Monday, December 5, 2011

Don't Worry... Be Happy!

I have clients that are worriers.  I have family that are worriers.  I have friends that are worriers.  I worry about them!

In all seriousness though, worrying is seemingly becoming a very pervasive emotion.  Now, perhaps it is more simply a reflection of my coaching profession, but there seems to be an upsurge in the number of worriers that I am encountering.  An impact of our economic times?  Perhaps.  But it does seem that more people are worried about their futures than ever before, in recent times.  However, the act of worrying itself does nothing to improve their state but, it can very well have a significant impact on making things worse.

Worrying is like sitting on a rocking horse, it gives you something to do but you don't get anywhere doing it.                   Tony Robbins

 Worrying itself is neither a proactive or effective emotion.  Certainly worrying about a problem or situation in no way improves or changes it.  However, the effects of worry are much more negatively insidious than may be immediately apparent.
  1. A key implication of worry is that things will not turn out well. Let's face it, we don't worry about things turning out well, just that they might turn out poorly for us.  The focus of worrying is all negative.  I won't get that promotion... I might lose my job... What if I fail at my task?... I might get hurt...  These are all what-if scenarios that lead us to inaction, rather than risking the possibility that they may occur.
  2. The energy of worry is a heavy burden for us to carry.  It has a physical impact on us and can prove very debilitating for us over the long term.  Just as we know that carrying an extra 100 pounds of excess weight will have a physical impact on our body, causing early wear and tear and strain on our muscles, organs and heart... so too with worry.
  3. Worry is not just physically debilitating but mentally debilitating as well.  We create worry loops in our mind that play endlessly, preventing us from engaging in the very thoughts that would lead us to the solution we desire or the action we need to take.
  4. Worry expands.  It ripples out beyond us.  Even as we worry about ourselves, we also worry about others in our lives that we care for.  Although this is done out of love and concern for them, we slowly begin to push that negative energy onto them, forcing them to also begin to carry the worry load.  The more they begin to assume and duplicate our burden, the more self-doubt begins to creep into their perspective, thus limiting their growth and potential. Not our intention, surely!
Worrying can be a healthy response to life when it is realistic in its frequency, strength and duration.  When it becomes extreme though, it becomes almost addictive.  We have all heard of adrenalin junkies, those extreme athletes perhaps that pursue the next big adventure that provides them with that adrenalin high.  The truth about worrying though is that it also causes a release of adrenalin into the body, which can prove just as addictive.  We now become worry-junkies, constantly finding something new, something more, to worry about, thus getting our adrenalin fix.  We might get the immediate reinforcement of that adrenalin, but our worry and fears will keep us from going after what it is we want from our life and leave us with nothing but our worries to show for it.

Instead, we need to take control of our thoughts and redirect them in more positive ways.  When we are worrying, we are thinking about the possibility of negative outcomes.  We fear the 'what ifs'.  This is all thinking about the future though.  We are projecting outward the possible negative outcomes of a particular action.  Instead, we need to become more fully present in and focused on the present.  The more we maintain our focus on today, the less we have to worry about.  Every time you find yourself thinking the 'what ifs' or 'yes buts', redirect your thoughts back to the problem at hand and the actions you can take now.

Worry, like fear, is all in the mind.  We are afraid of the possibilities that may potentially exist for us and it paralyzes our actions.  Instead, consider all possibilities.  Nature likes balance... why not you?  Every time you find yourself thinking of  a negative possibility, balance it with its positive counterpart.  Break the negative worry-loop by disrupting the pattern and inserting a potentially positive outcome.  Just beginning to recognise that there are outcomes that may prove helpful and beneficial can go a long way to reducing your anxiety.

Show yourself, and others, your support.  Say... 'I know I (you) will get through this - what can I do now to support it?'  This will prove more helpful to everyone than pointing out every potential pitfall.  And... in the end, adopting the attitude of Bobby McFarren (the title of this blog post) or a mantra from Disney's Lion King... Hakuna Matata...  couldn't hurt either!


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