Here are some of the ways I personally deal with worry.
Engage the task.
This is my mantra these days. I have so many projects and challenges ahead of me, with high stakes and real risks. I could easily get sucked into worrying about the possibly negative outcomes; I often do get sucked into that.
When I notice it, though, often the best thing is to simply engage the task. Not avoid it. Not think about it. Not plan for it. But engage it. Take a step. No matter how small. Better yet, take a big step. Rip off the band aid.
Accepting what we cannot change is so famous a concept it’s become cliche, but it is so for a reason. Think about how this may apply to your situation.
Important note: Accepting that the worry is there and that it makes sense, that it is understandable, and that it is okay to have the worry, is such a powerful step. It often helps us to move past that worry and the desire to avoid the worry. When that fearful part of us doesn’t feel heard it often screams louder, and the louder it screams, the more drastic the steps we have to take to drown it out.
Next: Picture positive outcomes.
If you’re already using your imagination to think up scenarios that could unfold, why not think up positive ones? Well, even though I’m asking rhetorically, there are scientific reasons why your mind automatically goes to the negative. Simply put, it’s trying to protect you from the worst outcomes. So much so that you feel unprepared when you don’t think about those outcomes. But that doesn’t mean those scenarios are more likely. Look, if there’s something you can do to optimize your chances, circle back to engaging the task. And then get back down here and envision a positive outcome.
I’ve worried about a ton of things, truly. Some of the things I’ve worried about have come to fruition. Bad things. And they have been easier to deal with in reality than in my head. (And some things I haven’t worried about happened, and they were bad too, but no worse than if I had “prepared myself” by worrying about them before. Worrying doesn’t actually prepare you, unless there’s something you can do, and take action on it.)
I have never regretted not worrying about something bad that ended up happening, taking me by surprise. Have you?
In most situations I can think of, the bad outcome was bad, yes, but not as debilitating as I had feared, because I was there, living it, and there were things I could do. Even if all I could do was just accept the present moment and feel my way through it until I made it to the other side. I have come to the conclusion that I could have saved myself some serious suffering if I had just engaged with the present reality of what was happening rather than worrying. And if I was going to imagine an outcome, I could have spent my time more leisurely by dreaming of the better possibilities, many of which did come true!
Cope ahead. This may seem like it contradicts the above tip, but it works if you balance them out and try each for a few minutes at a time. The tip is to think about how you would deal with the worst case scenario. Say that horrible thing you’re afraid of happens. Think about it for a second- imagine it happening, and imagine how you would cope. Because you would cope. Think of things you could do or how you could deal with a negative outcome.
Last, and this has been huge: I started think of myself as a warrior. A super hero. Someone with the power to deal with what comes their way.
You are a warrior, too. I know you are. You’re reading this and looking for ways to help yourself get out of a pit. And the best part is, it’s working.