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10 Hacks to Help You Stop Worrying Now

10 Hacks to Help You Stop Worrying Now

Does worry dominate your life?

Try these ten shortcuts to stop worrying for good.

1. Stop being superstitious that your worry is preventing bad things from happening.

Even if it’s somewhat unconscious, worriers sometimes believe that if they worry about something enough, it won’t happen.

There. Now that you’ve seen that in print, doesn’t it seem kind of silly?

The problem is, your superstition gets reinforced because most of the things that you worry about likely don’t happen.

But it’s not because you’re worrying about them – it’s just as likely that bad things wouldn’t happen even if you didn’t worry about them!

2. Choose to be motivated by something other than worry.

Another common belief about worry is that it is what motivates you to get things done.

There’s actually some truth to this.

You do get things done by worrying. It’s because you want to stop the pain of worrying so you hustle to get that task done.

However, there are so many positive ways to motivate yourself, why use something painful?

Try rewarding yourself when you get something done. Rather than removing a painful stimulus, give yourself something nice: candy, a walk, ten minutes to play Angry Birds, etc.

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(And don’t tell me that worry is the only thing that motivates you until you’ve tried five positive methods first.)

3. Realize that worrying does not help you solve a problem.

While it seems like thinking about a problem over and over will help you solve a problem, it actually won’t.

For the most part.

The common question worriers ask, “What if . . .?” actually starts the problem-solving process, but then nothing further happens.

Check this out from researcher T.D. Borovec: “Beyond this [asking ‘what if?’], worry itself does not contribute further to solving problems. One is either worrying, or one is problem solving. These two distinctive processes may alternate sequentially during a worrisome episode but never occur, by definition, at the same time.”

So, you can’t worry and problem-solve at the same time.

And worry begets anxiety which throws your body into fight-or-flight mode, not exactly conducive to problem-solving.

If you really want to be at your best to problem-solve, see #9 below.

4. Face your fear directly rather than worrying about it.

Research has found that worriers, unlike people who don’t worry, don’t have as much ability to learn from being exposed to the thing they fear.

For example, most people who fear public speaking will eventually find that it’s not as bad as they thought it was once they’ve done it a few times.

Worriers don’t do this. Scientists believe it’s because worriers don’t allow the whole emotional impact to arise for them and so they can’t add “corrective information” that allows their fear to subside.

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In short, you might be suppressing your fears through your worry.

Try to experience the things you worry about fully. Repeat the old mantra, “Feel the fear and do it anyway.”

5. Believe that you are actually more prepared for something bad happening now than you ever will be by worrying about it.

Because a lot of people think that worry will prepare them for when something bad does happen, remember what we learned above: worrying doesn’t help you solve a problem.

People are naturally resilient and that includes you. If something bad happens, you’ll likely be able to handle it without all the worrying you’re doing now.

6. Ask yourself “What’s the worst thing that can happen?”

The absolute bottom line to your worry is that whatever it is you fear is going to kill you.

It won’t.

The worst things that can happen might be bad, but they won’t kill you.

And you know what? As we’ve already discussed, you’re more prepared for the worst thing happening than you give yourself credit for.

And, most likely, when you are truthful with yourself about the worst thing that can happen, it really won’t be that bad after all.

7. Prove to yourself that most of the things you worry about never happen.

Keep what’s known as a “Worry Outcome Diary.”

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On a daily basis, write down what you are worrying about. At the end of the week, note whether the thing you worried about actually happened or not.

You’ll find that the vast majority of worrisome things never happen.

So why expend your mental and physical energy on them?

8. Try out Worry Wednesday.

A great technique for worriers is to set aside a specific time to worry. Maybe it’s thirty minutes a day or maybe it’s a whole day – Worry Wednesday or something.

During your specified time, worry as much as you can.

Outside of that time, enjoy your life!

9. Teach your muscles how to relax on cue.

It’s really, really hard to worry when your body is completely relaxed.

Just like your muscles tense up when you worry, your mind will relax when your muscles do.

Teach your body what it feels like to be relaxed by doing a short daily exercise like this.

The more you practice, the more you’ll be able to relax on cue. That way, when you start to worry, you can hit the relaxation cue and let your worries float away.

10. Spend your time here now instead of in the future.

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Probably most of your worries are about the future and include that question, “What if . . .?”

Of course, if your mind is always in the future, you’re pretty much missing out on what’s happening right now.

And right now is where your life is happening. Don’t miss it.

Use some grounding techniques with your senses to stay in the present.

Feel the surface in front of you. Is it cold? Rough? Smooth?

What do you smell in the air right now? What do you hear?

Focus on these sensations to stay in this moment which is your life rather than out in an unknown future.

 

Reference: Borkovec, T.D., Hazlett-Stevens, H., & Diaz, M.L. (1999). The Role of Positive Beliefs about Worry in Generalized Anxiety Disorder ad its Treatment. Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, 6, 126-138.

 

 

Featured photo credit:  young businessman with his head squeezed between a laptop keyboard and a rock via Shutterstock

 

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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