Worries are the punishment delivered before a sentence.
Growing up, I always worried about things, big and small. By the time I had my son, I’d found myself neck-deep in worries, juggling a job, school, and the baby. My health suffered, and my productivity went down. One day, I did these three things to stop worrying. I still follow these rules now. Even though my life has become much busier since then, I have fewer worries and more confidence than before.
The thing is, when you imagine the worst-case scenarios in your head long enough, they take root in your brain. Then every little random thing becomes the sign of something much more serious and disastrous, which almost never happens.
So, what to do when you can’t stop worrying?
One, set a time to worry.
Say, every day between 6:30—6:45 p.m., focus your full attention on worries. Anything about yourself, your family, job, car, house, you name it. Write down your worries. Make a list.
When 6:30 p.m. comes around the next day, open your worry log and see if any of the worries have already magically evaporated. Cross those out and record your new worries.
If you do this regularly, you’ll find a pattern of unnecessary worries you carry around.
Two, do something about it.
Do you know it takes more energy to worry than actually to do the things you worry about?
If you worry outside the designated time, remind yourself you’re putting in overtime for the worries. If you really, really can’t stop worrying about something, try to focus your energy on identifying one thing you can do to lessen that worry.
For example, if you worry about being laid off, ask your boss for additional duty, and gauge his response. If you worry about your car breaking down, schedule a checkup, and see if it needs maintenance. If you worry about the upcoming presentation, run it by someone you trust, and make it better.
Three, have a Plan B.
When things are truly out of your control, worrying about it won’t change the outcome. However, having a Plan B can help prepare you for the unforeseeable future. When you weigh your situation and come up with a Plan B, you not only avoid making hasty mistakes, but also set up a safety net for yourself.
Last, remember, you always find what you’re looking for. Focus on the thing you can do, rather than the thing you can’t, makes a big difference in the long run.
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