I worry too much and it is draining joy from my life, but I honestly cannot stop. I am really good at thinking of everything that could possibly go wrong with every situation. Even when things are going good, I can think of things to be worried about. My spouse says that I can rain on any parade. How does one turn that off? Do you have some advice?
First, understand that worries are nothing more than perspective. Everything you feel and experience is just perspective and in every situation there are other perspectives you could choose, which could make you feel different. I want you to take your thoughts (worries) less seriously. They are not facts. They are just ideas.
Unfortunately, it sounds like worry has become your autopilot or subconscious default perspective. You can look at anything and immediately see something to fear. This happens so fast, you don’t see the other perspective options available to you. You must slow down and become more mindful. This means stepping back and observing what you are thinking, then consciously deciding if it serves you.
Here are 10 ways to get control over worry and choose a different perspective:
1) Remind yourself worry never robs tomorrow of problems, it only robs today of joy. Studies have shown most of the things you worry about will never happen and the bad things which do happen, are usually out of your control and no amount of worrying could have prevented them. This means that worry is a waste of your time and energy. It does not change the outcome of the future and it does not protect you. It only robs you of your ability to thrive today.
2) If there is something you can do right now, do it. If there is nothing you can do right now, let it go. Choose to be present and focus on where you are. Look for people to serve or love, or action that would make a positive difference in your life. Stay present. George Macdonald said, “No man ever sank under the burden of the day. It is when tomorrow's burden is added to the burden of today that the weight is more than a man can bear.” Take everything one moment at a time.
3) There is a difference between worrying and planning. When you have a big project you may need to spend some time thinking about the problems and figuring out how to handle obstacles, but you can do this planning in a state of optimism and trust believing everything will work out for the best or you can do this in a state of fear. Planning and should feel peaceful and wise, while worrying in fear feels anxious and out of control. Choose to plan not worry by choosing optimism.
4) Choose optimism. A state of optimism means trusting the universe that it is a classroom that is always conspiring for your good. Believe things always work out to serve you in the end. You don’t know they will work out, but you don’t know they won’t work out either. Given that it could go either way you might as well choose a positive, optimistic attitude because doubt, fear and worry are less fun and less motivating. Remember, worry saps your energy and leaves you less able to deal with what does happen.
5) Put worries in the worry closet. Don’t let yourself think about problems all day long. Instead set aside some time (maybe an hour late in the day) when you can sit down and process your concerns. When worry shows up during the day, put those worries in a worry closet and lock the door. The worries are still there, but you are not dealing with them right now. Don’t try to stop worrying. This actually keeps you thinking about not thinking about it, which is actually still thinking about it. Just put them in the worry closet until later. When the time comes, open the worry closet and walk inside. Give yourself a specific amount of time to dwell in worry, plan and process all the concerns. Use some of the strategies below to do that.
6) Figure out what is in your control and what’s not. Get a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. on the right side write down everything that is in your control and on the left everything that is out of your control. You will find the right side list is usually shorter. Decide to take action on those things. The rest is out of your control and does you no good to worry about.
7) Focus on solutions. During your worry closet time, instead of dwelling on your fears, focus on solutions to the problem. Brain storm solutions and don’t stop until you come up with 50. This will push you to stretch your imagination and come up with new ideas. You might want to recruit family or coworkers to brainstorm with you. Two heads are better than one.
8) Uncertainty is part of life and it doesn’t have to scare you. Accept that uncertainty is beautiful part of the adventure of life. Not knowing what tomorrow holds isn’t a bad thing it is just unknown - and the truth is it is just as likely to be good as it is bad. If you put your trust in God and this amazing classroom universe he created, you can walk into each unknown adventure without fear. Trusting God and the universe is the key to peace.
9) Spend time dwelling on positive feelings. Gay Henricks, Phd and author of the book The Big Leap says most of us are subconsciously programmed to sabotage ourselves if too much success and positive change starts to happen. We may think we don’t deserve the good or don’t believe it can happen to us. We may start worrying because it is a feeling we are more used to. Worry is more "in our comfort zone" than accepting the positive is. You should always step back from negative thinking or worry, and check yourself for subconscious self-sabotage. Ask yourself these questions:
What is this worry showing up for?
How could this worry be trying to keep me safe or protect me from something?
What positive thing might be manifesting in my life?
What do I fear about getting this positive thing that could make me push it away or deny it?
What would happen if I embraced the positive?
Instead of dwelling in the worry sit with the positive thoughts about what could go right for a minute. How would it feel to let this positive thing happen and not worry about it or doubt it? Feel the positive feelings and get used to how they feel. Embrace them and believe you deserve good things to happen. Practice accepting positive from the universe.
10) Fear is a choice. You may not believe you have a choice about fear and worry, especially if it has been your autopilot setting most of your life, but you do.
Fear is a choice, and so is peace.
Choose to trust the universe and the process of your life. See life as a wise teacher that is constantly conspiring to serve you, educate you and make you stronger, smarter and more loving every minute of every day. It is on your side and if you trust your higher power and the amazing classroom universe more deeply, you will find there is nothing to fear because there isn't.
There is nothing to fear.
You can do this.
I liked your article about overcoming shyness, but I need help with this at work. I know I am insecure and lack self-confidence at work. I think it is the only place this really shows up. I’m pretty confident at home and with friends, but at work I totally hold back. I play it safe and don’t comment or share my ideas enough. I don’t speak up when things bother me either or when I have a suggestion. At my last performance review my boss mentioned this and said they take my being quiet as being someone with nothing to give or add. How can I speak up with more confidence and not make a fool of myself?
People who are confident at work, speak up and take initiative, always get more opportunities, more raises, more promotions and generally go farther in their careers than people who don't. More doors open for people who are assertive, confident and willing to take risks.
Speaking up shows people that you trust yourself and it makes them trust you too. If you stay quiet in the background, it will eventually make people think you have nothing to give. People could also make incorrect assumptions from your silence about who you are and what you think. You must speak up in order to define yourself and show the boss you are invested.
You may be afraid to speak up at work for one of these three reasons:
1. You suffer from a fear of failure. This means you have fear around being embarrassed or looking bad. You are overly afraid of making mistakes and worried about what people think of you. I believe everyone on the planet battles this fear to some degree on a daily basis, the only question is only how bad you have it.
2. You have a fear of success. This means you play small and shoot low because it feels safer than trying harder. You may be afraid of the responsibilities and commitments that would come with shooting higher. You just want to stay in your comfort zone instead of taking on additional challenges. The problem is, people can subconsciously feel this fear and they tend to honor it by passing you by. If you cannot see yourself handling more responsibility, it won’t be given to you.
3. You have a fear of loss. This means you are afraid of being mistreated or taken from at work. You may have trust issues and see other people as a threat. This could encourage you to hold back and protect yourself, hold onto your ideas and keep them from others. You may be afraid of being walked on or losing control.
You must learn to break through these fears if you are going to reach your full potential at work. I’m going to give you some tips on how to do this, but if this is a big issue for you, I highly recommend getting an executive or life coach. There is also a Fear Assessment on my website I use with business people to help them understand how fear affects their subconscious behavior. You may want to try it.
Here are some tips for being more confident and speaking up at work:
1. Recognize the benefits you are getting from staying in your comfort zone. What do you get to avoid? Who does it punish? What are you afraid of losing if you took on more? Free time? Your excuses? List on paper the benefits you could be getting from your current "chicken" behavior. Then, list the benefits you might gain by changing yourself. What do you really want?
2. Remember that life is a classroom, not a test, which means your value as a person is not on the line.Your value is not changeable and is not determined by your performance at work. This means you have nothing to fear, though you always have much to learn. Work on seeing each situation as a lesson, which is serving your growth, but not attached to your value. Your value is absolute and never changes. This will make you bulletproof and braver at work.
3. Tackle challenges in small doses, one step at a time. Raise the bar slowly. You can handle the next small step out of your comfort zone now. Gear up for that. Take one small step today and then do another tomorrow.
4. Choose to focus on serving others. The law of energy says you can feel only one emotion at a time. If you choose to focus on love and serving others, it is impossible to feel fear. How can you make your work about giving to others and not about you?
5. Gain knowledge. Knowledge often eliminates fear. What skills would make you feel more confident at work? Sign up for a class to improve those skills. Marie Curie said, “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that (you) may fear less.” Join Toast Masters to help you with speaking or take a class on better project management.
6. Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses. What are you good at? How can you use those abilities to the fullest? Can you use them more?
7. Accept failure as a part of success. Barbara Sher, the author of "Wishcraft," said, “If you try and fail, you won’t feel as bad as you think. You’ll gain experience, education, contacts and self-confidence.” Anyone who has accomplished great things has been through failures. I tell my clients to fail faster instead of playing it safe. Each failure moves you closer to success.
8. Focus on the present. Fear is always about the future. Stay in the present and focus on what you can do today. Who do you want to be in this moment? If you focus on your whole project or your whole career you will get overwhelmed. Just focus on being your best today.
9. Visualize yourself comfortably handling more responsibility. If you can’t see it, you can’t achieve it. Visualize yourself carrying responsibilities with ease and confidence. I can't stress enough the power of visualization.
10. Before you make a comment, check yourself by asking “Why am I bringing this up?"
12. Always ask questions and listen to others first. This will give you more information that is always helpful before you speak, and it will help you know how to say it the right way. It also shows that you are open to their ideas, and it makes them feel respected, and that will make them more open to listening to you.
13. Ask permission to share your thoughts. Would you be open to letting me share a few ideas on this? Asking permission shows people you honor and respect them and it also makes sure you have their attention.
14. Speak up in a respectful and effective way. Explain your motivation for bringing this up. Use "I" statements to explain your position, avoid using "you" statements, which can feel like an attack and are presumptuous. Also, don’t ramble. Keep it short and concise. This shows that you honor everyone's time.
15. Show that you are open to a discussion on the topic and even being wrong. Be open and willing to bend, hear opposing ideas and learn. You don't think you know everything nor have to be right. If this person disagrees with you, you could go back to step 12 and follow the last steps again. You can do this over and over until you both feel understood and a good solution is found.
If you practice all these, I promise your confidence to speak up at work will increase.
You can do this.
I have a tendency to see the worst in every situation and assume things are my fault. Apparently it is driving my spouse crazy. She says that I always look at the negative side of everything and I am too quick to blame myself. I guess I’m a pessimist. Is there any way to change that? Can I somehow get a more positive outlook on life and situations? I think better self-esteem would help, but I don’t know how to get there. I’d love some help on this.
Better self-esteem would help you, and I’ve written quite a few articles on changing the way you see yourself (that you should read) but I think you also need to learn about your attributional (or explanatory) style. Your attributional style is the way you subconsciously explain events, what caused them and what they mean. Every moment of the day you are attributing events to certain factors that explain why they happened. The secret to optimism is to attribute events in a more positive way. Learning to do this also helps you battle depression and anxiety too.
Many of us have faulty attributional styles (that we picked up in childhood) and we tend to automatically see events in a more personal, negative and depressing way than an optimist might interpret the exact same event. Your personal attributional style is determined by three factors. The factors are:
Pessimists tend to see events as being internal or personal, and they see this in a negative way. They assume the problem is always about their inadequacies. They could also tend to see every problem as someone else’s fault and therefore they take no responsibility for their behavior and feel powerless to change their lives. Pessimists also tend to see events as stable (like they are always going to be bad) or they see them as unstable with a feeling of powerlessness again. Pessimists also tend toward making global assumptions. When one bad thing happens they assume everything will be bad.
Optimists usually have better self-esteem and don’t blame themselves and their personal faults for creating problems. If something is their fault though they tend to take responsibility for it with the understanding that it doesn’t change their value as a person. Optimists usually tend to either see things as stable and mostly good or they believe in their own power to change the things they don’t like. They also tend to let a bad situation stay in that situation, and they don’t assume the negative is going to affect everything else.
Take some time with that worksheet and figure out your subconscious attributional style. Then understand you don’t have to let your subconscious programming drive. You have the power to change your perspective and see things a different way. This is one of the most important truths we all need to embrace more fully.
We are too quick to let our subconscious mind determine how we are going to feel about situations. Many of us are even attached to the idea that we can’t help how we feel. We think our feelings are out of our control. The truth is, your first subconscious reaction may be out of your control, but you can always step back from a feeling and see other options (as far as how you are going to see it, feel about it and respond to it). There are always positive perspective options.
It will take some time and practice to change your style and the way you see your life, but you can do it. I watch people change their perspectives on life and their self-worth every day in coaching.
To fix your self-esteem you will need to change your perspective about your value. Right now you subconsciously believe your value is changeable and unstable (that you can lose value and be worth less than other people, or you gain value and be better than others). You believe your value is in question and you must prove you have any. You could change your mindset on this right now and choose to see your value as stable, unchangeable and the same as everyone elses. You could see your value as a person is infinite, absolute and always good enough. This is a life-changing mindset shift that would do you (and everyone reading this) a lot of good.
You can also change the way you see your life’s journey. Instead of seeing life as out to get you and the universe as a dangerous place, you can choose to see life as a safe place and the universe as a wise teacher, who that is constantly conspiring to educate and serve you. You can choose to believe there is nothing to fear. Changing your thinking about this will literally change your life.
If you struggle to make these changes on your own, I highly recommend finding a coach or counselor to help you. A little professional guidance makes the process much easier
You can do this.
How do I stop being so shy and teach my children not to be so shy? I’m afraid of people and most situations and my children have picked up on this and are afraid too. Please help!!!!
The good news is scientists have found the gene for shyness. They would have found it sooner but it was hiding behind some other genes.
But I do have some good advice on this one.
The first crucial step in helping someone change their behavior is making them feel unconditionally loved and accepted for who they are now.
Make sure your child knows it’s OK to feel shy. It happens to everyone, and there is nothing wrong with him. There are actually some interesting advantages to being shy.
Shy people are usually more polite and considerate to others. They tend to pay more attention to things, because they aren’t as busy talking. Shy people may create better friendships, because they go for quality, not quantity. Shy people can be better at working independently and solving problems on their own. They may also be smarter, because they think things through more before they act.
Here are a few things you can do (and do with your children) to help you overcome fear of social interactions:
When going somewhere new, talk to your child and prepare him ahead of time. Talk about the anxiety he might feel and what he might feel afraid of. Talk about ways he can cope with his fears and calm himself down. If you are the shy person, you can think these things through and even journal about them. Write out some options for handling situations you think may happen
Plan some safe and successful social interactions. Plan lots of social events with familiar people as often as you can. This will build confidence for branching out to new settings with new people.
Learn some more social skills. You may want to find a coach or counselor who can teach you some communication and relationship skills. Knowing exactly how to respond to different situations gives you a lot of confidence. Visualize using these skills, practice, and role play with them at home. Practice how you would introduce yourself and start conversations. These are things your children also need to learn, so share what you learn with them.
Dale Carnegie’s book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” is a great book to teach you some of these skills. Carnegie recommends strategies like asking questions and letting other people do the majority of the talking. This makes people feel important and like you. Teaching children these techniques will empower them to handle social situations too.
Model healthy social behaviors yourself. Shyness is a highly genetic trait. You must show your child good social skills by example. If you avoid social situations or are nervous around people, you are teaching your child to fear people. Get some professional help with your own self-esteem and people skills if necessary.
Never criticize your child or embarrass them in public or around their peers. When they make a mistake, help them understand mistakes don't define them. We all make mistakes. They may have made a bad choice, but they are not a bad person. Mistakes are just lessons and nothing to be afraid of. Teach them to see life as a classroom (where we are learning, but our value isn’t in question) not a test (where everything counts on your grade). This one mind-set change will help a lot.
Teach your child that what other people think of him doesn’t matter. People are usually not paying attention to others anyway. They are focused on themselves. Help him understand that other people’s opinions can’t change or hurt him. They don’t mean anything.
Teach creative problem solving. Don’t solve problems for your child. Ask questions and empower him to figure out the answers on his own.
Let your child change slowly. Change is a process and happens slowly, step by step. Help your child to set small goals and make a little progress each week. Let him decide what those goals might be. Encourage things like talking to one new person today.
Visualization is a great way to practice social behavior. He can practice handling social situations differently in his head. Teach your child to practice in his mind until he is ready to try it for real.
The best way to encourage another person to change is by encouragement. Tell your child often how confident and capable he is. If you tell him he is strong and brave, he will believe you.
I would strongly recommend some coaching or counseling to help you overcome your social anxiety. It is an easy fix with a professional who knows how to help. After you get your fears under control, you will be able to teach your children a better way of feeling and responding to life. We also have lots of free resources on our website to help you overcome fear. They would really help too.
You can do this.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.