Updated: Feb 22
Worry…every single person on this planet agonizes over something. It’s part of being human to fret about things like money, not being good enough, rejection, what people think about us, whether we made a fool out of ourselves at that dinner party or in the last meeting, our business failing, finding the perfect job or the perfect partner. The list of worries could gon for days.
WHEN IT COMES TO WORRYING...
Been there, done that, have the t-shirt and the bags under my eyes. I used to think there was something really wrong with me that I couldn’t rid myself of all my concerns. For the last four decades, I've been on a mission to figure out how to get rid of things like the anxiety that worry causes, the what ifs, and the fears.
Here's something I've come to understand … it’s not the actual worry that’s the issue, it’s what we allow it to do to us… that’s when it becomes an issue.
Draining our energy
Tying us in knots
Stopping us from taking a chance or making a change
Keeping us up at night with a case of the toss and turns
People pleasing. (As a recovering people pleaser, I know this one all too well.)
Here’s a fun little factoid; your mind doesn’t know fact from fiction or the future from the present moment. It relies on you to tell it what’s so.
That’s why when you fret over something your mind is taking those thoughts and making them feel like the truth. Feel being the operative word. And since thoughts create feelings, it's those feelings that drive action or inaction. That’s also why when you’re worried you either react to the worry in a way that might be emotionally charged or find yourself in a state of “analysis paralysis" (inaction).
So, if you feel like your worries are managing you instead of you managing them, not to worry. (No pun intended). I've got your back.
SOME WISE WORDS
And before I share some of my "go-tos" for when I'm in a place of deep-seated concern, I want to share two of my very favorite quotes that describe worry really well ..the first is from the late Erma Bombeck…
“Worry is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere.”
And my second favorite is from the Dalai Lama...
“If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it's not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.”
These quotes are so on point.
Since worry is a waste of our time, the question then becomes…then why do we do it?
It's like Erma said…it gives me something to do when I feel like I've got no options or when I'm feeling powerless. Worry takes me out of the logical part of my brain, my thinking brain…and throws me smack dab in the middle of what's called an Amygdala Hijack (the part of our brain that protects us from dangers - it activates our urge to fight, fly or freeze)…where I feel like I'm in need of fighting, flying or freezing.
And to get out of that hijacked state, and begin to manage worry, bringing my brain back online, I've found curiosity to be one of the best tools.
Being curious takes some of the emotional charge out of the worry -- the emotional charge that has me connecting with the worry and creating those sleepless nights or knots in my stomach.
So, the next time you find yourself worrying, I want to encourage you to ask…
"Is there something I can do to fix this thing that I'm worried about?"
By asking this question, or any question for that matter, you're helping to bring your own brain back online.
And this is where one of my go-to's comes in; I then engage choice. Because since worry makes us feel powerless…which, in reality we're really not, choice helps us to re-engage our personal power.
Here's a question you can ask to re-engage with your personal power when worry hits the scene.
"What do I choose to do right now instead of worry?"
And if that question doesn't ring your bell, feel free to give these a whirl.
"If worry were a person, what would I say to convince it to leave me alone?"
"What is this worry costing me?" And then, "What do I want to do to mitigate the cost?"
"What is the opposite of worry for me?" (i.e. flow, ease) - that way you can engage with those opposite feelings by doing something that produces those feelings.
FUN WAYS TO MANAGE WORRY
And now for some experiments to try. Feel free to try one or all.
Schedule Worry For Another Time When worry hits the scene, make it a point to schedule time for it later. Put it in your calendar. And then when the scheduled time arrives, if you're still worried, sit with it to process it. Journal about it. Get curious.
Throw A Worry Party If you’re going to worry you might as well make it fun. So, have yourself a little worry party.
Your favorite comfort food; this is NOT the time to count calories.
Black streamers and balloons; no party is complete without good decorations to set the mood.
A box of Kleenex; it’s cool to blubber.
A pad of paper and pen; for writing down all the funky worry feelings and negative thoughts.
With your party supplies at the ready, set your worry party time and get ready to party. Say for example you decide to “party” from 8pm - 10pm. Take that time to write down all the things you’re worried about and why. For example…
I’m worried that I’m going to lose my job because I don’t think my manager likes me.
I’m worried that my boyfriend is going to break up with me because he’ll meet someone else at work.
I’m worried that my friends think I’m weird because I want to go vegan.
Use the time to sit with your worries, but make sure you don’t go over the time you've allotted for worry. You don't want to turn your worry into that inconsiderate guest who stays well past the time the party is over.
The purpose of this worry party is to give yourself the space and the time to get your worries out of your head where they have a tendency to grow larger. Worry is similar to bacteria; if it’s left in the dark it will grow, but when you shine a light on it, it diminishes in size.
VERY IMPORTANT: Once the party is over show worry to the door by ripping up or burning what you wrote. Oh, and if you don’t need the entire time allotted for your party, no worries, it’s all good.
Change “What if…?” worries to “How can I…?” How can I, empowers. When you feel empowered you take yourself out of the worry zone because empowering feelings are much stronger than worry. One of the best ways to feel empowered is to arm yourself with viable actions that you can take when worry causes you to “what if”.
Ask yourself this question for every “what if”;
“How can I ________________________?”
For example, let’s say you find yourself saying, “What if I flunk this test?” Ask yourself, “How can I make sure to pass this test?” And then let the answers fly.
Reject Worry and Give It the Bouncer Boot Do you ever worry about being rejected or something not working out?
If you answered "yes"… first, you need to know that you're not alone and second, know that it's absolutely natural. Every person has a need to feel accepted, loved, and wanted. Particularly when it comes to the things that are important, like that cool job or that loving relationship.
But what if I told you that there was no such thing as rejection?
Hard to believe, I know, but there's not. And here's why…
If something or someone doesn’t work out, that’s just the Universe’s way of protecting you, your time, your energy, and your heart from something or someone that’s not a good fit. Ensuring that you have the space for that someone or something that is.
How cool is that? It’s like having your own personal bouncer. Someone that “controls” access to you, making sure that nothing and no one gets through unless they’re a good fit.
If you’re currently worried about being rejected be sure to ask yourself this question, “If this doesn’t work out, what will I have space for? And then take solace in knowing that something bigger and better is on its way. Bouncer approved.
Present Moment Mojo: Are you worrying about something that has not happened? Or are you thinking about something that happened and you’re worried that it will happen again?
Either way, worry will take you on a little trip out of the present moment so it can continue to “mess” with your mind. You see, worry only likes to hang out in the future where events have yet to happen and may not happen. Or it likes to park itself in the past and cause ruminating thoughts.
So, if you find yourself taking that little trip with worry, try engaging your present moment mojo with this simple, but effective exercise.
Take a deep breath and look around.
What do you hear right now?
What do you see right now?
What do you feel on your skin right now?
What do you taste right now?
Now take another deep breath. AWESOME! You’ve just used your senses as a way to get off the worry trip and back into the present moment where everything is OK.
I'd, of course, love to hear your thoughts and any questions you might have.