THE WORRY CYCLE: 5 WAYS TO STOP THE WHAT IFS

by | Jun 2, 2018 | Accomplishing Something, Challenge Yourself, Coaching, Mindset, Power of Being Uncomfortable

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How do you stop the worry cycle? Some people are lucky and can escape the dark trap of endlessly worrying. Others…not so much; they have the “whatifs” crawling inside their ears, whispering stories of danger, fear, doubt, failure, pain, and heartbreak. What if I fail, what if I look stupid, what if I get fired, what if I die….
Whatif by Shel Silverstein
Last night, while I lay thinking here,
Some Whatifs crawled inside my ear
And pranced and partied all night long
And sang their same old Whatif song:
Whatif I’m dumb in school?
Whatif they’ve closed the swimming pool?
Whatif I get beat up?
Whatif there’s poison in my cup?
Whatif I start to cry?
Whatif I get sick and die?
Whatif I flunk that test?
Whatif green hair grows on my chest?
Whatif nobody likes me?
Whatif a bolt of lightning strikes me?
Whatif I don’t grow tall?
Whatif my head starts getting smaller?
Whatif the fish won’t bite?
Whatif the wind tears up my kite?
Whatif they start a war?
Whatif my parents get divorced?
Whatif the bus is late?
Whatif my teeth don’t grow in straight?
Whatif I tear my pants?
Whatif I never learn to dance?
Everything seems swell, and then
The nighttime Whatifs strike again!​​
How do you stop the worry cycle? Some people are lucky and can escape the dark trap of endlessly worrying. Others…not so much; they have the “whatifs” crawling inside their ears, whispering stories of danger, fear, doubt, failure, pain, and heartbreak. What if I fail, what if I look stupid, what if I get fired, what if I die….
Whatif by Shel Silverstein
Last night, while I lay thinking here,
Some Whatifs crawled inside my ear
And pranced and partied all night long
And sang their same old Whatif song:
Whatif I’m dumb in school?
Whatif they’ve closed the swimming pool?
Whatif I get beat up?
Whatif there’s poison in my cup?
Whatif I start to cry?
Whatif I get sick and die?
Whatif I flunk that test?
Whatif green hair grows on my chest?
Whatif nobody likes me?
Whatif a bolt of lightning strikes me?
Whatif I don’t grow tall?
Whatif my head starts getting smaller?
Whatif the fish won’t bite?
Whatif the wind tears up my kite?
Whatif they start a war?
Whatif my parents get divorced?
Whatif the bus is late?
Whatif my teeth don’t grow in straight?
Whatif I tear my pants?
Whatif I never learn to dance?
Everything seems swell, and then
The nighttime Whatifs strike again!​​
How do you stop the worry cycle? Some people are lucky and can escape the dark trap of endlessly worrying. Others…not so much; they have the “whatifs” crawling inside their ears, whispering stories of danger, fear, doubt, failure, pain, and heartbreak. What if I fail, what if I look stupid, what if I get fired, what if I die….
Whatif by Shel Silverstein
Last night, while I lay thinking here,
Some Whatifs crawled inside my ear
And pranced and partied all night long
And sang their same old Whatif song:
Whatif I’m dumb in school?
Whatif they’ve closed the swimming pool?
Whatif I get beat up?
Whatif there’s poison in my cup?
Whatif I start to cry?
Whatif I get sick and die?
Whatif I flunk that test?
Whatif green hair grows on my chest?
Whatif nobody likes me?
Whatif a bolt of lightning strikes me?
Whatif I don’t grow tall?
Whatif my head starts getting smaller?
Whatif the fish won’t bite?
Whatif the wind tears up my kite?
Whatif they start a war?
Whatif my parents get divorced?
Whatif the bus is late?
Whatif my teeth don’t grow in straight?
Whatif I tear my pants?
Whatif I never learn to dance?
Everything seems swell, and then
The nighttime Whatifs strike again!​​
How do you stop the worry cycle? Some people are lucky and can escape the dark trap of endlessly worrying. Others…not so much; they have the “whatifs” crawling inside their ears, whispering stories of danger, fear, doubt, failure, pain, and heartbreak. What if I fail, what if I look stupid, what if I get fired, what if I die….
Whatif by Shel Silverstein
Last night, while I lay thinking here,
Some Whatifs crawled inside my ear
And pranced and partied all night long
And sang their same old Whatif song:
Whatif I’m dumb in school?
Whatif they’ve closed the swimming pool?
Whatif I get beat up?
Whatif there’s poison in my cup?
Whatif I start to cry?
Whatif I get sick and die?
Whatif I flunk that test?
Whatif green hair grows on my chest?
Whatif nobody likes me?
Whatif a bolt of lightning strikes me?
Whatif I don’t grow tall?
Whatif my head starts getting smaller?
Whatif the fish won’t bite?
Whatif the wind tears up my kite?
Whatif they start a war?
Whatif my parents get divorced?
Whatif the bus is late?
Whatif my teeth don’t grow in straight?
Whatif I tear my pants?
Whatif I never learn to dance?
Everything seems swell, and then
The nighttime Whatifs strike again!​​
How do you stop the worry cycle? Some people are lucky and can escape the dark trap of endlessly worrying. Others…not so much; they have the “whatifs” crawling inside their ears, whispering stories of danger, fear, doubt, failure, pain, and heartbreak. What if I fail, what if I look stupid, what if I get fired, what if I die….
Whatif by Shel Silverstein
Last night, while I lay thinking here,
Some Whatifs crawled inside my ear
And pranced and partied all night long
And sang their same old Whatif song:
Whatif I’m dumb in school?
Whatif they’ve closed the swimming pool?
Whatif I get beat up?
Whatif there’s poison in my cup?
Whatif I start to cry?
Whatif I get sick and die?
Whatif I flunk that test?
Whatif green hair grows on my chest?
Whatif nobody likes me?
Whatif a bolt of lightning strikes me?
Whatif I don’t grow tall?
Whatif my head starts getting smaller?
Whatif the fish won’t bite?
Whatif the wind tears up my kite?
Whatif they start a war?
Whatif my parents get divorced?
Whatif the bus is late?
Whatif my teeth don’t grow in straight?
Whatif I tear my pants?
Whatif I never learn to dance?
Everything seems swell, and then
The nighttime Whatifs strike again!​​

Whatif by Shel Silverstein
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We all experience the worry cycle. According to a Psychology Today article, “at least one in four Americans – about 65 million of us—will meet the criteria for an anxiety disorder at some point in our lifetime. Even those individuals whose lives are going well may worry excessively on occasion.” In our best moments, worry can take us down a spiral of fear where our minds play out dramas that leave us feeling powerless, vulnerable, and afraid. In our worst moments, worry can be paralyzing and health-diminishing. Excessive worrying can lead to poor decision-making and deter us from taking life-improving risks.

The crazy-making part of the worry cycle is that 99.9% of the time, the things we fret about never happen. Worry is a time-waster, an energy suck, a diminisher of life quality. Engaging in it rarely changes anything. Unfortunately, it’s hard to stop worrying. Good news though; there are some ways to get out of your brain-spinning story of fear and worry. Here are 5 tips:

Get some exercise

2. Challenge the Worry Cycle with Tough Questions
Put your worry into perspective by journaling about it. Write down what you are worried about and why. Then ask yourself these questions, recording the answers in your notebook.

Challenge the Worry Cycle with Tough Questions

  • Of all the things I’ve worried about, how many have come to be?
  • If this worry does come true, what’s the worst thing that could happen? What’s the best thing that could happen? What’s most likely going to happen?
  • Is this worry within my control? If it is, what can I do to help my situation? If it’s not, what can I do to reduce my fear?
  • How will I feel about this worry when I read about it in my journal tomorrow?
  • Tip: look at the answers the following day to gain perspective. If needed, continue journaling about it.
  • Of all the things I’ve worried about, how many have come to be?
  • If this worry does come true, what’s the worst thing that could happen? What’s the best thing that could happen? What’s most likely going to happen?
  • Is this worry within my control? If it is, what can I do to help my situation? If it’s not, what can I do to reduce my fear?
  • How will I feel about this worry when I read about it in my journal tomorrow?
  • Tip: look at the answers the following day to gain perspective. If needed, continue journaling about it.
  • Power Pose

    4. Talk it Out
    Talking about your worry allows you to process it while gaining perspective and insight. Ask a confidant to listen and offer advice (if appropriate). If that doesn’t work, a therapist can be a good listener and provide you with worry-management tools. If your worry is around another person’s feelings, actions, etc., go talk to the person. While initiating the conversation may be difficult, you’ll have a sense of relief when you get to the bottom of it. You may not like what you hear but at least you’ll have concrete information and/or feedback. Even better, you may find out that your worry was all for naught and you can let it go.

    Talk it Out

    Get Some Sleep

    A small amount of worry is healthy but letting it take over your life can lead to major health issues. The good news is that most of what you worry about will never come to be. For those things that do…trust yourself and your capacity to handle whatever life throws at you. You can cope with, survive, and move beyond whatever happens. Believe in yourself and you will be pleasantly surprised.

    Thank you for reading! I welcome and am grateful for your comments, likes, and shares.

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