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How to Stop Worrying and Regain Control of Your Life

How to Stop Worrying and Regain Control of Your Life

Have you ever experienced this — your brain couldn’t stop replaying worst-case scenarios as you close your eyes?

What if I can’t make a great impression on my first day of work? Let’s see, I will wear this shirt with that pair of pants. Will I overdress? Oh no, I need to wake up earlier to iron my shirt. Wait, did I lock the door?

Usually, most of these worries are unnecessary.

In a study done in 2015[1], researchers discovered neurotic, worry-obsessed, and anxious people tend to be more creative. Unfortunately, while over-worriers are blessed to be extraordinarily creative, it is their creativity that fuels their anxiety.

Over-worriers put their thoughts in the wrong places

They use their imaginations in the wrong way. They tend to put their creativity to generate what ifs, could haves, should haves, instead of solving problems.

They focus too much on the future. American motivational speaker Leo F. Buscaglia says it best, “Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.”

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They keep guessing other’s mind. Reading someone’s mind doesn’t work usually. It will end up in more worries and misunderstandings.

Many people with the tendency of over-worrying believe they can hardly change this habit, or although the panic brought by over-worrying is unbearable, they can live normally after the panic recedes. So they choose to leave the problem unsolved. If that’s your thought, you should abandon it as soon as possible because…

It takes a toll on your mental health and physical health

Hypervigilance. Because of anxieties and worries, an over-thinker is constantly on the lookout for possible threats, even in the tiniest things.

Reduced concentration and indecisiveness. The brain of the over-worrier drifts in and out of their thoughts. Without focus, they can’t think properly or make decisions.

Problem-focused. Worriers are obsessed with problems instead of solutions.

Worries lower your immune system. Constant worries put you in a more tired and lethargic place, which makes you more prone to infections.

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Worries cause insomnia. With your head spinning and thoughts tossing you left and right, it’s hard to get a good night sleep.

So how can you stop worrying and overthinking?

Write off your worries

How? Whenever you are worried, list the problems bothering you and possible solutions non-stop within 3 minutes. You don’t have to be organized with your thoughts, just write as your mind flows.

Why? It’s usually the abstract and ambiguous thoughts that make you worry much. By turning the thoughts into something concrete through writing, you can empty worries and fears out of your mind. Also, thinking more of solutions can shift your attention to the outcome and action instead of the problem itself.

Example: You made an insensitive remark towards your co-worker, and you are worried she is upset with you. Instead, write down the possible actions you can take to solve the situation, like apologizing to your co-worker.

Focus on external environment instead of your inner thoughts

How? When your mind is not occupied, don’t wander off to your worries and inner thoughts, but shift your focus to something else — the details of what you see.

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Why? Science has found that a wandering mind is an unhappy mind.[2] A wandering mind usually creates negative thoughts, and most worries are self-produced. Occupying your mind with objective facts rather than subjective imagination can help you live in the present.

Example: When you are commuting to work, don’t let your idle mind wander off to personal troubles and distresses, but pay attention to the people, the scenery, or the little things next to you.

Challenge your irrational anxious thoughts

How? List your worries out and ask yourself in a third-person perspective.

  • Are there any evidences to support this thought for being true/false?
  • Can I look at this situation more positively and realistically?
  • What’s the possibility of this worry going to happen?
  • How will worrying about this help or hurt me?

Why? As humans, we are easily convinced and persuaded by our irrational thoughts because of our confirmation bias. Take a objective look at your own worries can help you eliminate unnecessary thoughts.

Example: You just pitched an idea to your boss, and you thought your performance was less than satisfactory. Start asking yourself these questions:

  • Could your boss spot the one tiny point you missed?
  • Would worrying increase the chances of your pitch being chosen?

When you rationally challenge yourself, you’ll soon realize these worries are insignificant.

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Need more guidance? Here are two books to further lead you to a less anxious and worrisome life:

How to Stop Worrying and Start Living

    This book deals with the fundamental causes of worries, and provides solutions to improve your physical health, mental health, and overall psychological mindset.

    Declutter Your Mind: How to Stop Worrying, Relieve Anxiety, and Eliminate Negative Thinking

      The authors suggest to get rid of worries, one of the most important ways is to be mindful and clean up your mental clutter.

      Featured photo credit: Cuppa Catholic via cuppacatholic.blogspot.hk

      Reference

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      Frank Yung

      Writer. Storyteller. Foodie.

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      Last Updated on January 24, 2021

      How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

      How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

      Do you say yes so often that you no longer feel that your own needs are being met? Are you wondering how to say no to people?

      For years, I was a serial people pleaser[1]. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time, especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

      But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

      It took a long while, but I learned the art of saying no. Saying no meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. When that happened, I became a lot happier.

      And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

      The Importance of Saying No

      When you learn the art of saying no, you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

      In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

      Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey, considered one of the most successful women in the world, confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything.

      Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

      Warren Buffett views “no” as essential to his success. He said:

      “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

      When I made “no” a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success, focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

      How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

      It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say no.

      From an early age, we are conditioned to say yes. We said yes probably hundreds of times in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work, to get a promotion, to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

      We say yes because we feel good when we help someone, because it can seem like the right thing to do, because we think that is key to success, and because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist.

      And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves.

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      At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we are feeling bad that we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

      The message, no matter where we turn, is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

      How Do You Say No Without Feeling Guilty?

      Deciding to add the word “no” to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say no, but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of no that you could finally create more time for things you care about.

      But let’s be honest, using the word “no” doesn’t come easily for many people.

      3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

      1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

      Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time, especially you haven’t done it much in the past, will feel awkward. Your comfort zone is “yes,” so it’s time to challenge that and step outside that.

      If you need help getting out of your comfort zone, check out this article.

      2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

      When you want to learn how to say no, remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it: who else knows about all of the demands in your life? No one.

      Only you are at the center of all of these requests. You are the only one that understands what time you really have.

      3. Saying No Means Saying Yes to Something That Matters

      When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else that we may care more about. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

      6 Ways to Start Saying No

      Incorporating that little word “no” into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

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      1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

      One of the biggest challenges to saying no is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no will reflect poorly on you?

      Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

      2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

      Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because of FOMO, even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

      Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better[2].

      3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say No

      Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say yes because we worry about how others will respond or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose their respect. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

      Keep in mind that saying no can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way.

      You might disappoint someone initially, but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to. And it will often help others have more respect for you and your boundaries, not less.

      4. When the Request Comes in, Sit on It

      Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

      Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say no. There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

      5. Communicate Your “No” with Transparency and Kindness

      When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest[3] to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

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      How do you say no? 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

        Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

        Clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

        6. Consider How to Use a Modified No

        If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” as this will give you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

        Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task, but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

        Final Thoughts

        Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

        Use the request as a way to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself.

        Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project, but not by working all weekend. You’ll find yourself much happier.

        More Tips on How to Say No

        Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

        Reference

        [1] Science of People: 11 Expert Tips to Stop Being a People Pleaser and Start Doing You
        [2] Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Tips to Get Over Your FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out
        [3] Cooks Hill Counseling: 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

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