“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength”
Corrie ten Boom
Today I want to talk about a great technique I stumbled upon which will help you to cope with worry.
It’s a common problem for many anxiety sufferers, they seem to have a PhD in ‘how to worry’.
They can worry about every single thing imaginable, no matter how small and how unlikely it is to happen.
However, it’s not just what you worry about, but the amount of time you give to the worrying that’s as big a part of the problem.
Worry is a major part of anxiety’s vicious cycle.
When you are worried you often feel at your most anxious, when you are feeling anxious you often spend a lot of your time worrying.
So naturally, by being able to deal with the thoughts of worry, you will reduce your overall anxiety and in turn be less likely to worry to start with.
Worries fall into one of two categories:
- Things you have absolutely no control over
- Things you can do something about
The technique I am going to explain is for those worries you have some control over and can do something about.
However, often the biggest hurdle to you sorting it out is your worry and anxiety in the first place. The worry and anxiety which cripples your motivation, destroys your self belief and leaves you feeling lost and helpless.
If you are constantly worrying about things you cannot change, then you should read my article on learning to accept the inevitable.
For those which you can affect, the method I explain below is very simple to follow yet extremely effective.
Before we get into the technique, I will first explain how I came across it.
The worry of a failing business
A little over 5 years ago I was facing perhaps the most difficult time in my life.
I had given up on a job working in the marine industry, for which I had spent 4 years studying, to help a new online business in its relative infancy.
Things were not going well and we were desperately behind on a relaunch of the website and bleeding money each and every week.
To make matters worse we then had a web developer disappear on us, with the majority of the coding he had written, after having already paying close to £3,000 for the work. We didn’t even have the funds or time required to track him down (we all worked remotely) and take him to court.
In a last ditched attempt to try and save the business I put in £10,000 of my savings which had been left to me by my grandparents. While I was living off the little I had left in my account, having not been paid for months.
Despite this investment we were still not making the progress required and a few weeks before Christmas 2009 it looked like it had all been in vain and the company was going to fold.
I was fraught with worry. I spent every single night lying in bed thinking over what I had done, convinced I’d made the wrong choice and had completely messed up my future and wasted the money I had been left.
All the time my anxiety was getting ever worse and eventually one evening I broke down with a full on panic attack.
I was a mess.
At this time I understood very little about the power of thoughts and the human mind. Yet despite this, I decided to push the panic from my mind and instead talked through the situation logically in my head.
Rather than try to fight my constant thoughts of worry and despair, I instead decided to accept what was going to happen.
I let go of the worry by mentally accepting and even welcoming it. I told myself, ‘if this was how it was going to be, then it will be’.
I even went through the worst case scenario in my head, which went a little like this:
The company will close, I will have to leave my apartment and move back to my mum’s, I will have to look for another job and I will have lost the money I wanted to use towards a deposit for a house.
Now none of this was good stuff, but once I had accepted it would happen, it really didn’t seem so bad.
So what if the business failed, many new companies do, at least I had tried.
So what if I had to move back to my mum’s, I’d lived their happily before, and I could always move out again when ready.
So what if I had to look for another job, I knew I was capable of finding one, even if it did take time.
So what if I had lost 10 grand, I was still young and healthy enough to make it back again.
Once I began to think of it in this way, it didn’t feel so bad anymore. In fact it did the one thing I had needed all along, it freed my mind up to focus on what I could change and affect.
So for the next few weeks, with my new found energy and determination I worked harder than I ever had done before. I worked 7 day weeks and long hours, often well into the night.
Surprisingly, not only did I begin to really enjoy the work I was doing, but my anxiety was almost non existent too. Then at 4pm on Christmas Eve the new site went live.
It wasn’t perfect, we had some issues to sort out, but it was done. I had done everything I could to improve on the situation and now all I could do was live as frugally as possible to give the business a chance in the new year.
I’m very pleased to say that over 5 years later the company is still going and we now employ 5 full-time and 4 part-time staff. Not only that but 18 months later I was able to take out the £10,000 loan I invested and have used it to buy my own place as I had always intended.
Yet I came so very close to allowing my worry and anxiety to overcome me. To let it stop me doing what I was capable of and for it to have all ended in failure.
The technique for dealing with worry
It wasn’t until a year ago that I actually realised what I had done to deal with the worry and reduce my anxiety which had then enabled me to change my fortune.
One of the books I recommend in the ‘Useful Resources‘ section of this site is called ‘How to Stop Worrying and Start Living‘. In this book there is a chapter specifically about the technique I had used.
This technique can be used whenever you have a serious worry which is troubling you and is as follows:
1) Analyse the situation slowly and methodically and work out what is the worst can happen.
In most cases no one is going to die, be physically hurt or end up in prison. You may have to take a step backwards in your life, or make changes you did not want to do.
You may even lose money or the lifestyle you are accustomed to, but when it comes down to it, these are not the things which really matter.
2) Accept completely that it could happen, be ok with it and understand what you would need to do next if it did.
This is not as difficult to do as it may sound, once you accept your ‘fate’ it’s likely you will feel a huge release. Your thought patterns will start to change as there is no longer any reason to continue your negative thinking. You’ve already accepted the worst.
This then gives your positive thoughts the room they need to take root. You start to see new opportunities where before there were just barriers, you start to see the possibilities where before there seemed like none.
3) Focus your time and effort on doing what you can to either stop it happening or to improve on the current situation you face.
Once you have accepted what could happen you have now done the most important part, you have freed up your energy to use it to improve upon the worst.
Once you stop spending hour after hour worrying about the situation you can now do as much as possible to reduce the chance of it happening. Even if it still does, you’ve already accepted it and have some ideas in place for what you have to do next.
This is the technique I had unwittingly used to stop my worry and anxiety destroying all chance I had of making the best of the situation I faced.
If I hadn’t accepted the worst and freed myself from the energy drain on my mind caused by the anxiety and worry I truly believe I would never have got the work completed in time and the business wouldn’t be running today.
Why does this work?
If you are able to accept what may be, you free up an enormous amount of energy to give yourself the drive and focus to do what is required to improve on or even eliminate the problem you are facing.
Not only that, but it makes you feel better too.
Your hours of constant worry and negative thinking are gone, your anxiety reduces and you are rewarded with the feel good sensation of achievement.
This only fuels your motivation and determination further and strengthens your resolve to carry on.
Even if the problem still comes to be, you know deep down that you did everything in your power to make the best of what you had.
This, despite the outcome, will help give you peace of mind, because there is no worse feeling than looking back and knowing you could have done something about it.
You have calmed your mind and used your new found energy to have the courage to do what you didn’t think was possible before.
Worrying about something never solves the problem, it only furthers your procrastination to do something about it.
Only by taking action can you improve on the situation and this can only be done by removing the worry because you have already accepted the worst if it does happen.
This method is often used unknowingly by those facing death. By accepting their time is up, they move their thoughts from worry and fear to that of getting the most out of the time they have left.
For those who are not terminal, it can often be the most important influence in their rehabilitation and becoming well again.
When you realise the power of acceptance and the new found energy it gives you, you can see why it can even help people overcome serious health issues.
Therefore, your acceptance of a situation can be so crucial in reducing your worries and giving you the strength to act rather than succumb to your fears.
It’s also one of the main techniques to use in overcoming worry and anxiety about your health, but I will be going into that in more detail in a later article.
If you practice this method whenever you have something which is troubling you deeply, it soon starts to become second nature through the power of habit.
You will stop wasting so much of your energy spent introspectively inside your mind and instead use it to make the positive changes in your life and the world around you.
It enables you to take control of your future, and to not spend the present lost inside your thoughts of worry and fear.
You must not allow your worry and anxiety to limit what you can achieve, and for this, acceptance is key.
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