HOW TO STOP WORRYING WHEN IT'S ALL TURNING TO CUSTARD (May 18, 2020)
What if you or a loved one got Covid-19? What if you get made redundant because of the lockdown fallout? What if you end up bankrupt? What if you lose your house? What if you can’t ever get another job and end up in the line at WINZ?
Worry is a self-actualising prophecy.
It’s also like riding a bicycle. If you look at the pothole in the road, you automatically steer towards that pothole. So as natural as worrying might be, you need to deal with it every time it rears its ugly head.
Remember that old saying that ‘worry will be the death of me’? Research by Annelieke M. Roest, MSc, of Tilburg University in the Netherlands, using data from 20 studies on nearly 250,000 people, found that worry is associated with a 26% increases risk of coronary heart disease and a 48% risk of heart-related death.
It’s no wonder disease sounds like dis-ease.
Perhaps one of the most significant crimes that worry is responsible for is that it takes the joy out of the present. The reality is that there is no yesterday and there is no tomorrow (except in your head). There is only today, and once it’s gone, it’s gone. So, put aside worry and start celebrating the present for what it is — a precious gift.
Celebrate the present is easier said than done because worry is a normal part of life — it will come around as surely as the sun rises — but there are ways to confront it, deal with and move on before it sucks your energy, your peace and your life right out of you.
All Blacks captain and rugby great, Richie McCaw, commenting on worry and failure around the 2007 Rugby World Cup recalls that he would tell himself ‘Gosh, this isn’t helpful…’ as a way of snapping out of the worry and brooding cycle. Stopping the worry dead in its tracks with a trigger phrase or affirmation is one technique, but it’s a difficult one to maintain.
Here’s a method proposed by Dale Carnegie that is a bit more work, but more natural to practise and useful for dealing with worry:
- Make peace with the worst-case scenario
As yourself, what is the worst thing that could happen?
And if ‘the worst thing did come to pass’, what would that look like? For example, if you lost everything, what would the first morning after look like?
Imagine your worst fears coming to light and accept it. “Yes, I could lose everything, but I accept that, and I’m going to stop fearing it because the sun will still rise tomorrow.”
This is how you laugh in the face of your fears.
- Analyse the problem
When you have made peace with a potential worst-case scenario, gather the facts on 1. How can you avoid the worst-case scenario and 2. if the worst thing happened what will the process look like, what options are available and what could you do to rise from the ashes?
Knowledge equals confidence; take strength from it.
- Crisis planning
You have made peace with the worst-case scenario. You understand that it is at best unrealistic and unlikely to happen, but you are at peace with it knowing the sun will still come up tomorrow. Now put together your plans — have two or three plans up your sleeve:
Plan A: This one offers a way out of your current predicament.
Plan B: This is the one that helps you to salvage as much of the situation as you can.
Plan C: The plan you will implement if the ‘worst thing’ eventuates.
None of these plans needs to take long. A few notes on a piece of paper to articulate what’s in your head, and off you go.
These three steps can apply to most of the things that worry us, particularly around finances, work and business. Practise them regularly and put worry behind you.