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How to Turn A Worry Into A Decision
Moving Forward From Worries
Worrying can be toxic. Churning over and over an issue can lead to poor concentration, sleepless nights and eventually an apprehensive reluctance to take action for fear of making things worse.
All of us have been here or have plunged into a decision and then worries that we might have made the wrong choice led to unproductive midstream switches that took us round in circles.
A University of Surrey Study (in Clinical Pyschology Review Vol 33) defined worry as “a chain of thoughts and images that are affectively negative and relatively uncontrollable”
Taking charge of worries and turning them into positive aims will return a feeling of control and be a step towards a calmer and healthier state of mind.
Anaylse The Alternatives
Convert A Worry Into A Hope
This is an example of a process for rationalizing worries:
Try to write the worry in the form of a goal:
- What would resolve the situation?
- What do you want to achieve?
- Is it SMART? (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound).
Assess the situation honestly
- What is the situation now, how real are your fears?
- What have you tried so far?
- What have been the barriers to finding a solution?
Blitz the options:
- What ways are there to resolve this situation?
- Are there any alternatives – write them all down, no matter how far-fetched.
- Rate the practicality of each on a scale of 1 to 10.
Find a way forward:
- Do any of these seem like something you could do?
- Are you likely to meet any resistance?
- Can you identify the factors that would prevent you taking action?
How Do you Deal With Worries?
What Works Best When Worrying Threatens To Take Over?
When Normal Worrying Develops Into Anxiety
A degree of worrying is a normal part of everyday life but worries stack up or remain unresolved it is easy to feel overwhelmed and worrying escalates into anxiety. Instinctive responses trigger the 'fight or flight' reaction in our bodies. This is a natural physiological response to danger but is also triggered by anxiety and includes symptoms such as:
- an increased heart rate
- fast and shallow breathing
- tense and painful muscles
- digestive problems
Control Toxic Worrying
- Think about strategies to manage concerns when they come up.
- Give yourself a break, say to yourself: ‘I’m not going to think about this today’.
- Allot yourself a timeslot in the day, when you’re driving perhaps, or clearing up after dinner. That is the time when you think about it.
- Write something down at the end of this time, this will draw a line under it and help you to think about something else.
- Stop and relax yourself – take a deep breath through your nose and let it out slowly through your mouth, at the same time lifting and dropping your shoulders.
Analyse The Context Of The Decision
One way of double-checking this and thinking through the implications is a Forcefield Analysis. This will help to understand the related factors and potential consequences. (Lewin 1936) On the left-hand side of a piece of paper write down all the reasons for making the change and positive factors. These are the drivers.
On the right-hand side list all the issues that are hindering it and reasons that would prevent you acting. These are the resistors.
A decision may be affected by, or may impact on quite diverse factors that we may not initially consider :
- Interpersonal and relationships
- Moral and ethical concerns
- Practical and situational
- Regulations and policies
You now have the action you would like to take to resolve your worry and the issues you need to address in order to make a start with a clear conscience and a confident attitude. Addressing the restraining forces is often a more effective strategy than trying to increase the driving forces, which can have the effect of increasing the pressure and capacity for conflict and turmoil.
Prioritize by ranking restraining factors can be rated in order of their importance and influence on your decision and then you are ready to plan the first Steps.
Overshadowed By Worries
Finally, Put Worries In Their Place
Worrying doesn’t need to dominate our lives and define who we are. The sense of being gripped by something that is dragging us towards the cliff edge of anxiety and threatening to pull us over towards depression can be stopped.
Writing them down, rather than carrying them around in your mind, helps to give some distance. Analyse, reframe as best hopes and plans and then put them away in a drawer for the rest of the day. Put them in their place!