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Stop Worry in Its Tracks With This Simple Trick

Stop Worry in Its Tracks With This Simple Trick

“How am I going to pay my bills? I have no money and no income. I don’t have a job. Where and how can I find employment? No one wants to hire me, I’m too old. I’m at the point where many companies offer buy-outs. Beside, the economy is terrible and no one is hiring. How am I going to pay my bills, I have no money?”

This is an example of a worry whirlpool that many of us experience. Worry is that quagmire of circular thinking we get stuck in when we are afraid, as it involves circular thoughts based on fear. We’ve all experienced it: if not about finance, then about relationships or performance.

Whether you are preparing for a date or just completed one, fear can produce worry. You might get stuck focusing on questions that have no immediate answer, for example. Before the date you might think: “Will he like me?” or “Am I dressed appropriately?” After the date, other questions can be found running around in your head. We frequently worry about what other people think about us and/or our performance. “Was that the correct way to handle the situation, or was there something else I should have done?” or perhaps “I wonder if they will be pleased with my presentation.”

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One often-recommended method to counteract worry is to stop, take a deep breath, and let it out slowly while relaxing your body. If you are mired deep in the worry whirlpool, however, you can’t relax. If you find yourself stuck in this thought circle quagmire and are having a difficulty finding  an escape, here’s a simple trick I found:

Stop the Worry Cycle

What works is to stop and focus externally on where you are physically, with no valuation or judgement. It’s that simple to stop the worry whirlpool.

Here’s an example:

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Right now I am sitting on a chair with my feet on the ground, in my home office. The chair has wheels, a low back and no arm rests. It has a gray, burlap textured covering. I am typing on my computer keyboard. My keyboard is plastic and black with white letters.

Notice how it is all external details: just facts. I don’t mention that the burlap textured covering FEELS rough, as that would be a judgement. I don’t mention the small fan keeping me cool or that my office is a mess—those would all be judgements as well.

This thought process of focusing on the external physical facts stops the emotions in a manner that trying to “relax” muscles never manages to attain. I think that is because “relaxing” is internal and similar to an emotion, and it is emotion that triggers the cycle in the first place.

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You see, emotions are first presented in the body. This is from the evolution of the fight-or-flight response controlled by the portion of the brain called the amygdala, which also handles emotion. To get past the emotion and think rationally, you need to activate your prefrontal cortex—the reasoning part of your brain. That’s what focusing on the external physical details does for you: it activates your brain’s reasoning center. Once the circling thoughts are stopped, you can begin thinking logically and rationally again to realize what you are afraid of and thinking about what, if any, actions you can take to reduce that fear.

You can use this process for many varieties of worry, because worry is a manifestation of anxiety: an emotional response. Once you can think without anxiety, you can develop a non-emotional plan of action, even if that action is nothing but deciding on acceptance of the reality that there is nothing you can do to change what happened.

Financial worry is usually a fear of failure. After stopping the circling thoughts, you are able to once again use the logical, rational part of your brain to identify this fear of failure. Then you can developed a plan of action, which really fights against fear.

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Dating fear is the fear of the unknown. You don’t know what your date is thinking, and you can’t know without an extremely intimate and honest conversation. So, the first step is to stop the emotional thinking. Once you can stop the emotional response, you can rationally think about what you can and can’t do about it. You can call and ask your date about the plans and what the dress code might be. After the fact, you can’t change what happened on last night’s date, but you can learn from it and change how you act on the next one.

The next time you find yourself stuck in the worry whirlpool, stop and focus externally on your physical location and surroundings.

More by this author

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Last Updated on January 18, 2019

7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

Some people will have a rain cloud hanging over them, no matter what the weather is outside. Their negative attitude is toxic to your own moods, and you probably feel like there is little you can do about it.

But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

If you want to effectively deal with negative people and be a champion of positivity, then your best route is to take definite action through some of the steps below.

1. Limit the time you spend with them.

First, let’s get this out of the way. You can be more positive than a cartoon sponge, but even your enthusiasm has a chance of being afflicted by the constant negativity of a friend.

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In fact, negativity has been proven to damage your health physically, making you vulnerable to high levels of stress and even cardiac disease. There’s no reason to get hurt because of someone else’s bad mood.

Though this may be a little tricky depending on your situation, working to spend slightly less time around negative people will keep your own spirits from slipping as well.

2. Speak up for yourself.

Don’t just absorb the comments that you are being bombarded with, especially if they are about you. It’s wise to be quick to listen and slow to speak, but being too quiet can give the person the impression that you are accepting what’s being said.

3. Don’t pretend that their behavior is “OK.”

This is an easy trap to fall into. Point out to the person that their constant negativity isn’t a good thing. We don’t want to do this because it’s far easier to let someone sit in their woes, and we’d rather just stay out of it.

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But if you want the best for this person, avoid giving the false impression that their negativity is normal.

4. Don’t make their problems your problems.

Though I consider empathy a gift, it can be a dangerous thing. When we hear the complaints of a friend or family member, we typically start to take on their burdens with them.

This is a bad habit to get into, especially if this is a person who is almost exclusively negative. These types of people are prone to embellishing and altering a story in order to gain sympathy.

Why else would they be sharing this with you?

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5. Change the subject.

When you suspect that a conversation is starting to take a turn for the negative, be a champion of positivity by changing the subject. Of course, you have to do this without ignoring what the other person said.

Acknowledge their comment, but move the conversation forward before the euphoric pleasure gained from complaining takes hold of either of you.

6. Talk about solutions, not problems.

Sometimes, changing the subject isn’t an option if you want to deal with negative people, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be positive.

I know that when someone begins dumping complaints on me, I have a hard time knowing exactly what to say. The key is to measure your responses as solution-based.

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You can do this by asking questions like, “Well, how could this be resolved?” or, “How do you think they feel about it?”

Use discernment to find an appropriate response that will help your friend manage their perspectives.

7. Leave them behind.

Sadly, there are times when we have to move on without these friends, especially if you have exhausted your best efforts toward building a positive relationship.

If this person is a family member, you can still have a functioning relationship with them, of course, but you may still have to limit the influence they have over your wellbeing.

That being said, what are some steps you’ve taken to deal with negative people? Let us know in the comments.

You may also want to read: How to Stop the Negative Spin of Thoughts, Emotions and Actions.

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