Stress, Worries & Fears
By Donnie McKinney c 2006
Stress, caused by too much to do at any given time, and the helpless feeling from too many fears or worries are very similar. Either situation causes a feeling of a huge, black cloud that is about to smother you. It’s a scary feeling. Stress is usually caused by too many things to do and subconscious fears about the unknown potential outcomes. The way to get rid of the huge, black cloud is to identify and quantify the problems. Since they are so closely related, this discussion will cover both.
The big black cloud of fears is actually a bunch of smaller fears that have become wrapped up in some ominous, undefined, scary feeling, and are thus creating an unmanageable problem that feels like it is smothering you. The first step in eliminating the big, black cloud is to sit down and list every fear or worry that you can think of. Just brainstorm and write.
When you have written down every fear you can think of, separate them into two categories – things you can do something about, and things you have no control over.
Look, first, the list of fears or problems or worries you have no control over. Think about what the worst thing that could possibly happen might be if each fear were realized. If you would still be alive, then at least you know that fear can’t kill you. Think about that worst outcome. How would you handle it? Would you be embarrassed? Would you lose money? Would you lose a friend? Whatever it is, your life probably wouldn’t be over. Now, you’ve quantified each fear. You know that you will survive it.
If you know what the worst possible outcome might be, and you’ve determined that you could handle it, somehow, then you know that any other outcome would be less painful, and you could handle it even more easily. It’s very likely that the worst possible outcome will not occur in most cases. At any rate, fears on this list are ones you have no control over. Read the list over, again. Realize that you aren’t going to die, even if the worst possible outcome happens, and that any other outcome would be at least bearable.
Now, say out loud, “I refuse to waste any more of my time and energy worrying about those things I cannot control.” Then, stop thinking about them. If they pop into your head, again, just reaffirm that you cannot control them and you are not going to waste your valuable time and energy worrying about things you cannot control. It’s that simple. It may take some practice, though ;o)
Now, tackle the list of things you can do something about. Brainstorm ways to resolve each fear or problem. Write down the steps you need to take to fix each one. This sounds too simple, but I’m going to say it, anyway. Just start to work on the most important one. Do the tasks you’ve identified that you need to do to fix the problem. Just starting to work does wonders for your mental attitude for another reason, too - your mind cannot concentrate on but one thing at a time. When you’re busy doing something, you can’t be thinking about being afraid and confused and scared ;o)
There is no big, black cloud smothering you, anymore. Breath a sigh of relief ;o)
Stress from having too many things to do causes the same undefined black cloud feeling, but the solution is a tad simpler. To get rid of the big black cloud, brainstorm and write down a list of everything you have to do right now. When the list is finished, sort them out by deadlines. For the ones that have overlapping deadlines, sort those tasks into order of importance.
Stop for a second, and think of the reality of the statement, “This, too, shall pass.” Realize that we are all going to be faced with times in our lives where there is simply too much to do. It happens. This, too, shall pass. You will live through it. Do the best you can do, and then take it easy when the crunch is over. If you realize that you have entirely too many commitments on a regular basis, then (after getting out of the current crunch) think about what you need to eliminate from your life ;o)
Now, back to work. Think about each task. Can you extend a deadline? What if something didn’t get done at all? Would the world come to an end? Can you call in someone to help on a task? Can you delegate a task? What would happen if a task is late? Would you fail a course? Or, would you get an A- instead of an A? What if you got a B? Would you be embarrassed? So, what? You’ll live. Getting stressed out over it is a waste of time and energy.
After thinking through whatever ways you can think of to delay or eliminate any of the tasks, put the remaining things you need to do in order of importance within the time deadlines. Now, simply work on the most important thing until you finish it. Here’s where the mental adjustment comes in. You can only do the best you can do. That’s all you can do. So, don’t waste any of your valuable time or energy worrying about everything else. Especially, don’t waste time being stymied and doing nothing, simply because your brain is overwhelmed.
Just concentrate on the most important thing. When the most important thing is finished, reward yourself for a job well done, and then start on the new most important thing. You only have so much time. If you’re spending the only time you have on the most important thing, then you’re doing the best that you can do under any circumstances. That’s all you can do. Relax. Work on the list and line through the tasks as you complete them. You’ll fell a lot better as you start seeing real progress.
“This, too, shall pass.” “I’m doing all I can.” “I’m not wasting time worrying about things I can’t control.” “I’ll relax when I get through.” “I’ll know better how to avoid this situation, next time.”
If you run out of time before you get to the end of the list, say, “I did all I could.” That’s all you can do ;o
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Donnie would appreciate your input. Let him know if this article helped you. What was it missing? Would you recommend it to a friend with a similar problem?