I was walking around Newtown yesterday and saw the sign to the left on display in one of the cafes near the railway station. It caught my attention, and I thought I would share! Worrying is one of the things we often do without thinking, even though sometimes we wouldn't consider it to be worrying. We might call it, being lost in thought, replaying an argument, having a conversation in our head that hasn't happened yet, or just thinking about the worst case scenario.
As we have talked about before, there are often good reasons why our brains work the way they do. Think about the cave people that came before us, they had to think about the worst case scenario. If they didn't they would be eaten! They developed strategies to help them manage this, you can read about it more here.
Sometimes worrying about something can feel quite helpful, and will give a sense that things are more in control than what they really are. Often what happens though is that we spend tonnes of time thinking through a scenario, all of the possible outcomes and ways that it might go wrong, with no actual control over the outcome. For instance, if you have a fight with someone that you care about, you may spend hours and hours thinking over what you each said, how it was left, and even how you feel. Perhaps you try and call them and they don't respond. So you might get more and more anxious, which will make you think over the details more and more. After all of this, you are probably more anxious and worried than you were just after the argument, and I suspect that nothing will have changed. Ultimately, the outcome is dependent on you and the person you had the argument with, so you can spend all day thinking about it, but you have no control at all over what happens next.
I am not suggesting that you don't worry at all. Its not likely to happen. Worries will pop into your head hundreds of times a day, and sometimes you might not even notice them. If you try not to worry, they will come anyway, and probably more than they had before. Instead, perhaps a more helpful way of managing them is to be ok with them being there. You don't have to like them, you don't have to challenge them, but just notice them. Sometimes they might be loud, sometimes soft. Sometimes they will speed up or slow down, and at 3am they may be scary. When they come, notice that they are worries, and just let them be.
What do you think might happen?
Next week, we are going to talk more about watching and noticing your worries, and the ways that you can manage them.
Back to work, university, school etc and the holidays I wrote about a couple of weeks ago are now a distant memory. Everyone seems to be back in working mode, and trying to soak up as much of the summer as they can before it becomes dark at 5pm, and we all embark on winter hibernation. This time of year is always interesting for me, and I often see my clients becoming quite concerned and despondent about what they are going to achieve for the year ahead, and how they can make the most of their time. Unfortunatley, for many people, these thoughts become completely overwhelming, and find themselves paralysed by what they feel like they need to do.
Feeling overwhelmed is a powerful space, and often prevents people doing anything at all. Procrastination is the good friend of being overwhelmed, and often without awareness people can get stuck in a cycle of procrastination and difficulty regaining momentum. I don't have a cure for procrastination. I wish I did. Instead, my approach tends to be to help people manage smaller tasks, and help them kick start their momentum rather than fixing the procrastinating. The smaller and more manageable the tasks feel is directly related to how often they are completed. This is particularly relevant when I am seeing clients around the management of school or university tasks, when looking at the idea of completing a full assignment is completely overwhelming, but doing the introduction, or writing 200 words is quite achievable.
My tips for when you find yourself procrastinating about something....
1. Feel like you have a sense of the problem. For instance, using our above example, what does the question ask? What resources do you need?
2. Using the things you identify above, how can you break these into smaller steps? If you need to get some books, do you need to go to the library, log onto google, or can you use a textbook. If you are working on an essay, what are the parts of the essay?
3. Write yourself a plan with logical small steps. For instance, step 1 is to write the question out. Step 2 is to go to the local library and get the book. Step 3 is to read the appropriate chapter etc.
4. Set time frames for these and make them manageable and yourself accountable for them. If your essay is due in 3 weeks, start it now!
5. GET STARTED!!!!!
I can imagine that when you looked at these steps you probably thought "they are so small". That's the plan, If something is too big, your procrastination will kick in, and it will feel too overwhelming.
I would love to hear your tips of how you use these strategies, or ones of your own!