Worry About the Things that You Can Change

Worry About the Things that You Can Change

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Are you a worrier? Do you worry that you get worried by small things, big things, ALL things? The thing is – worrying takes up a lot of time and energy that can be better used elsewhere. Dispense with it wherever possible.

Worrying is a common human emotion that usually occurs when an outcome is uncertain, or something might happen over which we have no control. Let’s think about control for a moment.

This thing you worry about. Do you have any control over the matter? Can you change it? If you don’t have any control over what’s worrying you, and you can’t change it –  then don’t worry.

If you think you should be able to control everything – who appointed you Managing Director of the Universe?

You may not be able to control events or other people, but you can control your own emotions. You can take control of worrying, and if you like, delete it from your life. No worries.

Does the thought of having no worries worry you?

You probably already know that anxiety and worry cost time and add no value whatsoever to what you are doing. So why do it?

Do you only worry about work-related things, or does anxiety affect your personal life too? Whether you suffer from worrying about a particular thing – your health, your marriage – or from what is known as ‘free-floating anxiety’ – worrying about all sorts of things you can’t affect, or worrying about things in general, then you’ve probably realised that you may need more help than I can provide here. For now, we will allay your mild, niggling worries. and help you to control that tendency.

If you are somebody who does worry, what is causing that?

Dean Hawkes of Columbia University once said  “Half the worry in the world is caused by people trying to make decisions before they have sufficient knowledge on which to base a decision.”

He makes a very good point. So – get the facts, weigh them up and then make a decision. The important thing to do once you have made your decision is to ACT on it. Don’t procrastinate. Don’t spend your time worrying about what could go wrong. Look instead at the positives, and focus on them.

Before you are tempted to worry about a problem – take stock of it and ask yourself the following: 

  • What is the problem?
  • What is the cause of the problem?
  • What are the possible solutions?
  • What is the best solution?

You will be amazed how simple the initial “worry” will become and how easily resolved it can be.

If this approach does not work for you, then you can take it one step further, and pander to your need to catastrophise. Face the very worst case scenario. Ask yourself these 3 questions:

  • What is the absolute worst thing that could happen?
  • What are the chances of this actually happening?
  • What would I or could I do about it, if that did happen?

Considering worst case scenarios, then visualising and finding solutions for them, is one of the best ways to deal with anxieties. You may find that the worst thing that can happen isn’t insurmountable. Or you may be able to laugh at the ridiculousness of your worry when you actually put it into perspective.

Jack: OMG! I have forgotten my mother-in-law’s birthday party! OMG! I am a dead man! I can’t go home. What am I going to do?
Jill: What’s the worst thing that can happen?
Jack: She might never speak to me again!
Jill: That’s the worst thing. Your mother-in-law won’t talk to you.
Jack: Yeah. Oh. Wait. No. That’s not so bad.
Jill: OK. So what’s the worst thing?
Jack: My wife will kill me?
Jill: Really. How, precisely, will she kill you?
Jack: Painfully. Oh, you mean, how? Erm. With a look. That look.

Focus on a solution. Your entrepreneurial creativity will find solutions to even the toughest scenarios. This exercise gets you to confront your worst fears and – more importantly – to provide practical resolutions for them. Once you have a plan to address the worst thing that can happen, the problem and uncertainty is minimised. That allows you to move on.

After you have considered your worst case scenario, if you do discover that there is nothing you can do about it, embrace the certainty. It can be a relief to be absolved of choice and resign yourself to the inevitable. If you know something is going to happen and you cannot change it, then live with it! Enjoy the ride and enjoy the learning, since there is nothing else you can do.

Another common problem is worrying about the past. Now, I have met some very clever people in my time, but I have yet to meet anyone who can turn back time. Don’t waste time worrying about something in the past that has gone. There is nothing you can you can do about it, other than to learn from it and take the learning forward to inform the future. Leave unhelpful emotions in the past, where they belong. Reflect on what has happened. Reflect on what you have learnt about what has happened. Decide what you’ll do differently in the future. Embrace it as a great learning opportunity, and move on.

Develop a positive mental attitude. Know that it takes as much time and energy to do something about a problem or fix the thing we’re worried about, as it does to worry about it. Instead of sitting worrying – do something, and sort it out!

Worry adds no value to your life. If you must worry at all, develop processes that minimise the time spent worrying by setting a time constraint. Say, OK, I am going to spend five minutes worrying about this, and then I am going to move on. Work through your worry methodically, until you reach conclusions and find solutions or come to an acceptance. Within those five minutes!

Above all, recognise your role in being able to change things. If you can do something, that’s great. Do it.

If you can’t, just don’t waste your energy thinking about it. Think of positive things you can do. Life is too short!

Further Reading:

Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers (Amazon Link UK, US)

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle (Amazon Link UK, US)

How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie (Amazon Link UK, US)

If the above topic, or indeed any of my blogs are of interest to you, then contact me and let’s talk! Drop me an email at getintouch@marcwinn.com.

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