* 7 minute read *
Here at Be Awesome we talk a lot about fear. How fear can be a powerful force in protecting us from danger. How fear can be a powerful force in crippling us, preventing us from taking action. But also, if we are courageous, how fear can become a powerful messenger to motivate us to take powerful action.
Often perceiving fear is pretty black and white. We feel it all through our body. It doesn’t feel great and so we are pretty quick to take some kind of action to get rid of it (in both life-giving and life-taking ways).
This week, however, I want to talk about something related to fear but far more subtle and potentially more destructive; worry.
Worry, if we allow it, will infiltrate our every thought and action, taking an enormous toll on both our physical and emotional well-being.
STOP FOR ONE SECOND.
> Scan your mind really quickly. What are you thinking about?
I’m willing to bet that there is at least one thing in the back of your mind that you are worrying about right now.
> Maybe you’re worried that you “should” be doing something else and so you’re trying to read this post really quickly.
> Maybe you’re worried that you won’t have enough money to get you through this week and you’ll have to dip into your savings.
> Maybe you’re worried that you left the iron on at home this morning and that the house could be on fire.
> Maybe you’re worried that you’ve parked in an illegal space and that when you go outside later you’ll have a parking ticket.
Whatever it is, just notice for one second how even this little bit of worry holds you back from being completely present in the here and now.
This sense of distraction and not quite being present doesn’t just remain in our minds. It spills over into our outer world too. We’ve all had frustrating conversations with people we know who are somewhere else, off in their thoughts, distracted by their worries. Sometimes that person is us.
So, we all agree, worry is unhealthy. But how do we overcome worry? How do we manage it?
Is it easy enough to just say “don’t worry, be happy”? (Apologies in advance if you have that song stuck in your head for the rest of the day!)
For me, the answer isn’t that simple. I’ve learnt to deal with worry in an empowering way and I’d like to share the few pieces of wisdom that were passed on to me, to hopefully support you in dealing with worry on a day-to-day basis.
Back at uni, during a very difficult patch in my life I sought some support from an awesome counsellor called Glen (who I’ve mentioned a couple of times before on this blog). At the time, I was stressed out of my brain and I was offloading all of my “issues” onto Glen. After a massive offload one week I asked for Glen’s advice. And this was his reply:
“You are a great worrier. You love to worry. And that’s great, don’t try to fight it. In fact, I challenge you to become a professional worrier!”
Not exactly the conventional response one would expect in such a situation but it was excellent advice nonetheless. Let me explain why.
Rather than wanting me to feel guilty about worrying (I admit that worrying about how much I worried was one of my many worries at the time!), Glen was encouraging me to just accept myself where I was at. It’s true, I’m not perfect and I still like to worry.
However, and this was where the real wisdom lies, Glen encouraged me to control the worry, rather than letting it control me.
And so now I’d like to share the process for controlling worry that Glen introduced to me and that has supported me so well over the last few years:
1. Create space to worry
Set aside a certain amount of time every day, every week or at a frequency that suits you (you’ll find what works for you) to worry! Be disciplined about this, think of it like exercise; something that will have a great preventative influence on your everyday well-being. For me it’s usually about half an hour, once a week.
2. Worry like a Pro!
Write down every single little thing that you are worried about. This is your chance to worry-purge! Use a notebook, your laptop or even your mobile phone, anything you have handy. Once you get the big worries written down, you’ll start to realise that there are a whole bunch of little niggling worries hanging around in the background that you didn’t even know about. You’ll find, just by writing down your worries that you’ll start to dissolve the emotion behind them and already you’ll be feeling a lot better (remember Yoda’s quote “named must your fear be, before banish it you can”).
Now stop and take a moment to reflect on your worries. Look at them objectively as if they were someone else’s. I like to do this on my computer with one column titled “Worries” and another “What Can I Do?”. Now start to think about what actions you could take to overcome each worry. An example for me this week was that I’ve been worried about my health; I still haven’t properly recovered from my recent flu. So one action for me was to go and see a doctor and get my neck adjusted by the chiro.
You’ll find that some of your worries can be overcome through immediate action however for others (like “I’m worried about what people will think if I…”) you’ll realise that you have no control over them whatsoever. In situations where we can have no control, we have no other choice but to surrender to the universe. Letting go is often difficult but if we are realistic and stop and look at the facts (in the same way as if we were supporting a friend) then we can honestly accept the things that we can change and let go of the things that we can’t.
I hope this process supports you as it’s supported me. I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback on your own techniques for managing worry.
Remember, an amateur worrier, worries in small doses all day, every day until it saps their mojo. A Worrier Pro sets aside small chunks of time to worry intensively as a means of identifying the necessary actions required to power on toward greater freedom. Choose the awesome option and worry like a Pro!
Til next week Be Awesome!
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