When you are making a shift in your life like starting your own business it’s natural to worry about where the next paycheck is coming from. After all, you probably have a family to support and bills that need paying at the end of each month.
Worry is an inevitable part of life. Bad things happen, things don’t always work out as we plan and none of us knows what’s around the corner.
But if you’re constantly thinking about what could go wrong and replaying worst case scenarios in your head, the chances are that your occasional worrying is becoming a destructive worry habit.
Worse still, if the people around you are also chronic worriers, you may get so overwhelmed with fear and self-doubt that you never get started on the business you’ve always dreamed of.
This nearly happened to me.
I grew up in a family that constantly worried so it’s not hard to see why I picked up the worry bug.
Why Do YOU Worry?
My dad died suddenly when we were young, leaving behind my mother to raise 9 young children on her own and sort out his entangled business affairs. From one day to the next, it was as if someone had flipped a switch on our lives.
Whereas once we’d known comfort and plenty, life became a constant struggle.
As a result my teenage years were plagued with worry and uncertainty about the future. Without realizing it, I took this habit into adulthood.
Although I enjoyed considerable success in my career and business, I found it hard to snuff out these worrisome thoughts.
In my job, I worried that I wouldn’t be able to meet my monthly sales and performance targets. I always did but I worried nonetheless!
In business, whenever challenges arose, as they always do, I was wracked with worry. I’d lay awake at night playing out various scenarios and imagining “what ifs” into the wee hours.
Even if my business was doing well, I couldn’t stop worrying and hardly ever relaxed. I told myself I was being a responsible business owner by trying to figure out a solution or pre-empting any nasty surprises.
But in truth, my anxious thoughts were starting to affect my productivity, my mindset and my health.
How To Stop Worrying – 6 Steps
The turning point for me was the day I realized that my chronic worrying was a habit and like any habit it could be broken. I decided to change the program I’d learned as a teenager by training myself to act and think differently.
I started to notice that the people I admired never seemed to worry.
They were happy and positive all the time and super-productive to boot. Even in situations where panic would have been the way to go, they were in control and so relaxed.
I wanted to be like them – cool, calm and in control.
This realization was the starting point in a conscious 6-step process that has helped me release my chronic worrying. It can also help you ditch the worry and retrain your brain to stay calm, positive and more relaxed.
Let’s dive right in!
#1. Change Your Vocabulary
When presented with a difficulty people who tend to worry label it as a “problem” and often feel stuck or powerless to do anything about it.
Non-worriers on the other hand reframe the “problem” as a challenge or an opportunity.
The language you use is much more than plain semantics because words matter. Every word you think or speak carries its own energy.
Consider for a moment how words like LOVE, JOY and BLISS make you feel and contrast them with HATE, ENVY and ANGER.
Most of us subconsciously associate “problem” with negativity, that something is wrong and needs fixing, whereas challenge or opportunity are both more empowering terms.
Although it doesn’t change what you’re facing using empowering language puts you in a stronger mental state to handle any challenges, overcome worry and use your creative powers to find a solution.
This is the first step in making the shift from worrier to warrior.
#2. Be Solution-Oriented
Besides changing your language, you also need to train your mind to become more solution-oriented.
It’s astounding how much time chronic worriers spend thinking about the problem, why it’s impossible and what’s wrong with the situation rather than looking for a solution.
They focus on the negative consequences they might face, the mistakes they might make and talk repeatedly about their situation to friends, colleagues, family members…pretty much anyone who’ll listen. Why me, they lament over and over.
Don’t let this be you.
If you are stuck or faced with a challenge instead of asking “Why me?” ask yourself a whole different set of questions, like:
- How can I resolve this situation?
- Who can help me with this challenge?
- What one step will help me move forward?
Getting into the habit of asking yourself questions that begin with Who, What and How can really open your mind to possibilities and train your brain to be solution-focused rather than problem-oriented. It can also stop worry in its tracks.
#3. Manage How & When You Worry
Worrying is a normal part of life and when a situation pops up that is unsettling, worrying is a natural reaction.
The difference is that some of us are able to better control how and when we worry.
For many people, when they get bad news or an unexpected issue crops up, there is an instant knee-jerk reaction.
Everything stops as they panic, flap and stress about the situation. They think that they have to deal with the situation immediately, not realizing that in most cases it can wait.
One of the best strategies I learned to stop worrying was to give myself permission to worry about a problem at a time that suited me and then only for a few minutes.
This means that unless it truly is an emergency, when an issue comes up, I try not to respond immediately. I tell myself that I will deal with it later on and switch my attention to something else.
By the time I do get round to focusing on the problem, much of the emotion has gone and I can deal with it calmly and objectively.
When you box off “worry time” like this you’ll be able to contain worrying to a few minutes instead of letting it drag on for days and weeks. By allowing your body and mind’s natural reaction to take over for a short time, you’ll gradually get better at handling unexpected events and move on much faster.
#4. Stay In The Present
What if they don’t say yes? What if I fail? What if this doesn’t turn out well?
A worrier will spend countless hours going over scenario after scenario of their situation and playing it out in the worst possible ways.
Instead of asking themselves what they can do right at that moment to get the most positive outcome, they will sit and do nothing while their mind wanders into the future.
Imagine if this was you with your new business. If you are forever thinking about “what ifs” without ever dealing with the here and now, nothing will take off, nothing will get done.
Stay in the present.
Life is a series of moments that are happening right in front of you.
This is the best way to stop worrying. It’s how successful people remain positive, productive and focused in the face of challenges. They don’t worry about what might happen until it does. Then they deal with the situation as best they can with the resources they have available.
#5. Challenge The Worst Case Scenario
Sometimes playing out the worst case scenario can actually help you kick the worry habit.
Asking yourself what’s the worst thing that can happen prepares you mentally for a tough situation and increases confidence in your ability to handle it if it did happen.
This is a strategy that has helped me many times and it can be a really empowering exercise that shifts your thinking. It’s almost like your inner confidence is looking right at the worst case scenario and shouting “challenge accepted”.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Take a piece of paper and draw a line vertically down the middle. On the left, put down the worst possible thing that could happen and all the potentially negative things resulting from it. Keep going until you’ve listed at least a dozen items.
- As you write notice how you’re feeling. I have found that getting fears and worries out of my head and onto paper where I can see them in black and white helps dissolves them.
- Then on the right, list the most positive, wonderful outcomes possible from that same situation. Suspend your doubts and let your imagination run free.
- Again keep going until you have at least a dozen items. Read through the list of positive outcomes and notice how you feel.
- Next tear the paper down the middle, throw away the list of negative outcomes but keep the positive list nearby. You will be looking at it daily to remind yourself about what could happen.
Non-worriers understand that there is a chance that things may not work out but they have a focused and unbending determination to not let their attention dwell on that possibility.
Train yourself to always look for the good, the positive and the best outcome no matter how impossible or unlikely. Having faith that everything is working out is a powerful force that can bend the Universe to do your bidding in the most extraordinary ways.
#6. Learn To Meditate
The main difference between worriers and non-worriers when it comes to challenges is that worriers tend to imagine the worst while those who are calmer focus on more positive outcomes.
In the short term learning to meditate can reduce stress, anxiety and worry because it helps you relax, regulates your breathing and slows down your nervous mind chatter.
But a remarkable thing happens when you keep meditating for a few short weeks.
You develop a more positive outlook on life, become more confident in yourself and your decision-making powers and gain clarity about your life.
The benefits of meditation are too numerous to cover here but there is a good reason why celebrities like Oprah, Russell Simmonds and Richard Gere as well as thousands of successful entrepreneurs meditate daily.
Meditation has made the single biggest difference in my life and my business. That’s why I strongly recommend you try it out for yourself. The easiest way to get started is with these guided meditations.
If you are worrying about a situation in your life, choose a time to look at it head on and ask yourself what’s the worst thing that can happen. Do the exercise I suggest and once you’ve gone through the worst case scenario, let it go and shift your focus to the most positive outcome that could happen.
Things rarely turn out as badly as we imagine. Quite often, it’s the anticipation of what could go wrong that makes us sick with worry rather than the actual outcome.
If a situation does arise though, don’t ignore it. Find a solution to it and be confident that you can resolve whatever challenges you are facing.
Remember, we are never given a problem we can’t handle. Worrying is natural but you don’t have to let it take over your life.
Are you a chronic worrier? What strategies have you learned to help you worry less and live more? Please share below.