“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.”
- Reinhold Niebuhr -
Worries. One of the main topics that concerns people and yet it seems not to be given enough importance. About one out of four suffers from depressive conditions. Burnout, mental breakdowns, anxiety, depression etc. you'll find news about it everywhere. The number of mental illnesses has increased drastically. In Europe about 27% of the population is affected.
The number of affected persons is constantly increasing and in most cases this is due to pressure, fears, stress and worries. This also means that most people could probably heal themselves if they knew how to deal with their worries and anxieties. Alexis Carres, a French doctor, said once:
"If you don't know how to fight fear and anxiety, you'll die early".
He is not completely wrong about that. Worries, anxiety or stress cause high blood pressure, heart diseases, exhaustion, headaches, stomach problems, stomach ulcers and insomnia, just to name a few symptoms. People should keep in mind that if they are worried permanently, they won't face only psychological but also physical problems.
There are people who think about their problems so much, they become pale. They should simply avoid concentrating on their worries. Easier said than done. On the other hand, everyone will say, "My problems and worries are personal and individual. You can't solve every problem right away". There's something true about it. Every problem requires its own approach and some problems cannot be solved at all.
So I can't help you to solve your individual problem. But I can show you HOW to deal with your fears and worries and what is the best approach, so can do it. At this point I would like to present Dale Carnegie's book - How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. If you haven't read it yet, read it! This book was published in 1948 and is still up to date. And why?
Because human nature doesn't change. The worries change, the technique, even the intelligence of the people, but not their nature. And this book had led me to write this article. It is not esoteric, but written practically and it follows a pragmatic approach on how to deal with worries and fears. It has helped me immensely, because some time ago I was a person who worried about everything and everyone all the time. Let me tell you:
My whole life looked like this: "I'm afraid of dying; I don't have enough money; what should I do for a living; will I get my degree, but I don't learn enough for it; I'm fat; I'm just too lazy and undisciplined; do people like me; even the bad weather caused me problems".
These were not only everyday thoughts, but really permanent ones. I thought and thought, and everything felt like a huge bag full of stones that was weighing on my shoulders and pulling me down. You can imagine what my mood was like. Sometimes good, if I was along with friends and then again worse or melancholic when I was alone at home and had time to overthink everything. I was simply overwhelmed by this amount of worries.
My "problems" accumulated and I was just unhappy with myself. My problems were actually only half as bad, but I just couldn't change anything in my life and that bothered me the most. Without exaggerating, from my point of view it felt really bad back then, I just wanted to give up. I had headaches and no desire to continue my life as it was at that time. A change needed to be made. I wanted to change something instead of just running away.
Great decision, but how do I deal with these worries, was the question that bothered me. So I just started. I started meditating, reading a lot of books and articles about relaxing or how to get rid of worries & fears. Among others the mentioned book by Dale Carnegie. Only after I dealt directly with my problems it became better. And as time went by everything really got better. I tried a lot and didn't stop.
Of course I can't say that I'm 100% worry free, but I did a 180° turn. If you feel the same way or if you are simply troubled by small worries, the following 8 steps can help you immensely. These are simple rules to follow. But always sticking to them is the real difficulty here. Try it! It has helped me, it will help you. I guarantee it!
The first 3 points alone should be enough to reduce your worries. You should always remember these rules. So it's good to write them down. Read them once a week or best once a day. It makes little sense to just read through them and not to think about how they might affect your problems. Stay consistent and focus consciously on every step. Here we go!
1. Specify your problems
What exactly is your problem? What are you worried about? Why do these thoughts buzz around in your head again and again? Good question, you might say, if only it would be so easy to answer it. But this is exactly what you have to do. Look completely objectively at your problem and ask yourself the following questions:
- What am I worried about?
- What is the source of this problem?
- What are the possible solutions?
- When do I apply this solution?
It is so simple and yet extremely effective. You will achieve the greatest success if you write down these questions and think about how to answer them. If you read the problem, its origin, the solutions and the date when you will apply your solution on a sheet of paper or in a text file on your computer, it makes your problem appear in a completely different light and you can look at it objectively.
No matter how serious or simple your worries are. Try it. Here is an example:
What am I worried about? - That I could have a heart problem
What is the source? - Constant chest pain
What possible solutions are there? - Visit a doctor / cardiologist
When do I apply this solution? - Make an appointment today
Let's pretend the person in this example really has a cardiac problem, then that's a new concern. It will be dealt in exactly the same way:
What am I worried about? - That my heart condition will become chronic
What is the source? - Diagnosis of the doctors
What are the possible solutions? - Various therapy options
When do I apply this solution? - I'll start the following therapy on ....(date)...
2. Expect the worst
Imagine what is the worst that could happen and accept it. Then try to prevent the worst from actually happening. That is the whole rule. This one helped me a lot. I was very worried about my job back then. But then I thought to myself:
What is the worst that could happen? - I lose my job. Ok, how do I deal with it? Well, I have a little money saved to live on until I'd find a new one. When the going gets tough, I'd quickly find a simple job to at least cover most of my expenses until I find something more appropriate.
Of course I tried hard not to get that far, but I was much more relieved when I knew what I might face in the worst case. So why think continuously: Oh no my job this and my job that. In most cases the worst case scenario doesn't come anyway. That's simple probability calculation. How likely is it that the worst will happen? This quote from Arthur Schopenhauer is just right:
"Expect the worst, but hope for the best."
3. Accept the past
Dale Carnegie wrote it so beautifully and yet so simple in his book: "Don't cry over spilled milk!" And so it is. What has happened has happened and has passed, over and out. There is no way to change that, no matter how much you get upset or worry about it. Accept this and force yourself not to waste your thoughts on it. If something didn't go the way you wanted it to, analyze the problem and solve it as described in the first step.
4. Face your problems
This is the most difficult part of all, because too few people face their fears or problems. Even if you have defined your worries as described in step 1 and have written down one or more solutions, it doesn't mean that you will apply them. At this point I cannot do more than give you a little push. Most people know their weaknesses and worries very well. To face them requires true greatness and courage. Be courageous!
It's your life, and you probably just have one. If you don't do it for yourself now, there won't be a second chance. We only have a limited time here on earth and we don't do anyone a favor if we don't enjoy things or hold ourselves back. If you are afraid to go to the doctor because he could tell you about a bad result, the worries will eat you up because you have no certainty, so make the appointment. If you are worried about your unhealthy lifestyle, change your habits. Everything is possible. Analyse your problem objectively and approach the solution.
5. Split your life into days
This step partly contains aspects of step 3. Don't worry so much about the past, but don't worry about the future either. Live your present day. Live in the now, live today! So what can you achieve today? What do you need to do today to reach your goals? Yesterday is over and tomorrow can only be influenced by today's action. If you explicitly live this day and concentrate on it, you will worry less about everything else in the distance.
It helps you immensely to make a plan (even just in your mind) in the evening for the coming day or morning. For example, it should contain things like: Things to do, things not to forget, appointments, food, things you want to learn, workout etc.. Go through your coming day, so you can get along easier and know better what to expect. And now one of the most beautiful and most fitting quotes:
"The clock is running. Make the most of today. Time waits for no man.
Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift.
That's why it is called the present.”
- Alice Morse Earle -
6. Get out of your head
Free your mind. This is especially important for people who do not stop overthinking. Really stop it. Don't take everything to your heart. This is not good for your health and you do not solve your problems. Forbid yourself from filling your head with worries and bullshit. Put your problems on a piece of paper and solve them. A good support would be to write all your appointments and things you have to do in your calendar immediately. So you don't have to worry about forgetting anything. Occupational therapy is also a good option.
Concentrate on something like sport, a hobby or your friends/family and fill your head with it, then you cannot think of worries and problems. If you don't have time to worry, then of course you can't worry. It's not that the problems aren't there, but you don't help yourself to think about them all the time. Occupation helps you. That means your job and/or a physical activity, an intensive hobby will help you. If you take care of other people, it will alleviate your grief.
It helps tremendously to make other people happy. Try to make someone happy at least once a day. Do not expect thanks, but do it for yourself. That's an incredibly good feeling. It doesn't matter if you know the person for years or if it is a stranger. It is not about a huge gift, but only about an thoughtful gesture, a friendly comment, a compliment.
Read more about this "Less Thinking = Less Stress + More Success"
But what will help you a lot to clear your head is meditation. More about that in the next step.
There are endless positive aspects which meditation has to offer. It helps you to organize your thoughts, manifest your goals and relieve your body and mind from stress and tension. Best applied in the morning directly after getting up, you can prepare yourself perfectly for the day with all its challenges. Especially meditation is misunderstood by many people. We are not taking the esoteric or buddhist path here, we are actually just taking the positive effects of meditation without all that around. And especially for very restless people or those who are thinking too much, it helps immensely.
In the article "How to Meditate" you will find more about it, if you are interested. Try it every day. The easiest way is to sit on your bed and meditate right after getting up. This also relieves a lot of tiredness in the morning. It doesn't take long either. Usually you are through after 5-10 minutes. It should by no means be a torture, instead you should enjoy it. Do it as long as you feel for it. Below is a short instruction to relax the mind:
Sit cross-legged, fold your hands on your lap, keep your back straight without leaning and close your eyes.
Go through your body in your mind and relax every muscle that is still tense. Very often the mouth or jaw muscle. Let everything become relaxed and
Now you concentrate on your breathing. Breathe in and out calmly and evenly through your nose. Feel how the air flows through your nose into your lungs
and back. Try to keep this state for about 5 minutes.
Just let your thoughts come and go. Even if you are immersed in a thought, always return to your breathing routine.
If you have persevered in this phase a little and feel relaxed, you can now go through your to-do-list for the day. What do you have to do, what
shouldn't you forget? What do you want to achieve?
When you are finished, stand up and look in the mirror and smile or laugh at yourself. Look yourself deep in the eye.
- You can't start the day better than that. Have fun!
8. Boost your self-esteem
This is obvious, isn't it? If you have problems with yourself, then of course you are troubled. Probably some of your problems are exactly the reason why you worry. If you are standing in your own way or consider yourself weak or even worthless, then it's obvious that your life is not free of worries. Let's change that. How to speak to yourself positively and increase your self-esteem is described here:
So? Are you a little disappointed because the eight rules were so simple? Did you expect anything more spectacular? Believe me, we already know everything or most of it. Only to apply it, is the problem. And we can do that by remembering a few things and trying to put them into practice. Here once again the 8 points summarized, so that you can note them down. Put them somewhere where you can see them very often. On a Post-It on your mirror, maybe.
- Specify your problems
- Expect the worst
- Accept the past
- Face your problems
- Split your life into days
- Get out of your head
- Boost your self-esteem
With these 8 steps, you won't be freed from all your worries overnight. But it's a very good help and like everything in this blog I have tested it. It worked for me and for many I know. I hope for you, too.
I hope the article was helpful for you. If so, then share it, so others like you can also benefit from it. I wish YOU the best.
- LdR -