Worrying about relationships, finances, work, the past, or the present is exhausting and counterproductive. Unfortunately, it’s also human nature. This month we’re asking ourselves the question, “Why Worry?” Break free from worry’s cycle of anxiety and fear and cultivate greater joy and peace in every aspect of your life.
Words of Inspiration
Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength. — Leo Buscaglia
Worry gives a small thing a big shadow. — Swedish Proverb
You can’t wring your hands and roll up your sleeves at the same time. — Pat Schroeder
Some worrying is a normal part of life and can be helpful if it motivates you to take something seriously, to solve a problem, or take needed action. But if you find yourself stuck in a state of worry, it can be harmful.
What is Worry?
Worry generally stems from a lack of certainty, the realization that you can’t predict what will happen tomorrow, and the knowledge that you don’t have full control over your future.
At its root, worry represents an inability to trust in the goodness of life. While most actions and events have numerous possible outcomes, worrywarts focus on worst-case scenarios. Instead of worrying about negative outcomes, imagine and hope for the best. Concentrating on happy endings creates the expectation that all will be well, and hope keeps worry at bay.
While you can’t break the cycle of worry by simply telling yourself not to do it anymore, you can practice techniques to tame your worries.
What You Can Do About Worry
Most of us have mixed feelings about worries. On one hand, worries are bothersome; they keep you from sleeping and leave you feeling nervous and distracted. But ironically, worrying can also give a sense of control. It’s common to subconsciously believe worrying helps predict the future — so when you think, “Something terrible is going to happen!” you’re steeling your nerve to mentally prevent an unpleasant surprise.
Thinking about what may go wrong can temporarily distract you from your anxious feelings but it doesn’t make life more predictable or solve your problems. Worrying and problem solving are two very different things. Problem solving involves evaluating a situation, coming up with steps to deal with it, and then taking action to implement your plan. Next time you find yourself worrying, practice problem solving instead.
Tame Your Worries
The most fundamental step to neutralize worry is to release attachment to control. You may have heard the phrase, “Hold loosely the things of this world.” Learn to loosen your grasp on your desires, your hopes, and your fears. Then resolve to face reality as it comes, letting go of control to restore your balance and feel more peaceful.
Tips for Stopping Worry in Its Tracks!
Some practical ways to battle worry:
- Focus on the present. Worry loves dwelling on the past and second-guessing your decisions and actions. It also fixates on the future, fearing and dreading what lies ahead. Live in the present to keep worry at bay and fully enjoy life.
- Practice zen habits. Calming habits like deep breathing, meditation, and exercise can help you live in the moment and center yourself. Repeating a mantra, such as “Focus on the present,” “This will pass,” or “I am enough,” is a healthy habit that can help keep worry at bay.
- Accept your limitations. Sometimes you need to remind yourself you’re not in control of everything – and that’s okay!
- Make a plan. While much in life seems out of your control, setting goals and making plans for different possible outcomes can help you feel prepared and pinpoint a course of action to positively impact your situation.
- Let it go! Robert Eliot said, “Rule number one is, don’t sweat the small stuff. Rule number two is, it’s all small stuff.” If you find yourself magnifying and worrying about small things, step back and put them into context to keep them from seeming more important than they really are.
- Wean yourself from worry. To compartmentalize your worries, designate a time and place to worry — say, ten minutes in your basement or five minutes in a conference room after lunch. When you find yourself beginning to worry, remind yourself to hold off and save it for your “worry time” and place. Over time, go to that place less and less and shorten the designated “worry time.”
Focus on the Future …
At Leap Forward Coaching we have a process to help you stop worry in its tracks and live a more joyful, productive life. Our thoughtful methods help you cultivate peace by focusing on the here-and-now and refusing to give worry power over you.
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© 2014, Leap Forward Coaching
[…] Say no to worry. Worry can cloud your judgment and paralyze you when you’re struggling to make a decision. Recognize there really are no “wrong” decisions, just as there are no “perfect” decisions – every choice has positive and negative consequences. (Read my tips for battling worry here.) […]