Everyone worries and that’s ok. It’s time to be concerned when the worry becomes unhealthy and is stifling your life. When we worry we are usually afraid of an outcome of an event that may happen in the future, based on a similar experience in the past. The truth is that nine times out of ten, what we are afraid is going to happen, never will, and the past experience you are relating to, is only slightly similar, and therefore doesn’t apply.
What happens when we worry?
When we worry three things tend to happen; we miss out on opportunities, lose connection with others, and it’s physically detrimental to our health. These are the costs of worry and usually when we are in the wraps of anguish we aren’t even aware of them because we are too focused on what it is we are afraid is going to happen.
Worry costs us in missed opportunities. When our head is filled with problems, real or imagined, there isn’t any room to see opportunities that come our way. We waste hours, days and sometimes weeks filled with distress, running frantically in circles instead of making clear decisions and moving forward. People, places and even solutions are missed as we torture ourselves over what might be going to occur.
We lose contact with people while we worry about what they might be thinking. Conversations are jilted and lack depth because we aren’t being present to what is really being said. Instead, our head is filled with what if’s, and attempts to imagine what the other person is thinking.
The physical stress caused by worry could also kill you. I know this sounds serious but stress causes more dis-ease in the body than any other emotion. So if you are spending the majority of your day stressed out, eventually it’s going to affect your health negatively. Common tell-tale signs are not sleeping, headaches, skin conditions, heart issues, and the list goes on.
Why do we continue to worry if it’s so bad for us?
The same reason we do anything as human beings; because it benefits us. When we worry it’s a familiar feeling and, therefore comfortable, it keeps us from changing or growing, and it feeds our fears that we aren’t good enough, capable, or deserving.
The familiarity of fear and worry is stifling and yet comforting at the same time. It’s important to us that what we feel we are familiar with because we fear surprises and the unknown. Therefore, the more we worry, the more it perpetuates the problem because it becomes familiar to us.
The thought of what ‘might’ happen creates fear which then makes us either take unnecessary action, run away from the situation or simply stay stuck in the moment frozen in time. Usually we freeze, remaining stuck in the worry and never actually taking action to move forward to a solution. This benefits us by keeping us the same. We don’t take risks if we are worried and, therefore we don’t put ourselves at risk and we remain ‘safe’ but the same.
Our fear loves worry. In fact, they are best friends because fear feeds off our concerns and doubts. So, when we are worried, fear is at its most happiest. What might start out as a small concern, ends up spiralling into a full blown worry as your fear links it to your deepest fears of inadequacy and self-doubt, blowing it out of proportion completely.
How can I stop the worry?
It comes down to three primary steps; take a reality check, create worst case scenario and choose to be present. Which all sound easy enough and yet can be challenging to practice when you are in the worry washing machine, swirling around with no clear direction.
The easiest thing to do is to write down the truth. I find writing an excellent tool to be able to see reality. Write down what the facts are, plus every possibility of what could happen. Then take a look at your list and you will soon realise that there isn’t any benefit to the worry because either there is such a small chance what you think is going to happen ever will, or, there are too many possible outcomes that you just don’t know what could happen.
Another great tool to use is to create the worst case scenario. If you are worried about losing your job then imagine what your life would be like if you did. What usually happens when you do this is you suddenly realise that what you were worried about happening actually isn’t that bad if it did happen.
Focusing on the present moment is also valuable. When we worry we are looking into the future which is unpredictable, regardless of how good we think we are of imagining it. So, a better thing to do is to simply focus on the present moment and fully be in that moment. Keep your thoughts on what you are doing now, rather than what you think is going to happen in the future.
By focusing on the present moment, you will have less worry, better conversations and you just might have the head space available to see opportunities when they come your way. Plus you’ll feel a lot better for it.