Do you Spend Too Much Time Worrying?
There are always things that we could spend time dwelling on or worrying over.
But are you being Proactive or Reactive?
Well, if you spend a lot of time worrying, the chances are you are being reactive.
Everything you worry about in life falls into one of two categories, within your ‘Circle of Influence, Control and Concern’. The things we can control - and the things we can’t.
If you are proactive you will focus on your ‘Circle of Influence & Control’, the things you can change or do something about, or the things you can control. Such as your health, your children, or problems you may have at home or at work. You can change certain aspects of all of these things. Just as you can change your mindset, your attitude, the way you treat others, your habits…. And so on! The list is endless.
If you are reactive your focus will be on your ‘Circle of Concern’ - things that worry you, but actually you probably have very little or no control over. Such as the weather, traffic, other people’s happiness or opinions, terrorism, the future, change, or indeed a pandemic. These are all things you can’t control.
We can’t make people change. We can’t stop bad things from happening. These things are not within our power.
Well, to say you have no control over these things is not strictly true though!
It is true that you cannot change an event, something that has happened, or even something that may happen in the future. But you can change the way you think or feel about it.
I am a great believer in self-development, and I am an Emotional Wellbeing Coach, so I know that to spend time worrying about the things in life which we cannot control is wasted time and effort, leaving us feeling anxious and often negative or depressed.
One of the few, and perhaps the most important, thing you do have control over, is yourself! You can change and control how you feel.
Most of the feelings we have as adults are derived from events that have happened to us, somewhere in our past. Our feelings come directly from the emotion we attached to the event at the time. This then becomes the repeated response in any similar type of situation we may find ourselves in.
That is because our brains take the path of least resistance, reverting to ‘what we did last time’.
Our emotions are triggered by our bodyguard, our 6th sense, ‘looking out for us’ and trying to protect us against that unwanted feeling we had last time something like this happened.
I specialise in working with children and families, and I am always surprised at the reaction, when I explain to a child that they are in charge of their emotions! That they have a team of emotions and they are the Team Captain and so are in charge of their Team. Because they are the Captain, they are then able to make sure that any member of their Team doesn’t get out of control or too big for their boots. And often, the adults around them are amazed at this revelation too! I’m always surprised at how many of us don’t realise that we really can be in control. Our emotions are not something that just happen to us.
Many parents bring children with challenging behaviour to me, saying their child is angry, anxious or depressed. They may tell me that the child is naughty, doesn’t listen, even hits or kicks when in a temper or is always getting into trouble at school.
The emotions that a child feels drives their behaviour.
Emotions are there for a reason. So is behaviour. But our emotions and our behaviour are two things we can control in life. If we know that we can and when we know how. This is true for both children and adults.
Recently I was working online with a child who, I had been told, found it very difficult to control his emotions and would flare up in anger very quickly.
Using Ollie Coaching’ techniques, I explained to him how emotions work, why we need them and what to do when we feel them. Through simple stories and explanations, I helped the child realise that he could make his emotions bigger and smaller. This lad was not interested in team games, like football, so I told him that he could be the captain of his own ship, with his own ‘lookout’ and a team of emotions, or ‘superpowers’, helping him.
He began to understand, that it wasn’t him that was angry, but only a part of him, and he could also see how he could help his ‘angry’, or ‘frustrated’ feelings, to become much smaller.
Once children know that they can do this and are shown how, it is amazing what they can achieve in a really short space of time. I only had one session with this 11-year old lad. Then I had a short session with his mum, who had been listening in to what I was telling the child, and I explained how she could help him further at home.
With such simple techniques and with the follow up I knew the mum and the child would be doing, in reading the Ollie and his Superpowers books, I was pleased that he now had a good understanding of what he needs to do. And he had his mum to continue to support him whilst he practiced. What a great way to help prevent future problems for this lad - and his family. And as a bonus for me, which I really wasn’t expecting, it was a huge surprise to find that his mum had left a lovely review on my website.
Another child I worked with came to me with anxiety and was displaying symptoms similar to OCD. She looked sad and was focussing on all the things in life she couldn’t change. At 10 years old this was such a shame to witness.
But, when we started to work together, she quickly grasped the idea that she was in control of how she felt about things. After the first session she went home knowing that her emotions were there to help her and she could use them to her advantage. Straight away she started to put what she had learned into action.
The change in her over the next two sessions was remarkable. It was almost as if she had been given permission to take charge of her feelings and her life. She was happy and positive. She told me how it used to take her such a long time to get dressed and ready for school in the mornings, having to re-do things over and over again, because her body made her do it.
Then she explained that now, she was always ready, really early, because her happy and brave superpowers were helping her. Well, it was almost like magic….!
So, if you worry too much about things, take a look at what you are focussing on. Are you worrying about things you can control - or about things you can’t? Are you putting your energy into things you can influence and do something about, or are you draining your reserves, dwelling on the negative that cannot possibly do you any good or change the situation?
Firstly, work out if there is anything you can do about ‘whatever it is’ you are worried about. Determine if it is within your control or not. Ask yourself, “Is this something I can actually do something about?” If the answer is yes, then great. Decide on what you could do, write it down, draw up a plan of how and start to work towards it.
If, however it isn’t within your power or control, then maybe it is time to let go of the worry and find some ways to focus on the things in your life that will be possible for you to influence. Things that could make the worrying situation better for you or lessen the impact of the worry you have.
You may be able to just transfer your thoughts to things that are going well, but you could make even better.
Concentrate your mind on the good and the positive in your life and take your focus away from your worries. There are always positives there if you take time to find them.
And if you are looking for ways to start concentrating on the things within your circle of influence and control, then here are a few top tips:
Define each Category
Draw three circles, one inside the other on a large piece of paper, one circle in the middle, one larger around it and the largest one on the outside. Label them, Things I Can Control, in the centre circle. Things I Can Influence, in the middle circle and Things I Can’t Control, in the outer circle. Then fill the circles in with everything you think relevant.
Focus on what you can influence or control.
Do what you can to control the things within your control, then focus on the things you can influence. You can influence things and people, but you cannot force them to change. You can control your input, though not the outcome itself. Try to be a good role model. Think about how you react to things, so as others, especially if you have children, are influenced by or copy you.
Identify your Fears.
Try to work out what it is you think might happen, in the worst-case scenario, and then ask yourself “How would that really affect me and what could I do if it did?” I bet you will be much stronger and more resourceful than you thought you would be, and the problem probably won’t seem half as bad, especially if you have managed to work out a solution ….. just in case!
Work out the Real Chances of it happening.
How likely it is that this worry will actually happen? Imagine you are in Court. You are a barrister, for the defence. Write down all the reasons why you believe it might happen. Then be the opposing barrister. Write down all the counter arguments or reasons why it would not. Finally, play the Judge and decide who is right. My guess is it will be the opposing Barrister who wins. It usually is in ‘Worry Cases’!
Differentiate between Thinking and Problem Solving.
Thinking about things, worrying about events that may, or may not even happen, in the worst-case scenario, is not the same as problem solving. Worrying creates anxiety and problem solving helps to influence an outcome which in turn will put our minds at rest. So, are you thinking productively and trying to find a solution? Or are you just wasting time and effort ruminating over the problem?
Make a plan to manage Stress and Feelings.
We all have times of stress. Yes, every single one of us! But it’s how we handle it that makes all the difference as to whether we succumb to it or manage to over-ride it successfully without damage. Find a way to think about the positive things happening in your life. Decide what you will do if you do feel stressed. Make a plan and use it when the time comes. Often, just knowing you have a plan helps.
Concentrating on the things you can change really does help stop you worrying about the other stuff.
And once you know you have done everything you can, then leave it and move on. Let the outcome be what it will be, knowing that you have done your best. There is nothing more you could have done!
It’s really all about Mental and Emotional Strength and Wellbeing.
You do have the power to take back control.
And why wouldn’t you want to do that? It feels so much better!