When I first started writing, I would produce work but never put it out because of a perceived lack of interest. In my mind, I’d never stop worrying about whether the my next article would be received well by my audience. The more I wrote, the more I would send my work to the “save it for later” folder. Rather than bite the bullet and publish content, I would hold onto it, not having any idea when I would come back to it – if ever.
Interestingly enough, even the most successful people have this problem. When I thought about how many songs music artists would make, it changed my view on the content I published. A musician may create hundreds of songs, but only some of those make it on their album. There would be many reasons why other tracks in their vault wouldn’t see the light of day. Many of those reasons stem from thinking whether they’re good enough to put out, or whether their audience is ‘ready’ for something different.
The truth is, everyone worries. Few of us realize how it can impact progression and stop us from moving forward. Unfortunately for us, it’s a part of life. The most common causes are in the work we do and the relationships we have. High-pressure jobs tend to produce more worry and stress than a tranquil job would. At the same time, marital problems and financial woes place a cloud of confusion about the future. The problem lies in our ability to analyze the situation internally. Because there’s so much confusion, we can’t stop worrying.
Stop Worrying Like Galen Litchfield
To clear our mind and start living, we can take a trip back to 1942 and look at Galen Litchfield’s story. Known as a successful businessman, Litchfield based himself in China in 1942 when the Japanese invaded Shanghai. Shortly after they took Pearl Harbour, the Japanese Army swarmed the country, where they ran into Litchfield. At the time, the manager of an Insurance company, Litchfield, came across liquidators from the Japanese Army. They stormed into his workplace, ordering him to help assist in liquidating the assets of the company he managed. Litchfield had no choice in the matter. The admiral advised him to cooperate, or it will be certain death.
Litchfield went through the motions of doing what the Army had told him because he had no alternative. But had been one block of securities worth $750,000, which he left off the list he gave to the admiral. The block belonged to Hong Kong and wasn’t part of the Shanghai assets. At that moment, Litchfield could not stop worrying about what the Japanese would do if they found out he had left those block of assets off the list.
They eventually did find out. Litchfield wasn’t in the office at the time. Still, the admiral stormed the Insurance Company and told the head accountant that Litchfield defied the Japanese Army. It meant that he would be heading to Bridge House, a Shanghai prison controlled by the Japanese. He had friends who killed themselves rather than being taken to jail and had other friends who had died within ten days inside the Bridge House through questioning and torture.
Litchfield should have been terrified. He heard the news on a Sunday afternoon and did what he usually does. Litchfield had a superior technique for solving problems that worried him. For years, whenever a cloud of confusion and stress surrounded him, he would go to his typewriter and write out two questions:
1) What am I worried about?
2) What can I do about it?
He found that writing down these questions clarified his thinking. Similar to how we would write down our goals, Litchfield would write down his worries. The answer to the first question was easy. But the answer to the second required time with his thoughts, where he came up with a four-step process.
What am I worried about?
I am afraid I will be thrown into the Bridge house tomorrow morning.
What can I do about it?
1. “I can try to explain to the Japanese admiral. But he “no speak English”. If I try to explain to him through an interpreter, I may stir him up again. That might mean death, for he is cruel, would instead dump me in the Bridge house than bother talking about it.”
2. “I can try to escape. Impossible. They keep track of me all the time. I have to check-in and out of my room at the Y.M.C.A. If I try to escape, I’ll probably be captured and shot.”
3. “I can stay here in my room and not go near the office again. If I do, the Japanese admiral will be suspicious. He will probably send soldiers to get me and throw me into the Bridge-house without giving me a chance to say a word.”
4. “I can go down to the office as usual on Monday morning. If I do, there is a chance that the Japanese admiral may be so busy that he will not think of what I did. Even if he does think of it, he may have cooled off and may not bother me. If this happens, I am all right. Even if he does bother me, I’ll still have a chance to try to explain to him. So, going down to the office as usual on Monday morning and acting as if nothing had gone wrong gives me two chances to escape the Bridge-house.”
As soon as Litchfield thought it all out, he went with the fourth plan: To go down to the office as per his routine. When he entered the office the following morning, he sat down at his desk and looked over at the Japanese admiral. Sitting there with a cigarette dangling from his mouth, he said nothing. Six weeks later, the admiral left and went back to Tokyo, and Litchfield’s worries had ended.
How To Address Your Worries
Have you made a decision in your life, only to consistently second-guess it? It’s a familiar pattern of human behaviour, where we wonder if we did the right thing and whether or not there’s time to change the route. Although common, It can also be damaging when trying to find ways to address our worries. Dealing with what we lose sleep on starts with analyzing the facts. Take a step back and accept what you’re worried and stressed about. Acknowledge it’s part of life, and start to think through the scenarios that could play out. By doing this, you can begin to embrace the worst-case scenario.
Embrace The Worst-Case Scenario.
When three doctors told Earl P. Haney that he had fatal duodenal ulcers, the outlook was gloomy. The doctors told him he needed to rest and watch what he ate, but would eventually die soon. After Haney analyzed the facts of what was about to happen, he embraced his fate. After advice from the doctors, Haney wrote out his will and bought a casket so his body could be shipped back to his family in Nebraska. He then overruled his doctors, travelled the world, ate international foods, and lived his last days drinking, smoking cigars, and drinking strong cocktails.
Haney enjoyed his time travelling more than ever. Once Haney reached India, he didn’t think of the financial woes and health issues back home. There was more to life than worrying about what’s going to happen. He accepted the worst-case scenario, and once he stopped obsessing over his problems, they disappeared. Once Haney arrived home, he sold back his casket and still kept living.
If you lose a job, you can get another one.
If you require surgery, you can bounce back.
If you get a divorce, you’ve gained significant life experience.
The mind is incredibly powerful and can make the most healthy feel the sickest. If you pay close attention to what you’re thinking and how it’s affecting you, embracing the worst-case scenario helps calm you down. It pushes you into a forward-thinking direction, where you can start living life more effectively and stop worrying.
Stop Worrying, Start Living
How we act and the emotions we have work hand in hand. We can’t directly influence how we feel, but we can control it directly through how we think and act. The simple way to feel happier is to perform the act of it. Think of what you currently have and what you’re grateful for, which makes you happy. The next time you experience worry and uncertainty, allow yourself to feel the feelings and accept the facts. Assume and embrace the worst-case scenario and start working to improve it. When we stop worrying and start living, life becomes more valuable to us. We look to improve and do great things.