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The Better Way
Wondering how to fill the mental space formerly occupied by worry? Compare the effects of worrying with equivalent emotions in centered individuals. Which would you rather experience?
Replace frenzy with equanimity.
Replace discontent with fulfillment.
Replace living in the past or future with living in the present moment.
Replace feeling drained with feeling energized.
Replace fear with trust.
From In Her Power, by Helene Lerner.
Worrying is a dreadful cycle — it keeps us from moving forward, which leads us to worry about the fact that we’re falling behind. We can easily spend more time going over the “what-ifs” of a situation than we’d spend actually doing the darn thing in the first place! Worrying eats up our focus, leaving us with nothing to show for our stress…but how can we recover our wasted time and energy? Don’t get sucked into the worry trap. Get over it!
Watch your step. Before you get wrapped up in your worry cycle, ask yourself whether worrying about your situation will improve it in any way. You can likely find a more productive use of your time and energy, and you may even realize that there’s little cause for concern in the first place! Consider the odds — how often do your worries actually come true? Probably rarely (if ever!). So why even bother going down that road?
Take the jump. Distract yourself. You can’t worry about work if you’re already working. Push past your feelings and take an action. When you focus on the task at hand, you’ll likely forget whatever future concern was making you feel stressed. Worry can also stem from a lack of confidence, so if you feel yourself spiraling, think of a recent accomplishment or project that makes you feel proud. Concentrate on the positive, and take concrete steps to improve your weaker areas.
Share the burden. If nagging feelings won’t go away, talking to someone can help. Confide in a close colleague or mentor about a problem that’s bothering you. Hearing someone else’s input and perspective will likely ease your concerns. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing your situation with another person, try putting your thoughts on paper. Venting in a journal (or even just a Word document) will keep negative thoughts from swirling fruitlessly around in your head.
Contain the threat. Can’t quit worrying cold turkey? Set aside a specific time of day to get anxious feelings out of your system. Try to schedule this period several hours before bed to ensure that your concerns don’t keep you up at night. If you feel yourself becoming worked up, shelve your concern until "the worrying hour.” You may even find that it feels silly to carve out a specific time to feel agitated, providing an automatic solution to your worrying problem.
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