How can I stop myself from worrying so much?
On a recent training course, I was asked by one of the delegates, a man called Reese, a question that I hear many people asking; "How can I stop myself from worrying so much?"
Reese continued, "In one way I NEED to worry. I need to think about my work problems in order to solve them.
But in another way, I must NOT think about my problems because the stress it causes me is so much that I cannot rest; I have trouble sleeping; I become irritable and argumentative with my colleagues and my family.
I need to worry to some degree, but I must not worry too much. So how do I do that?"
I answered as follows:
"Reese, pick up your pen and draw a big square on your pad..
In the lower left corner, write the word "thoughts" On the upper left corner write the word ""feelings"", in the upper right corner write the word, ""actions"", and in the lower right corner write the words, "external results".
Think about your "External results".
Everyone wants better results, if you are doing well; you still would like to be doing better.
If you are not doing well, then you would like to be doing better.
Everyone wants to create better results. More progress, more profit, a nicer physical environment. Better external results.
In order to do better, you must improve your actions, (look at upper right corner). If you take better actions, then over time, you will get better results.
If you don't take better actions, then you won't get better results.
But you will agree that your actions are governed, partly, by how you feel, on any given moment. (look at the top left corner)
If you feel bad, you act badly.
If you feel strong, then you act strong.
If you feel weak then you act weak.
If you feel angry; you act angry.
If you feel fearful and scared, then you act accordingly.
Your actions are governed (strongly influenced) by how you feel.
Look at your diagram and you will see:
Your results depend on your actions.
Your actions depend on your feelings.
QUESTION: What do your feelings depend on?
Don't say that your feelings depend on your external results.
If you make that mistake, then you are doomed to emotional turmoil.
If you make a direct connection (diagonally across your square, to connect your feelings with your external results), then you will lose control of your emotional life.
If you tie your emotional life directly to your external results: you will lose control of yourself.
And most people (90%) make this error.
They make their emotional life, their feelings, contingent on their external results.
They draw in the diagonal line.
Don't do it.
And if you already have done it, undo it
You must instead recognise that the source of your feelings is, in fact, your thoughts.
Remember this phrase:
You feel whatever you think about.
Whatever you think about, is dictating how you feel.
You feel whatever you think about.
If you think you will win; then you feel confident.
If you think you will lose, then you don't feel confident.
If you think about food, you will start to feel hunger.
If you think about your goals, then you start to feel motivated.
If you think she is lying, then you will feel angry.
If you think you are in trouble, then you will feel anxious.
You DON'T feel emotions consistent with objective external results.
You DO feel whatever you think about.
And here is the key point: you can control what you think about.
And: You cannot control the external results;
You cannot control the external results, the external world. But you can, with practice, control the internal world.
You can control what you think about; and therefore you can control how you feel.
If you are feeling worried. It is not because you have many problems.
Just because you have many problems does not mean that you must burn yourself up worrying.
If you have problems you must spend your time solving them, not worrying about them.
And when you have done all the problem solving that you can do, then you must learn to put it out of your mind, and switch your mind to thinking of other things.
Don't burn out your motors with endlessly turning over problems in your mind, thinking:
What if it all goes wrong?
What if it does not work?
What if I get into trouble?
What if they say no?
What if? What if? What if?
Here is my advice
1. Break the link you have in your mind between your feelings and your outside world, external results.
Why? Because you cannot control the world.
If your mental emotional stability is linked directly to the outside world results, and if the outside world results are always in a state of upset, confusion and in a certain amount of crises, then that condition will be reflected in how you will feel, you will feel constantly upset, confused, and in a certain amount of emotional crisis.
Break the link you have in your mind that links directly, the outside world and your feelings.
2. Establish the link between your thoughts and your feelings.
If you control your thoughts then you control your feelings.
If you don't control your thoughts then you won't be able to control your feelings.
When you have problems then spend time thinking about them in the following way:
- Identify the problem, name it.
- Identify the causes of the problem. Name them; name four causes.
- Identify, for each cause, what you think you can do to interrupt the causes. Write down the steps.
- Identify the possible knock on consequences of having the initial problem. Name four possible consequences that may follow on from the existence of the initial problem.
- Then for each consequence, write down counter measures. Write down what you can do to negate or minimise the negative effects of the first problem.
Once you have done all of that, stop thinking about it!
Move on to think about something else!
Play with the kids.
Go for a meal.
Do anything! Other than worrying any more, on that day.
Next day, you put your plan into action and repeat the process, asking and answering the same five questions every day.
3. Do your legitimate thinking and then distract yourself and think about something else more pleasant
You must develop the ability to:
Think about your problems: what they are, their causes, their solutions, their implications and the corresponding countermeasures.
But in addition you must learn how and when to stop.
Stop your brain from going over the same old ground.
You must learn to control your own mind.
If you do, emotional peace of mind will be yours for the taking.
Thank you for reading this.
For more information about personal development training please visit the Corporate Coach Training website