Managing Excessive Worry
Montaigne: “My life has been full of terrible misfortunes, most of which never happened.”
The above statement by Montaigne (a French philosopher) illustrates the power of the mind on our life, or more specifically, the negative power of our worried mind that has nothing to do with reality. Excessive worry is exhausting, tiring and have negative consequences on your emotional and physical well-being. The imagination of the worrier is full of thoughts about things that will never happen, or that turn out to be not as bad as imagined. The negative, protective mind cannot let go of troubling, pessimistic thoughts and cannot see beyond a negative outcome.
There is something about worrying that makes it hard to give up. In fact, worrying can be beneficial. Worrying is a defense mechanism and alerts you from danger or negative consequences. Ignoring a back pain or not preparing your car for the winter might cause you some serious troubles. Worry direct your attention to a possible problem or unstable situation and push you to take a constructive action toward resolving it. For example, worrying about downsizing could motivate you to prepare a resume and upgrade your skills or looking for another job in another company.
Many of us worry needlessly and excessively and live our lives in fear, plagued with anxiety and a general overall feeling of uneasiness. Here are some tips that will help you stop excessive worry and have inner peace:
- Write down the three things (concerns) that you worry excessively about. Only focus on these three major worries that seem to be on your mind on a daily basis. Order these concerns from more serious as the highest to least serious as the lowest.
- For each worry, ask yourself if you can or cannot control it. For example, if you are worried about deterioration of your health, determine if this is something you can or cannot control. In other words, determine what is within your control and what is beyond your control. In this case, you can control how you take care of yourself by eating healthy food, exercising, sleeping well and reducing stress. You can control parts of this worry, but of course not the entire worry itself.
- If you find yourself worrying excessively over things you cannot control, try to shift your narrow perspective on the negative consequences, and look at the bigger picture of life. Say to yourself “STOP, I am wasting my energy on things I cannot control.” “I better be constructive with my energy.”
- Allow yourself to be worry of 10 minutes per day. Set aside this time daily and use this time only for your worry. You may eventually stop doing this by realizing that it is a waste of time. Until this realization settled, you need some time just to feel your fears, and eventually move on to more productive activities.
The above ideas are not easy to implement as it requires a continual resistance to the worry mind. Remember, do not allow yourself to have excessive worry over the things you cannot control. You will waste valuable time and energy in your life worrying about these things.
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