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Is worrying just a bad habit?

12 months ago | Lesley Calland

‘Oh you know me, I worry about everything’ she said. 

‘That must be very restricting’ I replied. Over time, I have learnt the following 

‘Worrying about something doesn’t fix it! In fact, it usually makes it a whole lot worse.’

You may spend hours, maybe days mulling over and analysing all the things that could go wrong, or feeling bruised because someone said what they did, or feeling anxious about not getting your work done to the standard expected. 

Worrying stops you from moving forward, it stops you from taking action. This blockage makes you dependant on others to help you sort things out, because you can’t get your head around how to. 

Time spent thinking in this way consumes your ability to problem solve, to learn, to look at how to make progress with the team. 

So, is worrying actually a convenient habit that stops you from taking responsibility?  

The definition of a habit is ‘a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up’. Things are usually hard to give up because change is required to improve the situation. 

Worrying seems to be an accepted way of saying it’s ok for me to not do anything as I am not sure about it. 

However, being honest, your team would much rather you commit to stopping worrying and taking decisive action to sort out or move on from the issue. People rarely listen to the negative what ifs, as they don’t want pulling back. By all means bring areas of concern or risk to the table, but operating in the same manner of certainty as them with joined up forward thinking and encouraging energy levels, leads to much stronger performance all-round. 

Why am I saying this? Through coaching, I know that if you are worried at work the people around you will be affected too..  

  • They sense that you are not confident about what is happening, so they start to self-doubt their own judgement.
  • They will feel as though they have to waste time correcting your thinking first before moving forward with theirs. 
  • Your worry will manifest itself in your body language, your energy levels will be very low or very high, both difficult for others to work with.  
  • Concerned about the fact you are worrying may make them feel anxious or guilty too that they are responsible for causing that worry. 

So, if this has caught a nerve, what are you going to do about it? Please, please, please don’t spend hours now worrying about how to stop worrying! 

  • Focus your time on how to spot when this is getting the better of you. 
  • Be more conscious of what affects you the most and change it.
  • Ask questions rather than making assumptions.
  • If you don’t know how to do something, seek training.
  • If someone said something out of turn, reflect on that feedback to improve what you are doing. 

In fact, try removing the word worrying out of your vocabulary all together and use phrases like

  • Something is on your mind that we need to cover
  • I am thinking we could do this better
  • I am reflecting on what will work best

Ultimately, what I am saying here is take responsibility for shifting your habits, the language that you use and your mindset to improve your own level of workplace happiness. 

Can you Imagine spending two hours researching and reflecting on what you could influence to work better, instead of dwelling on what’s not working at all? Not only will you feel better, but everyone else around you will thank you too. 

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