Leave Worry in the Wind
“Worry” has its origins in the word that means “to choke” or “to strangle.” And although it’s a toxic emotional condition that can feel like it’s literally choking us at times, most of what we worry about doesn’t ever happen. Nevertheless, many of us spend a lot of energy on the “what ifs” in life. We often find ourselves thinking about threats, pitfalls and failures — a mindset that can easily spiral out of control and get dangerous. As leaders, it’s important for us to recognize worry and realize how the anxiety and frustration it causes can paralyze our potential. It not only can keep us from acting when we should, but it can also crush dreams and even fuel compulsive, unnecessarily aggressive behaviors. If you’ve ever struggled with this habit, know you’re not alone. But do try to make a new personal commitment to ignore what’s beyond your control, zero in on the present, and then act on what you can control.
Here’s how to combat worry:
Understand that worrying is not a solution. Some people think that in worrying about what could happen in the future or about things that are beyond their control, that they’re going to be prepared for whatever comes their way. They allow worrying to be the strategy for managing fears about the future. Most of what they worry about won’t ever happen and worrying is time-consuming. Anything that needlessly robs others of this most precious resource is destructive to their potential. It actually takes away the very time and energy that’s needed to address what they can control.
Write your worries down. One of the best ways to address worries effectively is to get them out of your head and down on paper. Carve out a few minutes every week or day (if you need it) to make a list of what’s troubling your mind. When you do this, you’ll be able to more clearly see the difference between what’s real and what’s not. Better yet, create two categories — things you can control and things you cannot control. Just seeing these two lists and that there are many things beyond your control should ease the burden you’re carrying.
Act on what you can. Once you identify what you can control, determine how you’re going to do it. For example, if you’re worried about losing your job but see that as something you can generally control, then ask what steps or actions you can take to help ensure you keep your job. Perhaps you will work more hours, show more enthusiasm, nurture key relationships, learn new skills, etc. Assign these actions to counter and combat your fear, focusing on what you can control, not what’s beyond your control.
How have you effectively addressed worry in your past?