The upside and downside of worry.
    The upside and downside of worry.

    Every negative emotion has a good cause.

    How much time do we spend worrying and why do we do it?

    As coaches, we hold a philosophy that the way our natural human personality system is a beautiful creative design wired in a way that (if shaped well by nurture) holds the potential for good. Further, we posit that even negative emotions have a good reason for existing. For example, anxiety exists to amp up all of our alert systems when change is afoot so we can respond with our full attention. It only goes awry when we overuse it and can’t let it go, so we stay in alert mode to our own physiological detriment (cortisol overload). Then we go overboard so much that we actually cause our own chronic, internal suffering.

    The benefit (and warning) of negative emotions.

    The same goes for worry. When something is bothering us, we have a warning system that tells us something is wrong and we need to use our reflective reasoning to sort through the details for a solution. This is good because it causes us to pause, be patient and consider the details involved in navigating life and work challenges. There is so much to do and so much to learn when we start digging in. Yet if we spend too much time studying and researching, we could also miss the point and never take the most important risks in favor of our deepest convictions. What we miss then, is a chance to make the quality of our life and outcomes exponentially greater and instead end up settling.

    Looking up above the weeds.

    Digging into the details helps us examine what it will take to assert a bold strategic move. This step is not only necessary, but will prevent oversimplification of the big picture and prevent creating false starts. With one caveat. If digging into details enables us to avoid taking risk and action at all, that’s where it goes all wrong. If examining and researching until the circumstances are perfect and we are completely ready, then we may never act at all. Then reasonable reflection shifts into worry and consumes too much of our thoughts and attention. Constant worry can even be damaging to the nervous system and cause us to feel paralyzed, frozen, powerless and unable to effect change. It can wear on our confidence over time until our worrying thoughts are repetitive patterns that prevent us from being able to assert our own needs in relationships. Instead of taking action that serves healthy productive interaction every day, we stew alone and think in circles or busy ourselves with small tasks that enable us to avoid taking firm action. This is when we can get in the weeds and miss the big picture.

    What we miss is important.

    Taking risks and being willing to put ourselves out there to be assertive requires thinking strategically. It requires us to see the larger point of what we are up to and then being willing to stake a claim for it through firm action and confident strength. If the underlying worry keeps us paralyzed and tolerant, then one day we will no longer be happy with our circumstances at all. The inevitable result is an eventual stress flip that unfolds and blows up the circumstances we have allowed for far too long. So, the short of it is that not being firm and assertive a little bit every day and asserting our needs firmly along the way can potentially create a self-fulfilling prophecy where the one thing we are most afraid of (and that is driving our passive inaction) will be exactly what unfolds. Huge change, all at once. All because we were not willing to speak from our convictions along the way.

    The existential question that lurks inside each of us.

    What do you truly, truly want in the big picture of things? And are you willing to move beyond your momentary fear to speak from the most resolved place inside you and stand in your convictions right now? Living a life-script that is designed by you requires alertness to every moment of every day. What is your gut trying to say? What does your heart long most for? What will shape a life that leads to fulfillment and peace inside you when you take your last breath? Will it have been a life well-lived? If we don’t ask ourselves this question, we are at risk of living a life scripted by someone else, instead of written from the deepest place in our soul. What do you want, right now?