BLOG_2020_06_04 Action is worrys worst enemy

“Action is worry’s worst enemy.” ~ Proverb

21 MAY 2020

You’ve probably done a lot of worrying of late.  Worrying has a bad rep because of all the damage it can do. Worrying is what keeps many of us awake at night, distracts us during the day, and gives our physical systems a workout we don’t need.

But what would you think if I said, “Worrying if it’s done right, can actually be helpful”?

Effective worrying can help us anticipate problems, devise artful solutions, and expand creative possibilities. According to Dr. Edward Hollowell, of the Harvard Medical School, worry is nature’s way of helping us anticipate—and avoid— danger. Good worry leads to constructive action.

When you find yourself in bed at night, tossing and turning, plowing the same field, again and again, you’re in the midst of worry of the worst kind: self-perpetuating. The more you worry, the more stress chemicals feedback to the brain, telling it to worry more. When you find yourself mired in this worry bog, the best thing to do is to get physical. Get up, move. Action will temporarily relieve the worrying. When you come back to the problem, you may even have a better perspective on it. Taking a walk, working out, going for a bike ride or a run can help relieve worry. Exercise increases blood flow, meaning more oxygen to the brain. Exercising regularly means you will probably worry less.

Try writing down your worries in a journal. Simply writing your fears and concerns down takes some of the power out of them and gives you a sense of control. Writing your worries also gives you an opportunity to write possible solutions. Try this: write down the worry and, without thought to how workable or realistic the solutions are, write them down as fast as they come to mind. Don’t stop to think, just write idea after idea. Given this creative outlet, the same brain that was nagging you with worries can offer ingenious and often elegant solutions.  Try putting a note pad next to your bed too so when you wake up in the middle of the night worrying, you can do a “brain dump”.  By getting all your worry down on paper, you allow your brain to relax so you can get back to sleep quicker.  You may even have a good laugh at what you wrote in the morning!

Another way to put your worries to work for you is to tell a friend. Ask for feedback, another perspective. Or ask someone to simply listen. Giving voice to your worries can take some of the wind out of their bedraggled sails. Keep in mind, there may be times when the counsel and advice of a professional are called for — don’t hesitate to ask, and don’t worry about appearing foolish by your questions.

Also, consider turning your worry into action by getting outside yourself. Whether you find community through family, work, friends, church, neighborhood projects, groups, or organizations, being a part of something bigger than yourself can give you a sense of safety and connectedness. Turning the focus from inside to out means there’s no place for worry to abide.  You will also feel a stronger sense of control.

So worrying can sends us signals – Is it true?

Byron Katie, an author who teaches a self-inquiry process called “The Work”, states worry is a story we use to torture ourselves. She advises to write down our stressful thoughts, and then ask the following four questions:

Question 1: Is it true?

Question 2: Can I absolutely know it's true?

Question 3: How do I react (what happens) when I believe that thought?

Question 4: Who would I be without that thought?

Katie then asks us to “Turn the thought around”. The "turnaround" invites us to examine the opposite of what we originally believed to be true.  It gives us a different perspective, allows us to be open, non-judgmental, and to come from a place of love rather than fear. 

Here's an example:

Claire believes her start-up business is failing because revenue isn’t growing as anticipated so she doesn’t sleep well at night. 

She answers the four questions:

1. Is it true?  “Well, it’s not growing the way I planned but I’m still here. I’m making adjustments and pivots to adapt. So no, it’s not true.”

2. Can I absolutely know it’s true?  “I guess not. I still have revenue coming in and there are prospects. I am gaining clarity and focus on how to move forward.”

3. How do I react when I believe my business is failing?  “I shut down, get depressed, worry, feel like I’m a failure – I take it personally.”

4. Who would I be if I didn’t think this way?  “I would be more confident and able to speak to potential clients owning my brilliance and expertise.  They need me!”

Turnaround: “I am a successful businesswoman with enormous potential because I am brilliant and offer value and expertise to all my amazing clients. I get all the sleep I need and want, waking up refreshed and full of energy to find those new clients waiting for me to show up!”

Can you see how the turnaround can shift your perspective?

What’s your turnaround statement to your most pressing worry? 
Do you have an action plan?

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