How to stop worrying and deal with stress?

The title of this entry can sound not very seriously for some people, but it is the seriousness of this subject that doesn’t let people function normally. I wouldn’t limit it only to worrying – it leads to stress which probably most of people encounter every day. I don’t know an entrepreneur who wouldn’t worry about what is yet to come either all the time or at some stage of the business development. Some people  claim that over half of hospital beds are occupied by people with neurological or mental disorders, even if the direct symptom is somatopathy. They  are usually a result of accumulated problems and concerns about the future. Dr Alexis Carrel, a Nobel Prize winner, once said:

Businessmen who do not know how to fight with worry die young.

Lots of quotes in this entry were found in a book „How to Stop Worrying and Start Living“ written by Dale Carnegie. The book has been sold in millions of copies all over the world, so it’s most likely a common problem.

In his book, Dale Carnegie writes that during his holidays in Texas and New Mexico he was travelling with doctor O.F. Gober, a chief physician of the Gulf, Colorado, and Santa Fe Hospital Association. He then said that :

Seventy percent of all patients who come to physicians for advice could give up the appointment if they only got rid of their fears and worries. Don’t think  that their illnesses are imaginary. Their diseases are as real as a throbbing toothache and sometimes a hundred times more serious. I refer to such ilnesses as nervous indigestion, some stomach ulcers, heart problems, insomnia, some headaches, and paralysis. These ilnesses are undoubtedly  real. I know what I am talking about, because I suffered from a stomach ulcer for twelve years. Fear is a  cause of  worry. The worry makes you tense and nervous and that  affects the nerves  and actually changes the composition of  gastric juices in your stomach from normal to abnormal and that  often leads to stomach urcels.

Worrying is extremely „false-hearted“ – not only do you waste your time and energy painting a gloomy picture of your future, but above all you don’t give yourself a chance to act so  that your future could change. Worrying, you lose the ability to concentrate, you  have a restless mind, you  can’t make any decisions.

Imagine that you wake up in the morning and for 15 minutes you think about what can go wrong in the future. Not only is this time usually wasted, but it  also makes your attitude negative and doesn’t allow you to get up in  a good mood. If you devoted those 15 minutes to morning exercises and reading a few pages of some book, you would start the day in a completely different mood. What’s more, having  good mood, we get new ideas for solving problems that we have. And what we worry about usually doesn’t even happen, the problem often solves itself.

Of course it’s easier to write about it than to implement it. It results from the fact, that worrying is most often a habit, I’d even say that it’s an addiction, just like smoking or swearing

It’s a habit which won’t dissapear even when you solve the problems that you worry about. It’s especially noticeable among people running companies. Worrying about the company’s income is most often the biggest concern of people starting and running their own business. But what is funny is the fact that even the second they get that money, those worries don’t dissapear.  There are another ones  – will I fulfill my duties, will I find the  appropriate people to fulfill the  contract, will another income appear after I run out of money that I already have? The list goes on.

Stephen Leacock wrote:

How strange  is our  life! The child says, „When I am a big boy.“ But what is that? The big boy says, „When I grow up.“ And then,when he is  grown up, he says, „When I get married then….“ Does he finally  stop thinking?   No, he keeps on thinking  „When I’m able to retire.“ And then, when retirement comes, he looks back on the road he passed;and it seems to him that  a cold wind  sweeps  it; somehow he has missed it all, and it is gone. We learn too late that life  is about  living every single  hour every day.

Of course it’s not about not making any efforts to change the future. One thing is  planning and considering different possibilities and a completely different thing is  is devoting your energy  to the  inconclusive thinking.

In his book, Dale Carnegie gives the statistics from research carried out on a group of 177 directors. Their average age was 44. One third of them suffered from ilnesses typical for people living in huge stress: heart diseases, gastointestinal ulcers, gastrointestinal diseases, arterial hypertension. This is the price of success.

Just as physical symptoms in our body, the causes of our worries seem reasonable. You have to buy clothes for your children, redeem a loan, get away on holiday. But we fall into a vicious circle – after paying an installment, another one will come, and after coming back from your holidays (or even during them)  you  will go back to thinking about the same things that you left before the holiday.

How to deal with your worries then?

Firstly – define the worst case scenario.

Take a sheet of paper and write down the worst possibilities. If the company doesn’t find customers, it will stop bringing income. If doctors don’t find the cure, I will die. If no miracle  happens, the bailiff will take my house.

Secondly – accept this worst case scenario.

It’s easy to say , isn’t it? While it’s still understandable in the case of material issues,  in case of  the coming  death it’s hard to accept. But even in such hopeless situations it’s possible to find an inside acceptance. In  case of such extreme situations, it can be too much for majority of people, though I believe that everyone is able to achieve it.

How? Fortunately, I haven’t had to look death in the eyes, but in case of all the rest of events in my  life, I have gained confidence  that whatever happens, it’ll be a situation which will bring something good. Maybe now  I am not aware of what it could be, but I have always believed that as  aconsequence  something good will come out of it. These are often intangible values such as  learning persistence, the ability  not to  give up, or overcoming your fears. We usually concentrate on  physical issues, and during difficult times, we get the feeling of loss, but life is much richer than what we  notice at first sight. I always treat a material loss as an investment in myself,  in gaining  knowledge which will let me make better decisions in the future.

Accepting the worst case scenario can set you free. It puts you in the position in which you have nothing to lose. We usually have a certain image of our future – maybe we draw visions of  particular successes, a certain amount of money that we want to earn, or going on a trip that we have been preparing for . The longer we have that image in our mind, the harder it’ll be to accept the fact that it may not be realised.

In the meantime it can turn out that even that worst case scenario can lead to a situation which will eventually be better for you.

Thirdly – save what you can.

Get all the facts together at first.  Simply by doing it you will ba able  to set free from your worries. Play the role of  a counsel who is defending you. Write down  objective information that refers to your situation.

Once  you have written it down, study it and write down the steps that you can take in order to change this situation. Then make the decison to start doing it – choose one of the steps and start realising it. Don’t think about the facts anymore, leave them all behind and devote all your energy to action.

business men phonecall

In Dale Carnegie’s book there is a situation of Earl P. Hanley, from Winchester in Massachusetts, shown. He worried so much that it led him to stomach ulcers. He eventually got a strong haemorrhage and the doctors adviced him not to move at all. They considered that there was no hope for him. Gastric lavage was made twice a day. It lasted for months and his weight decreased almost by half. He eventually decided to use the time that was still left for him. He decided to set out on a journey around the world. The doctors were shocked, but he thought he had nothing to lose. He gradually stopped  taking the  tablets, later he also  stopped making gastric lavage which he had been making on his own when travelling. He soon started to eat normally. Being on the ships, he started to play and  he made new friends. After arriving in China and noticing the problems of  the residents, he faced the fact that his previous worries were nothing. After returning  to America, he went back to normal work.

But what to do to make worries not appear at all?

You’ve probably been in the state called „flow“ during your life – you were doing something out of sheer pleasure of doing it, without being aware of time passing and things happening around you.  Usually this state happens when we do something which is fully consistent with out inner needs and motivation. There is no place for worrying in such a state. Even if you don’t  known what the effect will be, you fully commit yourself to your work.

Looking at life in a more general way, I’d say that what leads to avoiding worries, is this approach:

  1. Living in harmony with your beliefs, values, inner motivation and beliefs.
  2. Faith that it leads to something good.

Step one doesn’t really mean that it’ll be easy. It usually means living in defiance of other people‘s expectations and opinions. It seems that there is a lot to worry about here. But in such a  life, it’s easier to access the deep inner  peace, access the belief that  I do what I should do in my life . And then it’s easier to believe that even though life appears to be harder now,  in the long run this life will  bring better effects.

I’d distinguish a deep sense of validity of your actions and inner peace from daily volatile emotions such as anger, exhaustion, temporary stress or fear. It’s easier to deal with these emotions when your life is in harmony  with your own beliefs. This power comes from the fact that you believe in the  validity of your actions. And it’s not an illusive power, but  the real one, the one which gives you energy every day, the one which lets you focus on what is yet to be done and to move forward.

On the other hand, if you don’t act in full consonance with yourself, there will be  a feeling of anxiety,  struggle, lack of  determination. You can try to cover these doubts with  holiday or entertainment, but they’ll come back. And they’ll lead to increasingly bigger worries.

Nobody will answer for you what the right thing to do is. It can be something completely different for everyone, and only  you know which way is right for you. It can be a vague vision  of your future, not necessarily something very clear and certain . With time it’ll become more and more concrete. Then at some  point a feeling of mission appears  and you focus  all your attention on doing the task . There is no place for worries there.

Of course  no  day  is planned in advance. You can’t control everything that happens in your life. However, if you live in consonance with yourself, you believe that it leads to something good, then it’s easier to accept unexpected situations which happen to you. Then comes the  thought : „Well, I did what I could, I couldn’t plan that, so I will think  how to deal with it“. And thereby we come back to the first three rules of this entry.

Dale Carnegie talked to many founders and chairmen of various companies. J. C. Penney,  the founder of a nation-wide chain of Penney stores told him:

I wouldn’t worry even  if I lost everything to the last cent  because I don’t see what is to be gained by worrying. I do the best job I possibly can; and I  leave the results in the laps of the  gods.

The president of the Chrysler Corporation, K. T. Keller told him:

There are so many factors that influence the course of events ! Nobody can tell what drives them – and how to  understand them. So why worry about them?

Admiral Ernest J. King, who commanded  the United States Navy during World War II once said:

I have supplied the best men with the best equipment we have, and I have given them what seems to be the optimal task. That is all I can do. If the  ship sinks, I can’t lift it up from the bottom. I can use my time much better working on tomorrow’s problem than by fretting about yesterday’s. Besides, if I let those things get me, I wouldn’t last long.

The only way to change the tomorrow is devoting all your energy to  doing what is to be done today.

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