Maybe it’s the heightened anxiety of the times we are living in, but the theme of the last month has been talking clients out of the tree – helping them restore centered calm as they explore next career steps, engage in active job searches, and build their dreams into reality.
I am a born worrier. (It’s a sign of a very active imagination!) I can think of the most infinitesimal possibility and reach to the stratosphere to grab it and pull it through space into my reality as a spoken fear or a temporary hysteria. Truly, if there were such a thing, I’d win the gold in the Catastrophic Thinking Olympics.
How is that possible when I’m known for championing the reduction of thought pollution and helping people see their way to the “land of positive outcomes.” Circumstances wired me that way, and the habit is a well-worn path in my brain. It took years to tame it, but these days, more times than not, I can have the worry, see the imagined negative outcome, and move on pretty quickly.
My worry-basher of choice is one I learned from the man who trained me to become one of the first credentialed coaches in the US – Thomas Leonard. The powerful distinction that disintegrates the worry is this:
FACT vs. INTERPRETATION
What is a fact, and what is the meaning we attach to the fact? Separating the two calms the reptilian brain that otherwise desperately tries to feed on your calm and sabotage your efforts.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t some very real things to be concerned about, whether it is our political climate or the prospect of leaving a good job to have a go at your own business.
However, worry does not cause forward motion and solution. It does just the opposite.
A few people I’ve been coaching over the last few weeks have been making great progress on job searches, building new businesses and even securing a book deal. However, success, instead of building confidence, unleashed anxiety and worry.
One scenario, for example: the client landed a contract with a major publisher for her memoir she had been struggling to write for years. Instead of celebrating the win, she became imagining that having the book published would lead to wild success that would ruin her life.
Let’s look at the facts:
1. She finally got what she’s wanted for so long.
2. There is a deadline to finish that book.
THAT’s it. Those are the FACTS. The rest is projection into a future that is not here yet.
Surely, there are certain facts that have proven outcomes (favorable or not), but for the most part, the art of worry is imagination run amuck.
For our writer, focusing ONLY on the facts is allowing her to buckle down and finish her manuscript. There is no guarantee the book will be a bestseller that would change her day-to-day life. There is no evidence she’ll fail, either. The antidote to worry is to be where you are in THIS moment. In the “now,” not in the “then.”
If you’re running the worry track in your brain, STOP. Ask yourself what the FACTS are. The worry is only serving to keep you stuck, paralyzed, or overwhelmed.
How do I it? I let myself think the outrageous thought, imagine what I’d do if that crazy thing happened, and then I let it go.
It is said that worriers are good to have around. They think of the worst case scenario, come up with a plan, and they are ready if the worst happens. The key is to prepare for the worst, but PLAN for the best! Don’t invest in the worry!