“One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.”–Dale Carnegie
Worrying is a habit that can create so much anxiety during the day as well as cause sleepless nights. Stress can lead us down the path of high anxiety: racing thoughts, regrets of past events and knots in your stomach about things yet to come. So many people have worries spiraling out of control, affecting their well-being and quality of life. But the fact of the matter is worrying as you know it doesn’t work.
What is worry?
The definition of worrying is “to torment oneself with or suffer from disturbing thoughts; fret.” Your brain is hardwired to help you survive and fix problems. In the meantime, your mind can tumble “what if’s” over and over trying to solve your dilemma. It’s not only that you worry about stressful things. It’s the extra kick in the pants judging yourself about your past actions that doesn’t help matters. For example, you’re worrying about money and you regret buying a new car. You are first worrying about money but then add the extra kick beating up on yourself about making the purchase that may look something like this:
“I am so stupid for buying that car. I’ll never be able to afford it. What was I thinking?”
“I never think anything through before I make a decision. I’m such a loser.”
To some, these statements might sound familiar. You worry, and then add insult to injury by beating yourself up over your decision.
Worrying doesn’t work.
Let’s explore different ways to kick worrying to the curb:
Get your facts straight. It’s hard to tell what truth from fiction is when you worry. You might have worried so much that you have created exactly how things are going to turn out before it actually happens. Here’s an exercise to try: get a piece of paper and write down your biggest worry. Divide the paper in half, with the left side filled with facts about your problem and the right side filled with your worries. Now read through your list. This is a great way to see the reality of your situation and what untruths your mind has created by worrying.
Live in the moment. You’ve probably heard about living one day at a time. It’s a staple of 12 step programs but also can apply to worrying as well. Live in just for today and do the very best you can. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow isn’t here yet. How can you stop worrying from crushing you? Think about how a ship has stop gaps to prevent sinking at sea. A ship hits a reef and the hull becomes punctured. The ship has built-in damage control by having water tight compartments so the rest of the ship doesn’t flood. Focusing on what you are doing at the moment develops your own water tight integrity just like the ship. Toss worrying overboard, stay afloat and keep focus on having the best day possible.
Forgive yourself. Keep a journal or small notepad with you and write down your worries as they come up. Forgiveness is the key when dealing with worries. Give yourself the grace to be human. It does not serve you to beat yourself up when you are worrying about a mistake. That only drives you down further and really doesn’t solve the problem.
What happens when you worry? Share your comments and worry strategies below!
For over 25 years in the health care profession, Lisa Birnesser has studied stress relief techniques and have helped hundreds of people reduce stress in their lives. Lisa specializes in stress management coaching by helping people do what matters most every day.