ProdPod: Episode 21 — How to Worry Less
Worry isn’t and wasn’t always unproductive; it started as a means of human survival. If there wasn’t worrying, our ancestors wouldn’t have eaten, foraged for food or fled when hungry predators appeared! Today, though, worry is much less needed in our day-to-day lives but it still persists as a chronic, systemic problem for many trying to have a fulfilled, productive life. In this episode, and having been a worrywart myself, I’m going to give you a formula that has worked for me to worry less.
I’d like to invite everyone listening to the podcast to my new live, monthly Twitter conversation, Productivity Chat or prodchat. Please visit rsidneysmith.com/productivity/prodchat/ to learn more, and see how easy it is to join the conversation!
First: If you do worry a lot, there is probably a good reason why you began worrying often between adolescence and young adulthood. I’m not going to be able to help you much in that regard, but to say that some introspection is in order. If you find the source of your worry, you can address it and let it go.
Second: Emotions are easily swappable. So, with worry, all you need to do is use that energy to think about the problem not just about worrying. Specifically, I want you to think about what the worst thing is that could happen for whatever is the focus of your worry. Take yourself to that place momentarily and determine whether it’s that big of a deal or not. Once you’ve gotten yourself adjusted to whether triage is needed or planning; that is, it is a big deal and you need to go into immediate action to stop damage to life and limb, or, it’s possible to plan and act to reduce possible issues.
Third: If you’ve decided you can limit the catastrophe you’re worrying about, go ahead and start doing the things that you can to make the outcome better for you. I’m not trying to say that everything is always going to turn out perfectly if you actively mitigate potential problems, but why sit around and worry knowing you could have done *something* to stave or halt problems from occurring? The very act of doing instead of ruminating limits your mind’s ability to actually worry.