Face it: there’s plenty to worry about. If global warming and terrorism and drug-resistant bacteria don’t keep you up at night, there are probably things much closer to home.
Everyone worries – even the people who seem blissfully calm. We’re hard-wired for a particular kind of worry: fight or flight. It’s a physiological response that served us well in the time of saber-tooth cats and mastodons. But what’s it doing for us today, when our daily adversaries are more likely to be financial pressures, changing market conditions and too many e-mail messages?
Worry just brings us to a future we don’t want.
If you can accept for the moment that to think is to create – that you can change your life if you change your thinking – then worrying yourself into a new life is just the flip side of that process.
Instead of thinking your way to positive change, you worry your way to negative change.
So what can you do about it?
First, don’t punish yourself for worrying. It’s part of the human condition. You’re not crazy.
Next, introduce yourself to the worry gremlin. The worry gremlin’s enemy is change. It has one job: to keep you exactly where you are, in the comfort zone. When you start setting goals that might stretch beyond the status quo, this little gremlin wakes up and starts throwing (imaginary) obstacles in your way: oh you can’t do that …i f you take a risk, you could lose everything … it will be way too expensive ... Sound familiar?
Worrying is giving in to the gremlin. Time for a divorce.
Turn down the volume on the gremlin’s annoying voice and create in your mind a vision of what you want. Focus on the image until it’s very clear. Use your senses: touch it, taste it, smell it, feel it, hear it, see it.
Now, make a very subtle shift in your thinking, so instead of saying “I want” this vision you’ve created, say “I have” or “I am” whatever it is. Keep refining your vision and keep it in the present tense, as if you already have your dream. This is called affirmation. Keep visualizing, bringing your vision into better and better focus, and keep repeating your affirmation.
If you hear your soon-to-be-ex worry gremlin laughing at you or nattering in the background, that means you just need to focus more intensely on your vision and bring it into the present. Really feel the excitement, the thrill, the wonder and the appreciation for having this thing you want so much. The more you feel it, the less you’ll hear the nagging voice of the gremlin.
The next step may seem like it’s not very important, or like you’re not really doing anything, but it’s one of the most important parts of this process: take time to have gratitude for what you already have. Acknowledge the littlest things along with the big things. It’s easy to forget how much we have to be grateful for, especially when we’re worrying, but if your toothbrush was in the right place, or your coffee tasted good, or a tiny bird stopped at the birdfeeder, or your car started, or somebody said Thank You, you’ve already started an impressive list. Take some time to do this every single day.
Of course the extension of this step is to pass it along: express appreciation out loud, or in writing, to someone else. Say Thank You. If it feels awkward, keep practicing.
Finally, do something every day that’s going to make you feel good, whether or not you can afford it. When we worry, we start cutting out the things that make us feel good. We tell ourselves we don’t deserve it, or we can’t afford it, or it wouldn’t be right. But guess what? When you do something that makes you feel good, whether it’s getting a facial or going to a movie in the middle of the day or visiting an elderly relative or serving up food at the local mission, that “feel good” shows in your face and in your spirit. It makes you attractive. And attractiveness has two benefits: it gets you more of what you want and it makes the worry gremlin slink off into the shadows.
These are the basic, simple steps in the prescription against worry, but let’s look at one more thing you can do. The worry gremlin is sort of a pack animal. It’s most comfortable when there are plenty of other worries around. So instead of worrying about one thing (for example, “I have a toothache”), we daisy-chain a whole bunch of worries together: I have a toothache, but if I go to the dentist, I’ll probably need a root canal, but I can’t afford that because of my car payment, and I could lose my car, and then how will I be able to show property, or the root canal will have to be done during the week I promised to visit my mother, or maybe the dentist will find … well, you get the idea. This kind of thinking has one result: paralysis. It saps our energy, focuses all our thinking on the negative, and grinds us to a screeching halt. And it has one very easy cure: Do One Thing. Call the dentist. Think of it as the thing you’re doing today to make yourself feel good. Do One Thing. Everything else will follow.
Congratulations! Your divorce from the worry gremlin is final. Be forewarned: this is an “ex” who likes to make unannounced, annoying visits. But once you’ve practiced these simple steps, you can always take control and send it packing again. It gets easier every time.
(Patti Kouri, GRI, Accelerated Performance Coaching, is a Master Coach who works closely with executives, managers, and real estate sales professionals. She offers dynamic and innovative techniques to help people achieve their goals and specializes in breaking through limits. “I work with people with big visions for themselves who want to make a dream into reality or create more meaning in their lives.” She is the co-Creator of The Real Estate Game®, and hosts the annual JumpStart Workshop.)