Firstly, there is no magical quick fix to stop you worrying.
I say there is no magical fix to make you feel better, not to make you feel worse.
The reason I say this, is because many people think they are alone in worrying about things. So let me reassure you: YOU’RE NOT ALONE.
However, it’s how you deal with the worry that counts.
I’ve noticed there are definitely people who respond better to worry than others. Me being one of them now.
I’m not perfect, but I’ve definitely come on along way from how I was a few years ago and I’ve come up with a really good exercise that helps me when a worry starts to arise and I would like to share it with you now:
The Worry Matrix.
The Worry Matrix is super easy and effective to follow and and it works in 3 easy steps.
All you need to do is work through the below:
Step 1 – Observe
Don’t ignore your feelings of worry. Ask yourself:
“What exactly am I worried about?”
Face the worry, eye to eye and establish exactly what your worried about.
Break it down.
Step 2 – Power Analysis
Now decide which of the three below your worry sits in:
- You have direct power over the worry. For example: passing an exam.
- You have some leverage over the worry, but not in full control. For example: worrying about your child taking exams.
- There is absolutely nothing you can do about the situation your worrying about and need to move on. For example: you’ve taken the exam and are now worried about if you’ve passed.
Step 3 – Power Leverage or Move on.
So fit your worry into one of the three categories and then decide on the appropriate course of action.
POWER – If you have direct control over what’s worrying you then take a step / steps to do something about it. If you find it overwhelming think of baby steps or ask someone to help you. So in my example above, if you’re worried about passing your exams, one of the first steps you can take is to devise a revision timetable. Next step is to ensure you’ve got all your revision material. Next step is hire a tutor to help you etc. etc. etc and so on.
LEVERAGE – This is where you have an element of control over the worrying situation, although it’s limited. So in my example above, if you’re worried about your child taking exams for example think of the steps you can take to help her achieve exam success? Step 1 could be to take her out for lunch to let her know you’re here for her and ask her how can you help? Step 2 could be to come up with a suitable revision incentive. Step 3 is to book a few treats mid revision time to allow her to relax. The key here is to try and do all you can reasonably do to help with the situation and then you have to move on and let it go (see below).
MOVE ON – This is where you have zero control over what you’re worrying about. In the example above, you’ve taken an exam and now you’re worrying day and night if you’ve passed. There is only one solution to this and it involves discipline: controlling your mind gremlins. The naughty gremlins in your head will keep reminding you of this this worry and there is nothing you can really do about this, except, when the worry does pop up, acknowledge it, acknowledge to yourself there is nothing you can do about the worry, it’s out of your hands and then focus on something else. Purposely, consciously, artificially, whatever you want to call it, say out loud to these thoughts “bugger off” or do something to distract yourself. Whatever you do, do not allow yourself to dwell. I appreciate it’s easier said than done, but trust me, with discipline it does work. Your worries will keep rising up, but as soon as they do, quash them. I can assure you over time they will become less frequent and less frequent. I appreciate this advice may be controversial because I’m advising you to ignore the worry rather than work through it, but there is a simple reason for this: there is absolutely nothing you can do about it, so don’t give the worry anymore oxygen to breathe. Starve it.
And that’s it.
Told you it was super easy.
Every time a worry arises, simply run through the above and in no time at all I can assure you, you will feel better.
ANXIETY V WORRY
The Worry Matrix exercise only works if your suffering from worrying, it’s not appropriate for someone who is suffering from anxiety. Anxiety needs to be properly treated by an appropriate professional.
The big difference between anxiety and worry is the frequency and severity of how your feeling. If you’re finding yourself constantly worrying about something (or different things), as in it’s a daily occurrence, then you need to go and seek appropriate help because it likely you’re suffering from anxiety and will need the appropriate professional support.
Anxiety can be debilitating if not treated.
I will leave you with:
“when I look back on worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which never happened.” – Winston Churchill
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