6 Ways to Ease Your Worried Mind
I asked all the right questions. I knew the risks of the surgery. I was comfortable in my choice to go ahead with it. So, why was I still feeling so anxious? I was suffering from a bad case of “What-if'“‘s.
What if my vocal cords become irreparably damaged while removing the tumor? What if I can't coach my clients? What if I can’t present workshops? What if I can’t sing in the shower? What if the scar on my neck is Frankenstein-esque?
Everyone worries. We worry about our children, our parents, our future, how we'll pay for college, our health - the list goes on. Worry causes mental, emotional, and even physical pain and adversely impacts our actions and interactions.
Have you ever walked into a room and felt a buzz of excitement? Or felt a room full of anger, fear or sorrow? Humans feel and are affected by each other’s energy. The last thing I wanted was for my surgeon to feel my angst as she wielded her scalpel on my neck.
In my years as a life coach, I’ve learned a thing or two about the causes of emotional suffering. Knowing I’m better equipped to handle anything life delivers when I come at it from a place of peace instead of worry, and that in the absence of emotional pain, I always think more clearly, I set out to find a way to be serious and practical about the future without the suffering.
I incorporated the following six strategies to ease my angst and move into a more positive vibration. And I have no doubt that the grounded, peaceful state in which I entered the hospital and greeted my surgeon led to a positive surgical experience and easy recovery.
#1. Become a Thought Sleuth
Worry stems not from the situations you face, but from the thoughts and beliefs you attach to those situations. And happiness comes not when you let go of those painful thoughts, but when they let go of you.
In the midst of so many things that are beyond your control, the good news is that your thoughts and beliefs are wholly within your jurisdiction. Of course, if it were so easy to liberate yourself from these harmful thoughts, you would have done it long ago.
Although there are many strategies to move you toward the ultimate goal of an aligned, joyful life, I know of no greater tool than that of inspecting your thoughts and beliefs. Unraveling anxiety requires questioning the validity of the thoughts behind it.
The first thing I did was to ask myself whether I can know, for absolute certainty, that these things will become true. Further, if I can predict the future so well, why aren't I at the lottery counter buying the winning ticket to Friday's MegaMillions jackpot right now? In actuality, I cannot predict the future. I cannot know for certain that any of my worries will come to fruition. In fact, I'm worrying over things that haven't actually happened. Now I feel silly.
#2. Stay Right Here, Right Now
Fear of the unknown is almost always worse than what actually happens. I remind myself that I've dealt with everything life has thrown me so far, and the reality is that I am safe in my home at this very moment. I can step away from worrying about the “what-ifs” when I ask myself, "Do I have everything I need in this moment?" The key is to stay in this moment because that's all there really ever is. Life is a series of moments and you only ever have to get through each one. I can't attend to or enjoy this moment when my thoughts are muddled in future “what-if” worries.
#3. Draft a Plan
But WHAT IF?!!! If you’re having trouble staying in this moment, another way to quell your anxiety is to make a plan for the worst. This isn't hard. It isn't pessimistic. It's an effective method to put your mind at rest because when you have a plan - even a sketchy plan, you feel better prepared.
Linda’s Plan: If my vocal cords get damaged during the surgery, I will offer e-mail coaching. I will compile my wisdom into a book. I’ll create video coaching products with subtitles. I will put more attention into practicing the magic of non-verbal communication skills.
#4. Let Go
You can only control things about you. Freeing yourself of the illusion that you have any control whatsoever over others’ thoughts or actions is a powerful life changing strategy. By letting go of things I can't control, I lower my stress level and allow my body to heal faster. To this end, not only did I defer all motherly responsibilities for my children to my sister while I recuperated, but I really let it all go.
#5. Find the Gift
For each adverse outcome you worry about, ask yourself, "What would the gift be in that?" For instance, if I lose the ability to speak above a whisper, my kids will have to be quieter to hear me, and that will make our household more peaceful. Using nonverbal communication strategies to converse will help us to better understand and connect with each other.
#6. Draw from Your Inner Wisdom
Your beliefs are shaped by external interactions, but your inner wisdom knows the truth. Frankenstein-esque scar or otherwise, my inner wisdom knows, that beauty shines from within and no scar, physical or otherwise could ever diminish that light.
“Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its trouble, it empties today of its strength.” ~ Corrie Ten Boom
There are still times when I fall into old patterns of apprehension, but I remind myself that worries are nothing more than thoughts and beliefs about things that haven’t actually happened. When I release those stories from my mind, I make room for peace with what is, and positive anticipation of what’s next.