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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Overcoming Worry About The Future


Do you ever find yourself worrying about what might happen? Do you imagine the worst and replay it over and over in your mind? You're human, so, it's natural to do that sometimes. However, the worry habit can get in the way of enjoying life and accomplishing what is most important to you. In this article, we'll explore some good questions to ask yourself to move through worry, so you can be at your best and enjoy what you are doing.
Let's begin by asking, what's behind your worry? Where are you coming from when you're doing that?
For our purposes, we can describe worry as a mental behavior that is a reaction to anxiety and fear. Fear is a reaction to your perception that something is threatening, dangerous, or painful. Anxiety is an uneasiness about what might happen.
So, worry is a response to anxiety and fear. It's a mental action that makes you feel like you are more prepared for what might happen. Yet worry isn't all that good a preparation for anything-is it? It tends to put you in a mental-emotional place of stress. Because of that, it keeps you from being relaxed, happy, present, and effective at what you are doing.
So, what's a better strategy for dealing with anxiety and fear?
To understand what could work better, let's look at the positive function of anxiety and fear. These feelings arise to alert us that we may need to take action. They tell us that we might need to do something in anticipation of some challenge that is facing us. This "alert to action" function can be important.
For example, anxiety and fear about an upcoming test can motivate you to study. Anxiety and fear when walking through a dark alley can keep you alert to protect yourself. Anxiety and fear about an upcoming work deadline can get you going on the work, spur you to gather resources and partners, and prepare you to do a great job. So, when fear and anxiety alert you to action you need to take right now, they can be very helpful.
However, when, instead of getting busy, you worry, that stalls the positive action process. Worry puts you ahead of yourself, out in the future, in a negative way. It tends to limit the positive actions you take now. It makes you do things like repeated checking to make sure things are O.K., which cycles into more stress and less efficiency. You tend to imagine all sorts of "bad things" that haven't actually happened yet and get locked into obsessing about them instead of doing what you need to do to really take care of a situation.
So, what's a more productive strategy to use when you start to feel anxious or afraid?
First, pause what you are doing and take a few slow deep breaths. Feel the sensation of breathing inside your body. Each time you exhale, give a deep sigh and let go. See if you can relax a bit deeper with each out-breath. Once, you've taken the edge off your anxiousness, you're ready for two important questions:
1. "Is there anything I need to be doing right now to prepare me for what I am afraid/anxious/worried about? Is there anything I can and need to do about that?"
If the answer is "yes" you can then ask yourself,
2a. "What is the best, most precise, and effective action I can take?"
Then, get busy doing that from a relaxed, proactive state of being.
2b. If the answer is "no," you can enjoy your return to the present moment and get on with what is actually important for you to do right now. You can ask yourself "What is truly important for me to do right now? What is my top priority?"
If this sounds too simple, I encourage you to give it a try. This little process is something that you can get better and better at with practice. One hint: The better you get at consciously relaxing yourself, the more accurate the answers you'll receive to your questions. If you'd like to learn more about conscious relaxation, check out the link in the Resource Box below.
Enjoy your practice!
Are you ready to de-stress, quiet your mind, and relax deeply? Discover how to take your stress management to the next level. For tips and techniques to reduce stress be sure to visit us here.
Kevin Schoeninger graduated from Villanova University in 1986 with a Master's Degree in Philosophy. He is certified as a Life Coach, Reiki Master Teacher, Qigong Meditation Instructor, and Personal Fitness Trainer.
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