How to Worry About the Right Things

By Billy Burle

How often do you hear about the destructive effects of worrying? Usually, the best advice given to those that worry is to simply stop worrying and relax or as the song goes, don’t worry – be happy. Sounds easy, right? In reality, this is much harder than it sounds, especially for people who are constant worriers. However, there is a different approach that harnesses the power of worrying and uses it for good. Worrying is so powerful because when you worry about something you become hyper focused on it and when that happens the subconscious brain is working to make that thing a reality – similar to self fulfilling prophecies. I’ll give you an example. Imagine you are on the first tee of a golf course about to hit your first drive of the day. The other 3 in your foursome are watching and waiting. It’s a tight fairway with all kinds of danger off to the right – trees, water, houses, and so on. All you can think about it what if I slice this ball, what if I break a window, I hope I don’t slice the ball! Please don’t let me slice the ball!

Chances are you are going to slice that ball. Worrying about it made you focus so intently on the outcome that it happened. Now let’s try a different approach that still involves worrying. Back to the first tee with the same scenario in place. Instead of worrying about the slice worry about something else. Try worrying about what if I crush this drive right down the middle. Sounds silly to worry about that doesn’t it? However, you can worry about the expectation level you’ll set or the fact that you told your friends you don’t play that much – will they believe you now. There are all sorts of things to worry about regarding things going right. Now you are so hyper focused on a perfect drive that chances are you’ll have that perfect drive. You just manipulated worry for your own benefit as opposed to trying to fight it.

I’ll give you another example from my own personal experience in putting this idea to the test. Several years ago I joined a local Toastmasters group to help me overcome my fear of public speaking. I made it known to the group that I was deathly afraid of public speaking and believe me I was. Early on it felt like going to an AA meeting – Hi, my name is Billy and I’m afraid of speaking in public – Hi Billy. I struggled with public speaking because most of things I worried about happening during a speech usually happened which just compounded the problem. Ironically, the turning point for me was giving a speech about this very topic. My mental preparation for the speech was to focus on worrying about the right things. I worried about what if I nail the speech, what if I do so well that the group thinks I exaggerated my fears, and of course the kicker was what if I do so well that I get asked to speak more.

The time came and I gave the speech…and I in fact nailed it. For the first time in my life, I felt like I nailed a speech! From that point on I realized I can do this and I never looked back. Since then I have given countless speeches to small and large groups without any fear of failure. If the nerves set in again, I just revert back to worrying about the right things – works every time.

Worrying is powerful but if you find yourself having difficulty fighting it – don’t. Use it to your advantage by worrying about the right things.

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