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Thursday, December 16, 2010

How to Fight Worry

 By Jonathan Dudley


Do you ever feel like you have a million things to do, but not nearly enough time to complete them?
When we feel like this, it's easy for our mind to turn into overdrive, running through everything we have to do over and over again. With all of these thoughts running through our mind, we can easily get tense, worried and stressed out, so no wonder we are exhausted when we get to the end of the day. But worse than this, the quality of what we actually are doing decreases, as rather than focusing fully on what we are doing right now, our mind keeps returning to all of those uncompleted tasks.
It's hard to enjoy life when this pattern is running in our lives. So what can we do to combat this?
Notice the Pattern
First of all, just notice that this self-limiting pattern is running in your life. As you move through your day, set an intention to notice when you're feeling stressed or worried. When you notice this, catch yourself and observe the thoughts going through your mind. What specifically are you thinking about during these times? Do you worry that you can't get everything done? Do you worry about how certain people might react if you don't complete certain tasks? Try this for a few days, and at the end of each day, write down what you've noticed. Over a few days, you should start to get clearer about how worry is affecting your life.
OK, now that you've become clearer about the pattern, start the second part of this exercise. When you notice your mind engaged in this pattern of worrying about all of the things you have to do, stop and take a moment to center yourself. Close your eyes and take a few slow deep breaths. If there are people around and you're not in a situation where you can do this, excuse yourself and find somewhere that you can. With your eyes closed, start to notice the sounds in your environment, and the feeling of your body breathing in and out. If you notice that thoughts continue to come into your mind, then allow them to be there, but don't focus on them - focus on your environment and your body, on being.
Instead of Reacting - Respond
Now acknowledge that as a human being you do not have control over the world. You can do the best that you can, but you can't control everything that happens. Acknowledge that you can only do so much, and that you can only do one thing at a time. Calmly start to think about what you really need to get done, and choose one item that you will start with. What item, if you spent some time on it, would really make the most difference? Then resolve to start working on that item. Resolve to really focus on that one item and to see it through to completion. And if that item happens to be "planning" then that's fine - in that case focus exclusively on making your plan.
Then while you are working, when you notice those thoughts coming into your mind of all the things that are not getting done, allow them to be, but return to focusing on what you are doing, knowing that you are working on the item that is most important. Continue this process and try to spend one day largely doing one thing at a time in this way.
Notice the Difference
After the exercise take some time to look back over the two approaches and how they affected you - is life less stressful, less rushed and more enjoyable when you can focus only on what you are doing in the present moment, knowing that the other tasks will get done when you get to them?
Rather than allowing your mind to endlessly plan out the future and focus on all of the things that could happen, instead make the choice to focus on what you can control, and the only thing you can control is where you place your focus - right now.
Jonathan Dudley helps young professionals who feel trapped or at a dead end in their career, to find a career that they really love, where they can experience real passion and a deep sense of purpose.
You can find out more about how Jonathan can help you find the career of your dreams at where you can get a copy of his special report "10 Ways to Take Back Control of your Workday".

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