Sometimes I get stuck in a worry loop. I lay awake at night thinking of the what-if scenarios. Sometimes I catch myself right away, but sometimes it goes on for a few days where I just keep playing all the potential bad things that could happen in my mind. Usually after a few days of my worrywart syndrome exposing itself, I finally realize the loop I am in and know I need to shift my attitude because it affects my emotional state and I end up moving way down the emotional scale. Also, 99% of the things I worry about are out of my control.
That doesn’t mean I stop caring, of course I care, otherwise I wouldn’t be worrying. It just means that I need to pay attention to how it is affecting my emotional state. Constant worry is so emotionally draining. It takes a lot of emotional energy to try and control things we cannot control. In fact, it takes so much of our emotional energy sometimes that it moves us down the emotional scale.
Q’S: How often does your worry over someone else’s emotional pain end up moving you down the scale towards doubt, or hopelessness? How often are your worries not even yours?
99% of the things we worry about are what-ifs, or trying to control the uncontrollable, like other people, or external circumstances. And that takes a significant amount of our energy, which than has an affect on our emotional state, which than affects our ability to make decisions and even problem solve. We just continue to stare at the shiny bright neon sign flashing WHAT-IF – WHAT-IF – WHAT-IF. We get caught in the loop of, what if this happens, and that happens, than that happens stories that our mind creates. If you are like me, your imagination is very vivid and creates some mad hatter madness scenarios.
“Life is what happened when all the what ifs didn’t.”Jodi Picoult
What Can You Control?
We have control over our attitude, our reactions, our responses, decisions, and actions. All of that is in your control bubble. Anything in that circle is yours, and yours alone.
Knowing what I know, will I still have worries? Yes! But I don’t have to get sucked into the loop, taking up permanent residence there, and that is what this is really about. You feel the way you feel, period. What I always say is, you feel it, so it matters. But the question we have to ask ourselves is: do I want to take up permanent residence in this feeling?
So what can you do to get out of the worry loop, to stop the cycle and choose another path? Let’s dive in!
If Your Mind Can Talk You Into It, Your Mind Can Talk You Out
The first thing I always do is talk myself out of it. I talked myself into it, so that means I can also talk myself out of it. Your mind is involved in everything that you do, so we have to tell it what we want it to do, which simply means replacing those thoughts. If your mind can lead you into it, it can lead you out.
The last time I was in my worry loop, I was worried about how COVID was going to affect my finances, I was worried about my husband and parents getting sick, I was worried about my friends feeling stressed, and I was worried about whether I was doing enough to serve. I was talking myself into mad hatter madness, so I switched around the conversation.
I said things like:
“You are doing everything you can to ensure your finances are in order and that your business and personal finances are taken care of. That is all you can do right now. You are doing everything right. You are safe.”
“Your family is doing everything they can to stay healthy and today they are safe and healthy.”
“Your friends don’t need you to go down the rabbit hole of worry, they need you to be there for them when they need you and wrap them in love. They may be experiencing emotional discomfort, but they are safe.”
“You are doing the best you can to serve your community and that is good enough. You don’t need to be everything to everyone, or even say the “perfect” thing, you just have to show up with love, kindness and compassion.”
What this does is it shifts your mind and creates new neural pathways that inform the way you react and respond when worrisome things do happen, and of course they will. So instead of trying to control the uncontrollable, we shift to what we do have control of, which is our thoughts, and our thoughts impact our emotions, and our emotions inform our decisions. Again, if your mind can talk you into, it can also talk you out.
Let Someone Else Talk You Down
The next thing that I highly encourage is to talk it out with a trusted friend. Explain what you are worrying about and allow your support system to help talk you down.
The last time I was worrying over one of my courses that I had been working on so I asked my best friend if I could run it by her. We scheduled a time to chat and we had a great conversation about it. She gave me lots of good ideas to implement, things I had not thought of, and she also validated so much of what I had created. That conversation took me from, the thoughts of I’m never going to get this done, which is doubt on the emotional scale, to I’m so pumped up to move forward and share this with everyone! Which is enthusiasm on the emotional scale. Way better feeling to work from.
Your support system is so essential, even if it is just one person.
Write Out An In My And Out Of My Control List
It wouldn’t be a blog of mine without me recommending my favourite tool, which is to write it out. And I love lists, especially when I get to cross it off as complete in bright red ink.
On the top of the page create two headers: In My Control and Out of My Control
In each category, write down all the things you are worried about, all the what-if scenarios running through your mind and put them in their proper category.
On all the list of all the things that are in your control, make of list of what you can do to baby step your way towards a solution, new perspective, attitude shift, reactions, response, action or decision that can take you out of the worry loop and into a solution based mindset. This is such a great tool because it reminds you of what you can actually do, increases your confidence, and strengthens your problem solving muscles. It makes it really difficult for worry to grow from this mental and emotional state.
On the other list, Out of My Control, remind yourself that you cannot control external circumstances, or what other people do or say, but you can control your inner world, your actions, your reactions, your responses, your decisions and your attitude. If we want to be in the driver’s seat of our life, sometimes we have to ask ourselves, “Whose lane am I in?” If it isn’t ourselves, we simply work at coming back into our own lane.
To wrap up, I just want to say that worrying over people you love isn’t bad. You are always going to have worries. But what we want to watch out for is the emotional toll that it is having on us. Are you taking up permanent residence in a place where all you have is worry and get so stuck in the “problem” that you cannot see a way out?
So go ahead and worry, but comes back to your own lane and ask yourself, “In this situation, what do I actually have control over?” It is from this place where we make space for solutions to come in. It is from this place that we go from hopelessness to optimistic.