Risk...Reward. What Are We Worried About?

I just changed jobs. So far, I am amazed at how happy that has made me. I love the new challenges and tests. Meeting all these new people is so much fun! The crazy thing is that I had been thinking of changing companies for at least the last two years. What took me so long?

Worry…that’s what held me back.

Thinking about risk rather than reward can really slow us down when it comes to change. Taking on unfamiliar roles and responsibilities can leave all of us with plenty of nagging worries. It’s too risky…Am I right for the job?...I don’t know how to do that…I don’t want to let everyone down…I don’t want to let myself down. Before we know it, we have lost out on what could have been something new and fabulous in our lives.

“Our brains are wired to keep us safe” says clinical psychologist David Carbonell, Ph.D., and founder of anxietycoach.com. Our brains keep us safe by anticipating all possible negative outcomes. Carbonell says that these negative images get to feel like airtight evidence that we will fall short, instead of seeming like what they actually are: distant possibilities.

Those nagging doubts and worries can really stick around. The more they play in our brains, the less likely we are to take risks and make valuable changes in our lives. This “worry cycle” can really hold us back. Left to run its course, worry can make us unhappy and frustrated. We can really get stuck. Who wants that?

Dr. Carbonell has some great strategies to help us unlock this worry “trap.” He says the key is to consciously make a shift in our thinking when those negative “what-ifs” pop into our thought processes. Read on:

The Worry: “I Won’t Measure Up.” Deep inside our own heads we can be pretty mean. Because no one else hears what we are saying to ourselves, we judge ourselves way more harshly than we would ever judge anyone else.

The Fix: Doubt Your Doubt. When little doubts make you put on the breaks switch it up. Instead of thinking that you can’t do something, remember that you can do it. In fact, you already have done something very much like the task at hand and you did it great! 95% OF THINGS YOU WORRY ABOUT
The Worry: “I’ll Let Everyone Down.” There is a new position at work and you want to go for it but some off-handed remark a co-worker made two years ago creeps into your head and stops you in your tracks. This insidious thought pattern makes us second guess our own capabilities.

The Fix: Focus On Your Capabilities. Don’t second guess them. When you think you might fall short, remember that you have years of experience to back you up. You really can do this, and you can do this successfully. Thoughts and emotions have a huge impact on our behavior. Remembering what you can do instead of what you can’t will widen the picture to help you move forward.

The Worry: “They Are Judging Me.” We may feel that everyone is looking at us to find fault; the fact is that everyone is too preoccupied with their own self-doubts to judge yours.

The Fix: Widen the View. It isn’t just about you. Think about how the other people in your group would feel is they made a mistake. It doesn’t take long to realize that you are all in the same boat. Remember, generally everyone is trying their best and, frankly, everyone could use a little support. This new perspective can be freeing. Potential failures are just blips on the radar screen. Not to worry.

The Worry: “They Are Just Being Nice.” Reassurances are nice, but they don’t last very long. What seemed to be true yesterday can evaporate today, making us unsure and worried.

The Fix: Give Yourself Credit. We actually have way more talent and skill than we give ourselves credit for. Acting like you feel confident will give you confidence. Appearing self-assured even when you are feeling the opposite will actually build confidence. Just like worry breeds more worry, the appearance of confidence will actually make you more confident for the future.

Worrying about the future can really hold you back. Remember: 95% of the things you worry about never actually happen. Take it from me; a little risk every now and then can be very rewarding.

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