“You sound worried again, what is it this time?” I asked my client Susan. “I’m worried that if I don’t start getting more clients, I’m going to have to give up my business and get a ‘real job'”, she said.
This type of conversation seemed to be a theme with my clients and the prospective clients I spoke with this week. And believe me, I am an expert on worry. It’s something I work on with myself all the time.
Many years ago, I went hiking with a close friend who knew I constantly worried about everything. She had me pick up a stone every time I had a worrisome thought. The stone had to be a comparable size to and weight to the worry. Big worry, heavy stone, little worry, little stone. Needless to say, by the end of the hike I had accumulated quite a heavy load in my backpack! Just like in our lives, worrying can weigh us down.
I have learned over the years that worry is an abuse of our imagination. Instead of using our imagination to dream a beautiful future, we use it to manufacture nightmares. When we are full of anxiety, two things happen: one, our perceptions of reality are distorted and two, we simply do not see options that would be available to us if we were full of faith and confidence.
I have found the following three things very helpful in effectively dealing with worry.
1-Prepare for the worst, but expect the best. Whatever you are worrying about, make sure you are clear on what you believe is the worst thing that could happen in your “worry scenario”. Then prepare for it. Don’t expect it to happen, but know all the angles and the worst case scenarios.
2-Reprogram your negative thinking patterns. This is not easy, but with consistent practice, it can be done. There is always something to worry about. The challenge is to replace worryingabout problems with thinking about solutions.
3-Keep your attention anchored in the present. One of the secrets of overcoming worry is to keep your mind and body in the same time zone. Almost all emotional pain is caused by time travel-either built, regret and anger from the past, or fear and anxiety about the future. When you keep your attention anchored in the present, you can start to break the worry habit.
The images and messages you run through your mind today will profoundly influence the outcomes you get in the future. For example, if you really want to get something done, you’ll find the money to make it happen. But as soon as you worry you won’t have enough money to pay for a new project or expansion of your business, you’ve just taken the first step to killing it. So I urge you to think about these three steps and try to integrate them into your everyday thinking-you will soon find yourself on your way to achieving your vision!