“Worry is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.” – Arthur Somers Roche
We are still in a pandemic over two years later, you read the news and there is great uncertainty and instability around the world. It is a constant barrage of hardship and suffering. Worry can be a knee jerk reaction. Worry is defined as, dwelling on problems or unpleasant things that might happen in a way that makes you feel unsettled and anxious. Do you find yourself worrying? If so, keep reading.
If worry is a pattern for you, I highly recommend you make time do the following exercise on how to manage your mind. It is a worry Inventory. Then after you have finished that, write a list to prepare yourself for future worrying. That is being strategic, not negative. Make a list of activities that you can do to create a “state change”, (do some chores that need to be done, exercise, engage in some form of movement, read a book, sit down with a magazine, or do something creative).
Label this list “How I manage my mind”. Then write down activities that will let your redirect your thinking in ways that neutralize your thoughts. This is powerful because you are giving your mind a reprieve, disrupting dwelling on “what if” so you can get some perspective. This is a key step in supporting your well-being.
I actively worked on this when we were evacuated during the Waldo Canyon fire in 2012. We had just done a big remodel in our house and clients were flying in from the East Coast to have a business retreat at my house. My co-leader for the retreat and friend had just lost everything in the fire. I was consumed with worry. I drove to the mountains and stayed with family during the evacuation. To release pent up energy I walked down Main Street and spied this bumper sticker. It woke me up to the reality; worrying isn’t helpful mentally, emotionally or physically. It is nonproductive and distracting, it keeps me spinning in my head…. That bumper sticker has stayed with me and was a huge reframe in my thinking.
That bumper sticker coupled with this powerful mantra is how I regularly disrupt patterns of worry and feeling stuck. “Don’t talk hope, and live worry!”
Here is a checklist that supports how I personally handle difficult situations when I get stuck in my head.
How I manage my mind:
Answer these questions without a lot of editing. Then go back and refine your answer.
- Clarify, what is it that I am worrying about?
- What is the worst thing that could happen?
- Do I have control over it?
- Can I reframe this to be empowering, instead of stressing me out or causing analysis paralysis?
- Is there someone who can help me with this problem?
- What would the consequences be if I chose to pause? Would “sleeping on this” be helpful to give me a better perspective?
- If I cannot wait until tomorrow, write down some actionable solutions to this situation.
- If this worrying is turning into severe anxiety, depression or suicidal ideation, please call a professional and seek help immediately!
“Sorrow looks back. Worry looks around. Faith looks up.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
This leads me to my last step in reframing my mindset: The first paragraph of the Serenity Prayer gets me back on track.
God, grant me the Serenity
To accept the things I cannot change…
Courage to change the things I can,
And Wisdom to know the difference.
(prayer attributed to Reinhold Neibuhr)
For those of you who want more information on making an impact for good by becoming a “leader worth following”, I would love to set up a time to chat with you. My next Inner Circle starts in June and authentic, effective leadership is what we will be focusing on in the group. I have a few spots still available!! Here is the scheduling link to create time to talk about leadership and how you be more effective as a leader.
As you strengthen your mindset this month, to put a lilt in your step, go for a walk and listen to Bobby McFerrin’s song; Don’t Worry, Be Happy! It’s hard not to be influenced by his contagious perspective.