Worries. They can start small and then quickly spiral out of control. The next thing you know you’re caught up in worrying about things that you can’t control. This can happen sooo easily when we start to feed our worries with our thoughts.
Says the woman who has fed her worries so many times over the years – until I learned what I was doing and how I was making things worse for myself. And that was about the time I finally stopped worrying about things that I couldn’t control.
I learned this a few months ago after I had a conversation with a friend. They were worrying about things that were out of their control and it was getting to be really stressing them out. So I asked them what they would do if a velociraptor came tearing through the room right now. And surprisingly, they actually stopped worrying! It was like all of their worries just vanished in an instant and they weren’t as stressed anymore.
Now, this might not work for everyone, but it’s definitely something that has helped me in the past when I’ve been struggling with my worries. More often than not, if I can take my focus off of things that are out of my control and instead focus on things that I can control, it helps me feel a bit more centered and a heck of a lot calmer than I was a moment before.
One way of doing this when you’re by yourself is to shout out loud STOP! Another strategy is to talk to yourself. When my worries start to spiral out of control I say to myself, “Woah Gethons” and I quickly snap out of it.
3 Ways to Quickly Stop Worrying About Things You Can’t Control
1. Accept that things will happen in life that you cannot control.
Acceptance is one of the core teachings of mindfulness. We never, ever, have to like what’s happening but when we accept it then we can work with it.
The thing is, in life, there will always be something, and as much as we (and our anxiety) might like to be able to control things and prevent bad things from happening, sometimes poop happens.
Trust me. One minute everything is fine and you’re heading home from the movies. The next you’re on the neurosurgery ward at your local hospital and you’ve survived being hit by a bus.
Starting off on a journey of things that I had absolutely no control over. Which really, really sucked for me and my anxiety.
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…
I had to move back in with my parents(!!) at 31(!!) because I was so weak (and oh yeah, they had removed a portion of my skull) which was not at all what I wanted to do if I had had a choice.
Obviously, this many years later, I DO realize that MOST of my resistance to this was related to the fact that my decision maker (my brain) was swollen and injured. At the time, I fully thought that I could move back to my apartment even though I needed help to walk to the bathroom I had lost so much muscle.
(I also thought that I would be back at work in 2 weeks and that I could go to a concert 5 days after being discharged from the hospital – I was definitely not firing on all cylinders).
I needed assistance to go up and down the stairs, couldn’t bend over, or feed myself without falling asleep. So as hard as it was, I had to give up a TON of control and accept the reality of my life at that time.
And accepting the reality instead of fighting against it actually made this experience SOO much easier. Because instead of dealing with the reality of the situation AND all of my resistance to this moment I only had this moment to work with.
So much easier.
You’ve got this…
2. Focus on the things you can control, and take action on those.
Finding ways to assert control in moments where we feel like we have none can give us a sense of purpose.
It might seem small, but in moments when you can’t exert a lot of control being able to control, for example, what you eat for breakfast can take on a greater importance.
Even picking out what to wear each day – something you might normally hate – can give you back some control.
So where can you control things?
Maybe with what order you work on things in your business? What you eat for lunch? When you eat lunch? It doesn’t need to be big areas because every little moment that you feel like you have a sense of control in your life adds up.
This too shall pass…
3. Stay positive and remember that everything will work out in the end.
This too shall pass. The surgery you are waiting for will eventually happen. The project or launch you’ve got in the works will come to an end.
Right now, you have a choice. Do I want to spend the next however long until the surgery worrying about it or do I want to leave that for future Charlene and instead work with what’s here.
This moment, this one, right here in front of you is the only one that you can do anything about.
So right now make a choice. Are you going to be stuck in the future thinking and worrying about something that MIGHT (or might not) happen? Or do you want to be here and now in this moment dealing with what’s actually here in front of you.
As I am typing this post I am 9 days away from surgery #7. Am I worrying about it? No, because honestly, there will be plenty of time to worry about the surgery the day of. Also, I literally have nothing to do with the surgery other than to just show up the day of. After that it is out of my control.
The 2 arrows
In life there will always be something, some kind of pain or stress that we need to deal with. So why do we make things worse for ourselves by adding perceived problems on top of the pain we’ve already have sitting right in front of us?
Because of our negativity bias. And because it feels safer to think about all of the possible “what ifs” that can happen. Like we’re coping for the inevitable so when it shows up will be prepared.
So instead of the one problem that we have to address we’ve now created multiple additional problems that don’t even exist.
That problem that we are sitting with, whatever it is, is our first arrow. The thoughts, judgements, worries and what ifs that we dump on top of that problem is the second arrow.
One is inevitable. The other is optional.
Inside my 7-day free mindfulness meditation challenge I help you to create your own meditation toolkit for a calmer mind. In just 10 minutes a day you can learn how to calm your mind and to stop slinging that second arrow at yourself.
If you find that your worries are getting the best of you and they’re starting to take over your life, it might be worth trying one of these techniques to see if they work for you. Reply below to let me know which one you used.
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Hey there, I'm Charlene!
I help creative entrepreneurs with chronic illness create a sustainable business that fits their lifestyle without letting imposter syndrome take over.
Charlene is an entrepreneur, psychotherapist and mindfulness coach living with chronic illness after she was hit by a bus.
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