How to Manage Worry
So, am I a worrier? Well, to be totally honest, yes I bloody am! Certainly whilst growing up I worried all the time. I used to lie awake at night worrying my parents were going to die. As I got older, worry became about so many other things too. It was exhausting.
Let me begin by sharing this quote from Katie Piper taken from a recent interview with Psychologies Magazine. This quote really resonated with me…
“Worry is a waste of time; it steals your joy. It’s about reframing your thoughts, practising mindfulness and noticing your feelings before they spiral. If we want to reach a goal, it takes perseverance, so we all need to practise that.”
The need to control
My tendency to worry is probably one of the things that led me to become so fascinated with self-development. I hated how my thoughts had the power to dictate my feelings and how worry felt like such a monumental waste of time. I was pondering this last night and came to the conclusion that worrying is so closely tied up with the desire for control.
By spending hours stewing over something it can feel like I’m being productive. Problem solving. Planning for all eventualities. Well, that couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve noticed that when I’m getting caught up in wanting to control the outcome of something that’s when worry really does set in and that’s why it’s so important to stop it in its tracks.
Beware of rumination
It’s important to honour our thoughts and feelings and give them time to percolate, so we can understand what’s going on. However, we have to recognise when we’re slipping into rumination territory. I can tell this is happening when I find that my thoughts and worries are going over and over on a loop in my mind. That’s not helpful at all and I know from my own experience it can be so hard to stop this cycle.
What works for me in this instance is to do stuff. Anything that requires concentration. A good example for me would be to cook a meal so I have to follow a recipe. Maybe you could teach yourself a new skill or try some mindful colouring. Anything that requires you to ‘get outside your head’ in those moments where the worries are coming thick and fast.
Use your imagination
Another way to do this is to try a guided visualisation. I found one this week which gets you to imagine yourself in a room with windows open and birds flying out of the windows. The birds symbolise your thoughts and worries. It was really powerful for me so I highly recommend giving that a go – you can find it here.
It’s important not to get angry with ourselves when we notice worries coming into our mind. I sometimes give my worries an identity. I imagine that my younger self is standing in front of me feeling all worried and insecure and I gently reassure her and guide her away to go off and do something fun instead. By doing this I’m practising love and kindness towards myself and that’s far more beneficial than getting angry at myself for worrying.
I’d say that more often than not my worries are about the future. As you know if you’ve followed me for a while, I struggle with uncertainty and so I worry about what the future holds. I’ve been forced to tackle this head on in recent years through my struggles trying to conceive which I speak about in a previous blog post.
If we’re constantly worrying about the future and telling ourselves things like ‘when I get the job I’ll be happy’ or ‘when I get pregnant I’ll be happy’ we’re kidding ourselves. This kind of future tripping is pinning too much expectation on things that may or may not make us happy and that stops us living life. It’s subconsciously sending a message to our brains to say that life in this moment is pretty rubbish, when actually that may not be the case at all.
What’s good in your life right now? What fills you with joy? How can you do more of this? Practising mindfulness by really soaking up the present moment takes the focus off the past and the future which are both things we have absolutely no control over.
An affirmation I often say to myself is “I am exactly where I need to be right now.” All we really have is this very moment. As soon as we grasp this concept the quicker we can truly start living.
It’s not all about you
We’re the centre of our own universe. I will openly admit I spend too much time thinking about myself. Finding ways to get outside of yourself and help others can shift your mindset. You’re taking the focus off you and that can really take the pressure off. As I learn more about self-development and about myself I love to share it with others. There is a real comfort in it which is hard to explain. How can you serve others? What talents do you have to share with the world?
Looking outside of yourself and serving others isn’t a way to distract yourself, it’s simply a way of sharing the love and taking the spotlight off your own worries. It works for me and it’s the first step towards surrendering to something bigger than ourselves.
Handing over the reigns and trusting there is a plan is hugely comforting. I’m still getting my head around this ‘surrendering’ stuff so I’ll leave you with a quote from Gabby Bernstein who says it best..
“When you are vibrating with fear the energy of the Universe is attracting more fearful outcomes to you. When you are vibrating from a place of faith you are guided to outcomes that are in alignment with the calm state that faith provides.”