There are (at least) five reasons why worry is an obstacle to progress:
Worry makes you feel paralyzed. It's as if you are living with a handicap that doesn’t exist.
Worry makes everything seem worse than it is because you're not living in reality.
Worry distracts you from the task at hand.
Worry causes you to take on burdens you can’t handle today.
Worry makes you ungrateful for your current reality because you are fixated on destruction or desolation that hasn’t happened yet (and most likely never will happen).
I have experienced each of the reasons listed above in my own life. I have lived a distracted life and missed opportunities by contemplating each worry as it comes instead of addressing the task at hand.
After spending many years feeling paralyzed by worry, I found I needed to conquer it by making a concrete decision to act or let the worry go. Below you will find three steps I have found to be helpful when conquering worry in my own life.
How to conquer worry in everyday life*
Step One: Call it as it is - identify the worry and its source (examples: a thought sparked by a comment from a friend, a post on social media, the news, fear, etc).
Step Two: Is this worry based in truth or a lie you have chosen to believe?
If the worry is based in truth or there is a valid reason for this worry, identify a small, practical action you can take toward conquering this worry.
For example, I am worried I won't get everything done tomorrow and I feel too overwhelmed to do anything.
This is based in truth because I do have a very busy day tomorrow.
I could begin to conquer this worry by writing a list of the three most important things I need to get done tomorrow and give myself permission to only consider what is on the list.
If this worry is based in a lie, speak the truth or counter-argument to the lie in order to set it aside. Share this worry with someone if you’re unable to speak the truth yourself and allow them to help you let it go.
For example, I am worried everyone is always hanging out without me.
I can speak truth into this worry. It is based in a lie because I know that my friends have busy schedules themselves and they have told me how much they look forward to getting together again soon.
Step Three: End with one of the following (whether you have chosen to take action or speak truth into the worry) to provide closure and a step back into reality:
Complete the task-at-hand. What are you supposed to be doing at this very moment?
Go outside or seek a change in scenery.
*If you don’t want to go through this process, skip to step three and complete the task at hand. Perhaps this worry is simply a distraction from what you are supposed to be doing and isn’t as much of a concern as you initially thought.
Conquering worry in a concrete way makes it possible to strive for progress over perfection and truly live a life of freedom.