We are the change

6 Easy steps to break the worry cycle…

It’s 2am again. For the 5th night in a row, you wake up. Your head is swimming with the same thoughts, the same problem over and over again. Countless hours are spent going over the issue and yet no solution appears.

There never will be a solution magically appearing at 2am. You’re exhausted, tired and short on new ideas.

From the experience of my own sleepless nights and that of my clients, I know that it’s extremely difficult to solve the problem with the same thinking that created it.

This is because we get trapped in our patterns of thinking and reach for the most familiar answer. We view the issue with the same perspective and it seems impossible to get a fresh angle or new answers.

The problem remains and we continue to fret.

Instead of losing precious sleep churning over the same problem again and again, try these approaches to solving the issue.

Step 1: Name it

Get a piece of paper and write your issue down. Get a specific as possible as this will help you be realistic about the issue. When we are thinking about our problems, especially at 2am, we do have a tendency to blow them out of proportion. Writing it down brings it back to reality.

Step 2: Remember what it’s all for

Chances are you have a problem because you are reaching for something. A goal, a new business venture, a change in your business or life.

When we are stuck in the trenches ruminating about our problem, we forget what we are striving for. Take some time to remember what the big idea is.  This will help to put your issue into perspective, and give you the direction you need to head in to find your solution.

Step 3: List out your solutions so far

Take all those thoughts you have been having as ways to solve the issue, and jot them down. Clearing your head out will give you some space to think creatively. And when you see them written down, you might find the right answer!

Step 4: Consult Your “A” Team

To break your thinking patterns, imagine you have a fabulous, wise group of associates to call upon. Think about the expertise you need to help you solve your problem. Do you need a brilliant business brain, a marketing master, a confidence catalyst or maybe a wise sage?

Create a list of 5 people whose opinions you would respect. Maybe it’s people like Sheryl Sandberg, Vivienne Westwood, Hilary Clinton, Oprah, Ghandi, or maybe your mum. Or an old boss that you respected and learnt from.

Then for each person on your list, imagine what advice they would give you to solve your issue. Consider how they would view it, and what they would tell you to do. Take some time to work through your list creatively, without censoring any of their suggestions.

By taking someone else’s perspective, you break out of your own patterns of thinking and get some new solutions.

Step 5: What will you be thinking in 5 years time?

When we are stuck in the grip of an issue it can be easy to lose perspective. Considering what the implications of the situation we face now will be in five years time, loosens up our thinking and gives us a sense of how important this issue really is. Ask yourself “will the outcome of this be something I’ll be worrying about in five years?”

Step 6: Mediocre, Marvellous, Magic!

Imagine if you had three ways to solve your problem, an average solution, a good and then a great solution. What would the three different solutions be?

Use this approach to stretch your thinking from the first and obvious answers to explore far-ranging alternatives that may be even better for you!

If you find yourself waking again at 2am churning through a problem again, say to yourself “Stop! I know I have a way to solve it and it can wait until morning”.  Take control of your thinking and choose to use your mind to think of something else!

I’d love to hear what you think in the comments!


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  1. Sharon Eden says

    Hi Wendy…

    Good tips… and, as Einstein said, you can’t resolve a problem with the same level of thinking which created it!

    So, for me, the best solution here is create your own A Team where you get out of your own thinking. Imagination is where numerous advances in human knowledge were initiated… Einstein’s theory of relativity, Crick and Watson re DNA.

    Acting ‘as if’ you were someone else also helps. As does an auto-hypnotic technique which interrupts the obsessive thinking.

    Thanks for a stimulating blog post…

    1. wendy kerr says

      Hi Sharon,
      Thanks for your comments – I do love the idea of ‘acting as if’ – also known as ‘fake it till you make it’! Often I will use this for myself and clients and say “if you knew the answer and there would be a great outcome, what would it be?” And ‘pop!’ out can come the answer – it is loosening the frames of our thinking that does it.

  2. Amelia Olivia says

    Worrying does no good to physical, emotional and social aspect in one’s life. I agree that instead of worrying, it is best to find solutions for it.

    Thanks, lovely post. 😉

  3. Bethany says

    Great article! Thanks for sharing, Wendy. I’ll tell you what works for me. When I’m worried or stressed, I take a day off and have lunch or dinner with a good friend of mine. That makes me feel relaxed.