Life's little possibilities: new ways of dealing with problems and worrying
27th November, 2011
Life’s little possibilities – new ways of seeing and dealing with problems and worry
Most people know what it feels like to worry. They mention the butterflies, the distracting thoughts, the sweaty palms, the unpleasant feeling that life will never be the same again. Unfortunately much of the time worrying doesn’t play a useful function whether we have an unexpectedly large bill to pay, concerns about our health or our relationships, or the security of our jobs seems to be at risk. Worrying takes our energy as it tends to paralyse us from taking action that would help. We drown in our fears about the future and feel victimised by our gloomy thoughts.
Stop worrying and start thriving
So if worry just adds to our emotional pain and does not help us avoid any risks that may be coming what can we do? Even people who don’t seem to worry have undesirable outcomes in life. We put off taking action to solve our problems, the body is affected and we start getting headaches, muscular pains and even stomach ulcers. Day to day life becomes a nightmare of worry and all pleasure and joy seems elusive. We feel we are too busy worrying to either enjoy life’s pleasures or even fix our problems.
You may be reading this in the hope of discovering another way of dealing with worry. And there is.
First identify what happens for you.
Have you noticed you find yourself worrying about the tiniest thing, often blowing it out of all proportion and fearing the worst outcome?
Do you feel exhausted by the impact this has on your quality of life, your relationships and your own wellbeing and fulfilment?
Here are some tips for moving beyond worrying towards a more fulfilling way of living. (you may have your own tips too).
Change the viewing of your problem and gain mastery over it like you wouldn’t believe!
- Try using another word to describe the parts of your life that are causing this situation. Try ‘concern’ ‘the hope’ or ‘the challenge’ or something else. These words are more focussed on finding a solution and are more hopeful and future oriented. You will notice a shift in yourself as you change to these words rather than saying ‘worried’, ‘worried sick’ or similar.
- Restrict the amount of time you allow yourself to worry. Just say ‘stop’ when you find yourself worrying too much.
- Check the reality: ask yourself ‘how likely is it that what I am fearing will happen?’ ‘How bad would it be if it did?’
- Decide if the worst did happen you would deal with it.
- Taking action towards the solution is helpful, practical and lowers your anxiety levels. What action do you need to take?
Imagine what your life would be like if you woke up one morning and your current preoccupation had gone overnight. What would you notice about yourself? What would other people notice about you and how you were behaving and feeling? What would you be doing different to now? Take time to note these answers in detail in a journal or share with a friend.
When have you had success dealing with a similar challenge?
Think of yourself now. Imagine a scale of 1-10 with 1 being the worst the problem has ever been and 10 being the best it has ever been. Where are you now?
Joanna a care worker longed for time to develop her own business and was delighted when she was made redundant thinking it would give her the time and opportunity she needed to develop her business. She started reading about marketing and talking about her plans but soon noticed she was not making concrete progress and was running out of money. She turned from manifesting her dream business into worrying about money. She started imagining herself getting into debt and even becoming homeless. Joanna wanted her own business but was nervous about getting started mainly because she was doubting her skills. She had not practised her profession long enough and had lost her confidence. She was not taking any action towards building her own business and was spending all her time ruminating about what she didn’t want in her life.
What about you and your worries?
- Think of what you would like in your daily life and start to take small actions to achieve it.
- When does what you want happen even a little bit?
Joanna’s scale point was at 1 (quite low) but not at 0.
I asked her what made her choose 1 and not 0.
She said that she had practised her professional skills with a volunteer and had received complimentary feedback. That had helped her give herself a score of 1 rather than 0.
Joanna can now think about how she can get more of this helpful feedback to build her confidence again.
Now think of this for yourself:
- What would you like to occur? When does what you want happen even a little bit?
- How does this occur? Do more of it.
- What did Joanna do?
She decided to go on a refresher course to upgrade her skills and confidence and get the chance to practise on more volunteers. She also realised that it was normal for people to lack confidence when they had been out of practice for a while.
Her score on the confidence scale went up to 2.5 and then she met somebody on the course who offered her a room for her practice in exchange for doing some office work. This was a resource that helped her feel supported and the score on the confidence scale went up to 3.
She then started to think what she wanted to achieve next as her confidence increased and she worried less.
Where are you on that scale? Why not try it out?
Related articles from our experts
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Greg Savva, Counselling in Twickenham & Whitton, Masters Degree, UKCP,March 9th, 2017
Andrea Harrn Psychotherapist and Author of The Mood CardsMay 13th, 2011
Imi Lo: Psychotherapist, Art Therapist, Supervisor (MMH,UKCP,HCPC,MBPsS)March 29th, 2015
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