I know very few people who wished they worried more. Most of us would give almost anything to have a successful strategy for reducing worry. When we worry it’s almost as if there is a hypnotic spell cast upon us. It’s all consuming and limits our ability to see the opportunities and possibilities that currently exist. It’s as if a huge cloud gets in the way of our seeing the sun and the light that it can give us.
Most likely this limited way of thinking has been a habit for quite some time. Our imagination runs wild and our mind conjures up various scenarios none of which have a happy ending. We can’t imagine any other possibilities. I know because I was like that and I didn’t like the way this mindset made me feel. Fortunately that has changed over the years.
Many years ago I had a big discovery. When I focused on what I was grateful for after meditation, I noticed that over time I became more optimistic. Even when I thought about some of my concerns I didn’t get plugged in as much. Rather than focusing on what could go wrong and what I didn’t like about my life, I focused on what could go right and what I like about my life. I focused on the good stuff. As my gratitude practice evolved, I noticed that I worried less.
This was just the first step in helping me overcome some of my limiting beliefs and disempowering ways of thinking. Focusing on what I was grateful for, helped shift my attitude. This change in attitude was just one aspect of my overall strategy to reduce worry. Over the years, I noticed my own tendencies and those of many of the people with whom I worked as an attorney and as a life coach. I discovered three important questions to ask yourself when you feel yourself excessively worrying. I have found that these questions have the potential to shift your focus from one of worry to one of possibility.
The first is, what is the worst that can happen? Remember worry is an irrational emotion. Quite often when we excessively worry, we feel as if we are forever stuck in a long and dark tunnel with no end to it. There is an acronym that reminds me of this truth: F.E.A.R.: False Evidence Appearing Real. When you worry, you can’t see clearly and you distort reality. You only see one possibility and not only does th tunnel seem darker, there doesn’t seem a way out.
I then ask myself, “How likely is it that what I’m worrying about will actually occur?” This inquiry gets me out of the irrational mode. When you are in the irrational mode you usually imagine the worst-case scenario. This inquiry forces me to detach from what I’m feeling, even if just for a few seconds. Once I’m feeling calmer, I’m ready to explore the likelihood of the particular thing I’m worrying about actually occurring. Usually I come to the conclusion that there is little likelihood of it happening.
The next inquiry I have found quite powerful. Ask yourself what the result would be if everything went your way. Very few of us consider this possibility. Even imagine things working out better than you expected. When you allow yourself to fully explore and imagine the possibilities of everything working out in your favor, with the same intensity of emotion that you have when you worry, before you know it, you’re out of your funk and excited again.
More often than not I am pleasantly surprised. We have no
way of knowing what is going to happen in the future, yet for
some reason when we worry we think we do. In the process
of training our minds to think more positively about the possibilities
in our life, life becomes less of a struggle and more of
an exciting journey of discovery. Since we know what it’s like
to dance on the river, we welcome what’s next.
ENJOY THE JOURNEY
Mark Susnow, is an executive & life coach and thought leader who inspires others to believe in themselves. He is passionate about life being an exciting journey of discovery. His enthusiastic and inspiring keynotes on change, leadership and connection thoroughly convey this message to his audiences. A former trial attorney for 30 years, he integrates what it takes to be successful in the world with the inner wisdom unfolded to him through years of yoga and meditation. He is the author of Dancing on the River…Navigating Life’s Changes and Discover the Leader Within.