I come from a family of worriers, and I had to work hard to stop this pattern of thinking if I ever wanted to enjoy my life. Some of the women in my family especially are absolute pros, and I think it’s partly cultural. We have a parable in Bulgaria about a mother and a daughter crying because they saw a knife stuck in the ceiling. They thought that if one day the daughter gets married and has a child, the baby could die from the knife falling and killing her firstborn son. They got so upset from their imaginary tragedy that they started weeping for unborn Petko, only to be found by the unsuspecting father. Next time you catch yourself spinning out of your calm state, you can think of these ladies and have a little laugh.
I used to get a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach from so many things. The nervousness made me sad and it left me feeling powerless. I’d anticipate negative outcomes and slide down the slippery slope of these unnecessary worries. The development of this pattern is easily explained by my childhood and the realistic fears I used to have that came from big escalations between my parents. When they finally separated when I was 15, I could start my healing journey. At first, I just remember enjoying not living in the fear of my dad’s presence. There were no doors being slammed, nobody yelling, screaming, or overall being aggressive. My brother, my mother, and I happily coexisted in our 1-bedroom condo that we had to move into. We kept acknowledging that we could, for the first time, enjoy feeling happiness and joy.
Years later, I realized that the fear lingered in other areas of my life that weren’t related to my dad’s presence. Worry was a bad habit I had developed as a result of years of living on edge. Moreover, I was afraid and worried about unrealistic threats from everyday situations. For example, I would be nervous if I had 8 clients back to back, and I would create this story in my head that I would be late for every single one of them and really upset all my clients. That has never happened, and I had to work on releasing this fear.
The key is to recognize the times you are starting to get worried. Work on getting better at recognizing the times when you don’t feel good. The next step is to identify the emotion. If it’s a worry-based thought or anxiety, use one or two of the strategies below.
- Stop and think: Can you do anything about the problem right NOW? If not, just wait to worry until you are actually able to change the circumstances.
- Accept that you will never run out of problems to solve. No money, success, or relationships will make everything in your life perfect and totally worry-free.
- Think of your worries in another context. If you were an alien and came to earth, would you think this is really bad and important? Or, try thinking about it as someone from another country, stepping into your shoes.
- Stop and wonder if this will matter in 5 years. If not, drop the worry ASAP. Also, could this be a good story potentially?
- Consider that the life you’ve picked comes with this set of worries and therefore you’ve chosen them yourself. If you are self-employed, you’ll have certain typical concerns, and if you are married or single, you’ll have others. Take responsibility for the life path you are on and accept that these issues are part of this path.
- You may be afraid of something, or of a specific unfavorable outcome for yourself. Acknowledge the fear and try choosing another positive thought instead. It’s okay to sometimes do things while scared. Other times, the fears are all in our head, and less than 5% likely to happen. Develop the skill to recognize the fear, identify if there is an actual threat, and move on with courage and faith that you are capable of figuring things out!
- Count backwards from 5 and do something. The 5 Second Rule: Transform Your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage by Mel Robbins suggests that counting down from 5 and taking an action is a proven technique, that’s also scientifically backed up by tons of research, to stop yourself from spinning out of control with your thoughts. You can use the rule to stop a thought process or to gain courage to take an action that has you frightened.
If you find it difficult to recognize your patterns, emotions, or you have a hard time using these tools, please feel free to reach out! You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I also offer a complimentary consultation, so take advantage of it if you feel overwhelmed. I can’t wait to hear from you!
In Love, Wellness, and Wisdom,