Worrying Too Much?
With so many terrible things going on in the world, how could you not worry? Yes, it makes sense to worry about some things, but if worrying is taking a heavy toll on your confidence or decision-making skills, read on!
Excessive worrying chains you to your comfort zone, saying “no” when new ventures trigger discomfort. It also makes it difficult for you to make decisions, as you vacillate about what to do. To top it off, even after you’ve made a decision, you second guess yourself about whether it was the right one.
Rather than taking challenges in stride, you view them as potential catastrophes. Rather than honing in on what might go right, you obsess over what might go wrong. Such angst is emotionally and physically draining. And ironically, despite all your worrying, nothing productive is achieved. This is no way for you to deal with challenges. You deserve better. It’s time for you to create a future that’s less anxious, more fun! Anyone against that?
Here are a few ideas to put you on the road to a less fearful future:
- Break down large, intimidating projects into smaller, less threatening ones.
You may be easily intimidated by looking at the whole panorama of responsibilities you face, thinking it’s all too much for you. Scratch that habit; it’s debilitating! Instead, divide the big panorama of responsibilities into smaller ones. When you do, you’ll find them less intimidating, easier to do.
- Answer "what if?" questions.
You may ask an abundance of "What if?" questions, leaving them all unanswered. This only reinforces your worries. So, answer the questions you pose. Your immediate response might be “I don’t know the answer.” But don’t leave it there! Inspiration is often born from frustration, so get inspired! Figure out what you’ll do if the unexpected, undesired, unlikely happens.
- Reward yourself for taking a risk.
Having second thoughts about taking a risk? Rather than berating yourself, (i.e. I never should have joined the drama club), reward yourself. One way to get on ‘this is a good idea’ track is to remind yourself why you did this (i.e. perhaps there’s a budding actor inside of you yearning to be free). Even accomplished actresses like Katherine Hepburn admitted to being fearful and doing it anyway: “Everyone thought I was bold and fearless, even arrogant, but inside I was always quaking.”
- Reflect on what’s exciting about a challenge.
There's a fine line between feeling excited and feeling nervous. Worriers lean toward the nervous side. Counteract this tendency; deliberately lean the other way. Focus on what's exciting, stimulating, or inspiring about a challenge. As you make this shift, you’ll discover that worrying and excitement have much in common. The difference is how you interpret your bodily experience. So, next time you have “butterflies in your stomach,” interpret it as a sign of excitement, not fear.
- Be a support system to yourself.
Your first impulse may be to turn to others for encouragement and support. That’s terrific. I’m glad you have supportive people in your life. But don’t let that stop you from building up your self-reliance. Rather than staying stuck, ask yourself questions such as: What are my options? - What would I like to do? - What resources might I explore? – What’s my next step? Answering such questions will clarify your own thinking. Then, when you do seek input from others, you won’t come across as weak (i.e. I can’t do this) but as strong (i.e. I’d appreciate your input about my ideas).
Don’t let your worries scare you into inaction. Implementing these skills will improve your life in a myriad of ways!
Linda Sapadin is a psychologist and personal coach in private practice who specializes in helping people enrich their lives, enhance their relationships and overcome self-defeating patterns of behavior. For more information about her work, contact her by email or visit her website at PsychWisdom.