Is Worry Holding You Back? With 4 Strategies, 3 Helpful Questions and More! | By Ruby McGuire

Cartoon bird on a purple backgroundAre you a worrier? I know I can be. In our current times, there are many things for us to be concerned about. And worry is also often exacerbated by the stories we tell ourselves about a situation - and what may or may not happen...

The main way I worry is overthinking. We create lots of lovely stories that magnify the initial worry and before you know it, it's turned into a great big monster you feel you can't control.

My thoughts on the difference between anxiety and worry:

To be clear, I'm not a counsellor - and in this post I am sharing my own personal thoughts on worry - not anxiety.

For me, anxiety is different to worry in that worry can be managed, because we know we're worrying about something specific - and therefore often have some control over it. Anxiety feels more outside of our control.

Strategy 1: Rather than Worry, View Things as a Challenge to Overcome

Let's say you're about to do be a guest interviewee or you're going to do a 'Facebook Live'. When we choose to view this as a challenge to overcome, we do lots of planning and preparation. This way we'll be as competent as we can possibly be.

Alternatively, you can assume that it will be disastrous and everything will go wrong. You imagine your mind going blank. You worry that you'll prepare for all the wrong things and it will be a complete failure.

Which one of these stories is going to help you most? That planning and preparation is what I need, or worrying that it's going to go horribly wrong?

If you're also into the law of attraction, you'll know that you need to focus on the results you want (not worrying about what might go wrong), because we get what we focus on!

Let's play for a moment….

Are you worried about being visible in your business right now?

Maybe you're worried that with everything going on right now with the COVID-19 virus, you'll be judged for marketing your business. That's a natural worry, and there's no right or wrong answer to this. Many people are still marketing themselves because they believe they have a solution that helps people through these unsettling times. And some people are choosing to take a step back. The best answer is the one that sits right with you.

Here's a mini-exercise to focus on what you want, not what you don't want!

  • STEP 1: Write down one thing that worries you about being visible in your business right now. If you're not near pen and paper, just think what it might be.
    • Whatever your specific worry, it will probably bring up lots of feelings. Maybe you think you're going to be judged. You might feel vulnerable. You might feel disappointed that you're not as confident as other people etc.
  • STEP 2: Now write down or think about how you'd like to feel instead, and make the feelings you want super powerful words.
    • Words you want to pull out are things like calmer, in control, relaxed, prepared. If they aren't coming up then just imagine what it would feel like to be calmer, relaxed etc. instead of all of the stressful, sinking feelings that can come up with worry.

This will help you to think about how things could be different, opening you up to a place of possibility which is much more empowering - and encourages you to make changes.

And now that you've got to a place of how you'd like to feel, let's explore some more useful strategies to help you shift that worry.

Strategy 2: Is it Within Your Circle of Control?

The amount of worrying we do is impacted by how much control we have - or think we have - in a situation.

I love using Stephen Covey's 'Circles of Control' to help put things in perspective. If you haven't come across it, then think of a target, with three circles, a large outer one, a smaller middle circle and then the small circle in the centre:

  1. In the outer circle are things we can't control. Examples of worries we have no control over could include whether they create a vaccine for the COVID-19 virus, world hunger, or wanting someone to fall in love with us.
  2. In the middle circle are the things we can influence, but not necessarily control. Examples of worries we can influence include how likely it is that we get - or spread - the COVID-19 virus (we can wash our hands a lot, maintain physical distance etc). It could also include making suggestions for a work problem in a team meeting, or encouraging people to watch a movie that you like (we aren't talking manipulating others here, just about areas that we might be able to influence in some way).
  3. The inner circle is the circle of control. Examples of worries we have control over include how often we go outside, how much water we drink or how much study we do for a test.

By checking in on these circles you can identify areas that you have do - and don't - have control over.

A work example might be a Podcast we would really like to be featured on. We have control over whether we APPLY to be a guest on their podcast. But we don't have control over whether the other person says "Yes" - we can only influence their choice by thoroughly preparing the application form and being the best that we can be. Worrying about whether someone says "Yes" or not isn't going to change anything - because it's outside of our control!

EDITOR'S NOTE: In The Coaching Tools Company COVID Care Package, you'll find a free tool from us called The Spheres of Influence - that is based on this idea. With full instructions, you can use it with yourself or with clients to manage worries and fears!

Strategy 3: Ask These 3 Questions When You're Worrying!

Now that we've talked a bit about worry - and circles of control, here are 3 questions you can ask yourself when you notice you're worrying:

  1. As you think about your worry, ask yourself, "What triggered this worry?"
  2. Then follow this up with, "Is this worry within my circle of control?"
  3. Finally, ask yourself "What is the benefit of holding onto this worry?"

This last question can seem strange, but sometimes when we don't want to let go of something it's because it serves us somehow. Maybe by having the worry, you're too afraid to take a risk and put yourself out there. So, the benefit of holding onto this worry is that you get to stay safe...

Strategy 4: Stop Telling Yourself Stories & Challenge Your Assumptions

So, onto storytelling. We have wonderful imaginations, and our 'storytelling' about all the things that could go wrong can make us lose perspective. We're great at catastrophizing. We create unnecessary drama, overgeneralize and make assumptions. All of which moves us further into a worry state.

This is where reframing and challenging our assumptions can help us move forward.

Because when we challenge our stories and assumptions, we raise our awareness - and can then do something about it.

Have you ever heard someone say something along the lines of, "I'm bad at that, which just shows that I'm bad at everything!"

We must challenge this assumption! Does being bad at one thing mean you're bad at everything? Unlikely! You might not be great at writing social media posts but you might make a mean Spaghetti Bolognese!

So, is worry holding you back?

Well, it could be if you don't get your worry in check.

You could be holding yourself back by worrying that every move could be the wrong one - and end up doing nothing. Or perhaps you'll 'attract' mistakes because that's what you've been so busy focusing on...

Worrying also means you put out a very different energy in the world - one that doesn't invoke confidence in potential clients. If you're worried and don't believe in you, then why would others want to work with you?

FINAL TIP: Try to focus on solutions, rather than getting caught up in analyzing the worry itself - which can waste a lot of time and just get you more afraid!

Wrap up

So, it's time to sort this worry habit. And it's just that - a habit. How much you worry is within your control - if you learn to build awareness and challenge it! Then it can become a thing of the past.

Here are the 4 strategies I've shared:

  • Strategy 1: Rather than Worry, View Things as a Challenge to Overcome
  • Strategy 2: Is it Within Your Circle of Control? If not, let it go!
  • Strategy 3: Ask The 3 Questions When You're Worrying! Especially to raise your awareness around, "What is the benefit of holding onto this worry?"
  • Strategy 4: Stop Telling Yourself Stories & Challenge Your Assumptions

Your call to action is to choose one strategy and test it out. Let me know how you get on!

What helps you overcome your worry habit? Share in the comments below!

Ruby McGuireContributing Author: Ruby McGuire is a Business Mastery & Mindset Queen. She loves helping her clients step up and become leaders (Queens) of their businesses by developing leadership skills, ditching self-doubt and creating a success mindset. She currently runs Queen of Business Mastermind groups. You can also find Ruby at her pretty online home, on Facebook or satisfying her obsession of pinning on Pinterest! Finally, check out Ruby's Visibility Quiz, where you can find out just how visible you and your business really are!

 

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