Something is worrying you! I can see it in your eyebrows. They are drawn up in a bunchy frown.
What are you worried about? Is it something specific and huge or a generalized nagging worry?
We are all trying our level best to get along and do something worthwhile for ourselves and each other. And yet, we seem to worry all the time.
Worry itself seems to be a big shapeless, nameless cloud that hangs over us and make us miserable. The first step toward handling something, however, is fully understanding exactly what it is.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary online, this is worry:
“To give way to anxiety or unease; allow one’s mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles”
Whatever is worrying you, There are some No-Fail tools you can use to stop allowing your mind to dwell on troubles or difficulty.
1) Understand that whatever happens in life, you can always do something about it.
Worry contains a fear of losing control or having a situation that you can do nothing about.
Once you accept the statement above, and know that there is always something you can do about it, you are coming from a place of potential control and you are already stronger.
2) Identify the problem.
Worry is a symptom. It indicates that there is an underlying problem. Sometimes it is a problem we don’t readily see. The first thing you need to do is identify what the problem actually is. There is no solution until you have fully identified the real problem
3) Write down what you can do about it.
If you are worrying about something specific that you can do something about, sit down and write out everything you can do to affect the outcome of the situation so that it is more likely to be favorable to you. Then come up with an action plan on how to handle it from start to finish.
For example, If you are worrying because your son is doing poorly in school, go find out the real situation. Look well with your own eyes and don’t just listen. Perhaps the teacher is not a great fit for your son. Perhaps your son has no idea what is expected of him. There can be many, many reasons for poor performance. You have to go and find out for yourself exactly what is going on. Be patient. Sometimes the real problem can be hidden. Talk to people and search for the truth. Once you know what the real problem is, you will see what you can do about it.
Another example is perhaps you think someone might be angry at you but you are not sure, so you worry. Go ask that person if they are angry. If they are, you have the opportunity to iron things out. If they are not, you will know you have worried over nothing.
4) Look over your life for someone who is making you feel insignificant, afraid or is ruining your confidence.
If you are worried about something non-specific, and you cannot put your finger on it, look around your environment and find out who is putting doubts in your head or taking away your confidence.
Vague and generalized worry is an indicator that there is such a person in your environment. It could be that they are planting doubts about yourself, or maybe they are saying something negative about someone else you care about. Look around your environment and see if there is someone there tossing off comments that eat away at your confidence or your trust and love for someone else. They are making your environment appear hostile and that results in worry.
5) Be prepared for a possible unhappy outcome.
Try as we might, there are some things in life that we cannot control completely. Sometimes we have to undergo medical tests that have a possibility of revealing a dreaded disease or condition.
In cases like this, I find it helpful to say, “OK, what is the worst that could happen?” When you figure out what the worst is that could happen, you can start thinking about the steps you would take to handle that worst case situation. Even confronting the worst case scenario and writing down a few things you could do about it IF it were true, can make you feel a lot more in control.
6) Plan for the best possible outcome.
So many times, your own viewpoint and positive energy really does affect the outcome of situations. Tell yourself that the job interview is over and you have aced it. Tell yourself that this tense meeting will be a piece of cake and you will end it on great terms. Whatever you believe is the best possible outcome for the problem that you have, tell yourself that that is going to occur. You never know how magical your own thoughts and positive visualizations are. I have seen miracles occur with this tool.
Are you worried about speaking in front of people? Use this tool to handle your fear.
When you start to worry or become nervous, think past the speech or presentation. Think of the happy lunch you will have afterward or the night after when you celebrate your successful speech with a glass of Merlot and a special dessert.
So many times when we have something we dread, we unconsciously fix our attention so intently on the upcoming incident that it dominates our thoughts. If you think past it, you create the future beyond it and you unfix your attention from the scary event.
This works really well, by the way when you are afraid of flying. When you start to become nervous or afraid, think of your happy landing instead of the fiery crash that you are sure is going to occur.
7) Understand that there are environmental factors designed to make you worry.
Have you ever seen a TV commercial where someone’s teeth are not white enough and they suffer socially? How about the guy with bad breath? There are so many socially unacceptable conditions that have simply been created by the media to make us worry enough to go out and buy their products.
Society today is worried about love handles, tummy bulge, toenail fungus, dandruff, body odor, stained teeth, wrinkles, dull hair, split ends and the list goes on almost forever. Before we had advertising agencies inventing these conditions, people were not nearly as worried about them.
I am not saying that things like body odor and dandruff don’t exist, but reasonable hygiene takes care of most of it.
Understand that TV, movies, magazine articles and photos are designed to control our behavior, our attention and our dollars. Don’t let them make you feel inferior to a standard that not even Charlize Theron could live up to.
9) Let go and trust others to do the right thing.
As a mom, I used to worry endlessly about my kids. When they grew up and moved out, I was not with them every day and I had no choice but to let go. The funny part is that when I did that, they started really taking on responsibility for themselves.
If you are worrying about another, let them find their way. Most of us make it through life’s challenges. You can make sure that they know you are there for them if they need a leg up, but step away. You will be happier and many times, so will they.
10) Trust yourself to handle any situation in life.
Say this simple phrase to yourself: “Whatever happens, I will find a way to handle and overcome it.”
Believe it or not, this is true. You have made It this far and have figured out everything else you needed to figure out. Whatever is worrying you will not be different. You will figure a way out of it too.
Once you have done all of the above steps, go do something really fun. Watch a funny movie or go shopping for shoes. There is nothing like pleasurable activities to pull you out of worry mode.
I am interested in your comments. If this advice has helped you, please let me know. I read and respond to all comments on my articles.
“Drag your thoughts away
from your troubles…
by the ears, by the heels,
or any other way you can manage it.”
― Mark Twain