How to stop worrying

Worry is normal to most of us.

It’s normal because your brain is wired to find things to worry about.

It’s completely not your fault that you’re worrying a lot.

But you don’t have to continue to worry so much. (I promise!)

This is a complete guide that will show you exactly how to stop worrying.

Let’s start by discussing your problems (super fun, I know).

If you want to listen instead of read, here’s the podcast episode that goes along with this post — Worry.

Your Problems Are Real

The problems you’re facing are real.

Losing a job is real.
Facing a difficult diagnoses is real.
Being served divorce papers is real.
Caring for aging parents is real.

Everything that we’ve been dealing with with the Coronavirus and staying at home is real. 

It’s important to really lean into your problems, know that they matter, and yet understand that you don’t have to worry about any of it.

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Worry Is Normal 

When you understand why worry is normal, you’ll get better control over it.

When something happens in your life, your brain is trying to understand what’s going on.

If your brain interprets a situation as something that could be dangerous, it will focus more on that to make sure that you’re okay.

Your brain just wants you to be able to survive. Your brain is trying to protect you. It’s a survival brain.

Worry is always based on something in the future. It is not focused on what is happening in the present. 

Let’s use an example. Say your daughter doesn’t make it into the school that you wanted her to go to. You can handle the information that is in front of you today. You and your daughter are okay. But yet your brain goes to work on overdrive trying to come up with all the options. Where will she go to school? Will her education be impacted forever? How will this be resolved?

You brain tries to figure out all of the possibilities and all of the negative outcomes. 

Your brain starts to think about the future and all of the “what ifs” about this circumstances. Your brain is doing this to protect you.

In doing this, you now find yourself worrying about her future, her education, and what comes next.

Your brain focuses on all of the worst things so you know what to avoid.

However, now your brain is creating a bunch of things that you can become anxious over. 

You brain understands what has happened in the past and it knows you survived the past so it wants that to keep happening. 

When something new and different happens that the brain can’t understand, it tries to relate it to something that happened already. 

Your brain hates not knowing things. 

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What “Worry” Really Is (The Real Defintion) 

The definition of “worry” is: a feeling of concern that something bad might happen. 

I absolutely love this defintion. 

According to the definition, worry is a feeling. 

And remember what I teach: all of your thoughts are the cause of your feelings. 

If this is new to you, check out these resources next:

It’s not your circumstances that are causing you all of that worry. 

This is what I teach in Grow You.

Your circumstances are causing your brain to react. The situation you are facing is cause your brain to fire off neurons that produce thoughts. 

Those thoughts are creating those feelings of worry. 

You can take a circumstance that is completely neutral, like Covid19. We all have the same circumstance in front of us, but everyone has different thoughts and feelings based on what is going on in each of our brains. 

When you realize how your brain is reacting to situations like this, you can take so much power back. 

I would personally add “in the future” to the end of that definition of worry above.

Worry is always caused by your brain thinking about what will happen in the future. Worry always relates to the future. 

Worry is a present feeling about something uncertain in the future. 

It may feel like you’re being responsible when you are worried. You may feel like you are just trying to prepare yourself for whatever happens. 

Here’s something that might blow your mind… worrying isn’t useful. 

This is a huge misconception: Thinking that worrying is useful and responsible. 

Instead, it’s actually a problem. 

Why Worrying Is A Problem

Worrying is a big problem when you don’t actually have an awareness that you’re worried. 

For example, say you’re worried about your health because you received an abnormal test result. Your brain will default to thinking this is a huge problem that is likely to end in death. Your brain will freak out and worry non-stop. This is just what brains do.

The truth is that worry won’t change your result. Ever.

Whatever happens in the future isn’t changed or made better from you worrying.

The abnormal result is the circumstance that you’re facing. You can choose how you feel about this result on purpose. Instead of doubling down on those negative feelings of worry, you can think about how grateful you are to have a doctor. You can think it was such a gift that you were even able to get that blood work done at all so you are actually aware of what is happening in your body. You can think about how you can do your best to heal and to take care of yourself.

We don’t need to judge each other for our worry, but we can instead see that we each have worried over something else and under each other.

We spend so much time worrying.
We do this without awareness.
And our results never change.

We only add to our own suffering.

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The Time I Had Enormous Worry In My Life

I’m just like the rest of you. I have a human brain. I worry about things, too.

Sometimes people will make the assumption that I don’t have any worries because I am a life coach. This isn’t the case. 

I just have tools that I use to process my worry and it helps me to worry so much less. 

When I think about worry, I think about the example of my dad passing away. I remember vividly when my dad was dying there was a ton of worries that surfaced. I thought about things like, “Was he going to die? When was he going to die? Was there a chance he could get better? Were we doing enough for him? Was he getting the best treatment?”

These are all of the thoughts I had that were concerns of mine during that time. 

Even in this very moment, thinking these things and saying them out loud brings me back to that place of worry. 

I didn’t stop worrying about my dad right away, but after the first day of being with him in the hospital, I decided on purpose who I wanted to be during that season. Instead of worrying, I decided who I wanted to be, how I wanted to show up for him at this time. I was able to focus on me, as his daughter, the only thing I had control of. I wanted to show up and be there for him 100%. I was going to commute back and forth between Cleveland and Chicago to be by his side the entire time. I was going to love him. I was going to share all of the little moments with him. I wanted to be the best daughter I could be. I experienced all of the heartbreak, sadness, grief, and lot of other emotions while my dad was passing. But I wasn’t suffering on top of all of that. 

I share this with you so you know that while worrying is oh-so-very real, it’s also an opportunity to take a step back and coach yourself or get life coaching.

We all have human brains so managing them is most important during worry.

It’s not just the more “serious” circumstances such as this that can bring about worry for us. 

Worry can be caused by smaller things as well. 

This makes sense if you understand it’s your brain doing the worrying and not the actual circumstance.

What may cause worry to use may be completely different for another person. 

You don’t have to beat yourself up over what you feel. You don’t have to compare your feelings to that of another. 

You can learn to process the emotions you are feeling and conquer those feelings. 

You can learn to process the emotion and get out in front of it.

And with that…. let’s get to my my five step process for how you can deal with those anxious thoughts.

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How To Deal With Your Worry

I came up with a 5 step method for you to learn how to stop worrying. This will help you every time worry creeps in (whether big or small).

Here’s how you can stop worrying right now…

Step 1: Call It Worry

The first step is to name the emotion. Identify that you’re “worried.

Call it out for what it is. It sounds so obvious, but sometimes we aren’t aware of the worry. It can be disguised as other things. 

Instead, when you feel those uncertain, anxious feelings, say to yourself, “this is worry.” 

Understand why you are feeling worried and you can take control of your brain. 

Step 2: Take Responsibility For Feeling Worried And Make Friends With It

The second step is to take responsibility for feeling worried, then make friends with your worry.

Let’s say your spouse decided to cheat on you. You may be worried about your marriage, your spouse, your future. You need to separate those feelings from the situation. He is responsible for his decision, but he does not cause your worry. Your brain does. You’re not responsible for his actions, but you’re responsible for your feelings.

No one is powerful enough to create emotion inside of your body and that is a great thing. This is great news my sweet friend.

Only you can cause your own suffering.

The second part of this step is to make friends with your feelings of worry. 

You can tend to judge yourself for how you feel. Instead, you can resist doing this.

I like to say, “Oh hi there worry. I see you. You’re welcome to stick around but nothing is wrong. We’ll figure this out.”

You don’t have to beat yourself up. You can be kind to yourself (imagine that!).

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Step 3: Give Yourself “Worry Time” 

The third step is to give yourself worry time.

Instead of feeling the weight of worry all the time, give yourself time to feel out that worry. 

This is such a game changer!

Set aside time, let’s say from 10am to 11am, to be worried. 

Then only worry during that time. Let yourself go crazy worrying.

Then, be done until the next day.

Step 4: Decide How To Show Up In The Future

The fourth step is to decide how you want to show up in a given circumstance that you can’t change.

Sometimes worry overcomes us in an instance. 

When I was with my dad in the hospital, I was overcome by those enormous feelings of worry instantly.

When I was able to step away and process those thoughts, I could get the clarity that I needed to know what I wanted to do next. 

I was able to process my feelings and decide I wanted to show up and be there for my dad. 

When you can process your feelings, you’re able to take control of YOU. That’s all you can ever do.

Step 5: When Your Mind Gets Away From You, Bring It Back To Today

The final step is to focus on TODAY.

Sometimes a new circumstance will present itself and your brain will naturally react with worry and focus on the future.

When this happens, bring your mind back to today.

Worry is always about the future.

When you focus on today, you can remind yourself what’s true…

You’re here.
You have enough for today.
You’re capable of figuring this out.
You always have and always will solve your problems.

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My Favorite Quotes About Worry

I’ve been studying worry a lot, and couldn’t leave this post without giving you my favorite quotes about worry.

  • “Worry pretends to be necessary but serves no useful purpose.” – Eckhart Tolle
  • “To worry oneself is a form of self-harassment …Worry is the fear we manufacture—it is not authentic. If you choose to worry about something, have at it, but do so knowing it’s a choice.” – Gavin de Becker in The Gift of Fear
  • “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” ― Corrie Ten Boom, Clippings from My Notebook

So good, right?! Love a good quote.

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A Final Note! 

Remember that worrying is normal, but there’s something you can do about it.

You can manage your mind with the right tools. Start with the five steps above, and then take it a step further by joining me in Grow You.

Up Next, watch the YouTube video…