I just finished talking to a young lady who spends too much time worrying. She’s worried about getting off to a great start this semester. She’s worried about getting into graduate school. She’s worried about how she is going to do on her finals.
She hasn’t even been to a class yet!
She and I sat down for about 20 minutes and worked on getting the “worry weeds” out of her head. Here’s a snapshot of what we talked about.
GOOD AND BAD WORRY
Being concerned about things or wanting them to go right is called adaptive worry. That’s the good kind of worry and it’s necessary because it helps you to avoid dangers and solve problems.
You have to be careful, however, with the other kind of worry—toxic worry. It’s a form of fear that comes from having to deal with the unknown, the possibility of repeating previous mistakes, or re-living painful experiences from the past.
These fears make it extremely difficult for you to perform at an exceptional level. They can be like weeds. They grow and spread fast. Before you even realize what has happened, worry weeds can takeover you entire mental garden and choke the life out of it. Not cool.
Dr. Charles Mayo, one of the founders of the Mayo Clinic said, “Worry affects circulation, the glands, the whole nervous system and profoundly affects the heart.”
All of this sad is because, as Earl Nightingale wrote, for most people, only 8% of your worries are about real and legitimate concerns. That means that 92% of your worrying is a complete waste of time. Think about that while you check out the following steps.
5 STEPS FOR DEALING WITH WORRY
1. There’s nothing wrong with you because you get worried. It’s a mental process that’s meant to protect you and help you to survive. Your body is working to prepare you for the possibility of danger, pain, disappointment or all three. So, there is nothing wrong with you if you start to worry. Especially if something is important. It’s natural. There’s no need to beat yourself up. If toxic worry is causing you problems, just use the things you are about to learn to get it out of your head.
2. Make a plan for dealing with problems, then focus on the solutions. Write down the things that could go wrong. Then right down how you will deal with them. If you’re not sure how to deal with them, then do some research or ask someone who knows what s/he is talking about.
If things don’t go according to plan,
what can you do to get back on track?
Once you have an answer to that question (and you truly believe in the answer), it will be easier for you to concentrate on doing what you need to do.
3. Visualize future success, not past failures. Learning from your past mistakes and using them as motivation is awesome. Agonizing over past mistakes and allowing them to become excuses, is lame. If you find yourself worried about past pain repeating itself, get that stuff out of your head by relaxing and visualizing success over and over again. (In addition to visualization, some people find it helpful to write all of this down.)
4. Accept total responsibility for things that are under your control. There are few things that will get rid of worry weeds faster than figuring out what’s under your control and focusing on it. After all, if it’s under your control, you can do something about it. Bye-bye worry weeds.
5. Getting rid of worry weeds is an ongoing process. Just like weeds in a garden return if you stop tending to the garden, worry weeds will return to your mind. When they do, there’s no need to get mad, frustrated, or down on yourself. Just go back and use the steps you were given today.
1. How many types of worry are there? Describe them.
2. What are 3-5 things you worry about? Would you say these are good (adaptive) worries or bad (toxic) worries? If they are adaptive worries what are they helping you to accomplish? If they are toxic worries, what problems are they causing and what will you do about them?
3. Just like attitudes or other fears, worrying can be contagious. When has someone else’s worries caused you to worry about something you weren’t even initially thinking about? What did you do about it? Now that you’ve read this article, what will you do if this ever happens again?
4. When people are battling toxic worry they show certain traits and behaviors. What are 5 behaviors you have seen people exhibit when they are worried? If someone were exhibiting any of these behaviors during an interview, how would they affect the interview? Why?
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