found ourselves riding along the popular Greenbrier River Trail in West Virginia.
As it got later into the day, every campsite we passed was full, and I began to fret that the last few tent spots that lay ahead would hand us the same fate.
As soon as I noticed the wheels of terror turning, I asked myself, "What if it all works out?" And, I felt calm.
When we arrived at the next campsite, a vibrant couple in their 70s was pitching their tent and had all their belongings laid out on the picnic table. It was theirs.
Even though the spot was taken, we decided to stop and ask them about their trip, as we're endlessly inspired by older people still out on awesome adventures.
After a few minutes, they pointed to a patch of flat grass a few feet away from their tent pad and asked us if we wanted to share the campsite with them.
Not only did we share space, but we had a wonderful evening getting to know each other. They made us a big batch of hot oatmeal for breakfast and we came away with two new friends and some beautiful memories.
Every time these situations 'work out', it helps me grow my faith muscle. It makes me more apt to trust that the universe is conspiring to help me.
Less stress + more fun = a better life.
I've come to understand that things always 'work out' — they just sometimes work out in a way you wouldn't expect, and that's the beauty of life.
There is often an opportunity for growth, learning, connection and expansion beyond our comfort zone if we can lean into this idea.
Because, despite our reptilian brains’ desire for comfort, control and the known, the only thing we really have a say in, is our reaction to the situations that present themselves in life. What mindset and stories do we create and carry?
Adventure and exploration can be amazing vehicles for growing self awareness, transcending traumas, healing our hearts, redirecting our energy, and focusing on gratitude; but whether they have that impact or not is largely up to us.
So, in the middle of your next worry-filled feedback loop during an adventure or otherwise, see if you can offer yourself an opportunity to shift perspectives and break the cycle by asking yourself,
"What if it all works out?"
You might be surprised by what shows up.
Ali Becker is a freelance adventure writer and narrative storyteller who shares compelling conversations about personal transformations, overcoming limitations, wellness education and adventurous situations. You can follow her rambling adventures on social at @thisisalibecker.