“Please welcome my friend Louise Azmi. She’s currently living in Kuala Lumpur as well and her love for writing has resulted in many fantastic articles already.
This time she’s writing a guest blog, especially for Mindnmatter Coaching. I love it… Enjoy!”
‘My life has been full of terrible misfortunes, most of which never happened’ Michel de Montaigne
If you are a worrier you probably recognise the humour of this statement, and also the underlying truth. As I discovered over many years, worry won’t guarantee a peaceful tomorrow, but it will guarantee you have no peace now. If you have ever got out of the shower stressed and short of breath because you were rehearsing an argument with someone who is not there, about something that hasn’t happened, then like me you are a worrier.
Over the years I have worried and got anxious about all manner of things. I have worried about particular problems in relationships, family, and work. I have ruminated about abstract problems like, ‘Am I a worthy person?’, ‘Am I a good enough mother?’, ‘Will I be ok?’. I have worried at work, at home, on honeymoon, on tropical beaches. The night before I had my first child I didn’t sleep all night because I was worried about a mistake I made at work. I definitely regretted that later, because I didn’t get much sleep for a long time afterwards.
Most of the time the thing I was worrying about never happened. Unfortunately, instead of applying the logic, ‘Don’t worry because it is a waste of time’, my brain did something else. My brain decided that the fact that I worried was the reason the bad thing never happened. I was subtly controlling the world with the power of my negative thinking. To stop worrying would be irresponsible. Think of all the terrible things that would happen. I didn’t worry about the American election, and look at the state of things now.
So I have always been a worrier, but I didn’t think I could do anything about it. I didn’t like it, but I just accepted it as who I am. Until it got to a stage where it took over my life. I found I was worrying constantly. Sometimes I was worrying about two totally contradictory things at the same time, ‘I should be at home more’, ‘I should be working harder’. I never felt relaxed, and I was making myself ill. I didn’t want my daughters to grow up with a worried, anxious mother, and think that was the way to approach life. I decided to get some help. Here are some of the things I learned to help me stop worrying:
1. Worry serves no useful purpose. A lot of worriers think that worrying will make them more prepared if something does go wrong. Some people think worry is a good motivator. Actually worry just exhausts you and gets you nowhere.
2. Write it down. It will help to stop it swirling around your mind. You can also start to challenge some of the negative predictions you are making. For example ask ‘How likely is it that this will happen?’, ‘How would I cope if it did?’
3. What’s the real problem? For example, are you worrying about not working hard enough, because you believe deep down you are lazy and irresponsible. Look at the deeper issues that are causing you to worry.
4. Try meditation or yoga. When things were really bad for me I felt I had no control over my thoughts at all. Practicing meditation and yoga helped me to see that I am in control.
5. You are more capable than you think you are. Consider your strengths and the resources you can draw on, and recognise that you will be able to handle whatever comes your way.
6. Most of all be kind and compassionate to yourself. A lot of people worry, and it doesn’t make you a weak person. Treat yourself kindly and do something you enjoy. Set some healthy goals, and do what it takes to achieve them.
I still have times when I worry. Habits take a long time to change. For me, using these strategies has helped me to be much more calm and happy. I can let go of the illusion of control that worrying creates, and take life as it comes. I found out that most of the time life as it comes is actually really good. I am not going to spoil it with worry.