Today, I want to talk about toxic worry and how to deal with stress in your life in three easy steps.
My story goes back about three or four years ago when I first took over TDS. It was very stressful. I was learning to be a leader. I had to lead 40 to 60 people. I was living with my partner at this point and we were fighting a lot.
It was about two weeks of just massive stress. I was working hard on having higher standards for myself and not slacking off. Some of my emails are not being answered and there’s a bunch of things I’m just collecting in my body and in my mind. It’s all the stress.
About two weeks into it, I go over to my mentor’s place, my business partner, my boss. He can see like my energy is totally different and all he says was literally, “are you okay?” And out of nowhere, I start crying. I’m crying in front of this man. It just started coming out like on uncontrollable wailing. I can only remember one or two times in my life I’ve cried that hard. I collapsed into a chair and for like three or four minutes, maybe four or five words that are coming out for me, I’m just not making sense. I’m just crying because I’m so tired. I’m so tired, I felt lonely, not understood, and isolated. I feel like the whole world is collapsing around me and nobody understands me. I just felt like I was dealing with it.
That moment when he asked me, “are you okay?” All the walls came down. I don’t remember what he said. I do remember that after I cried I felt a little bit better. And then he’s like, “Dude, just go home, go sleep and you got to talk to your partner.”
So I drove home. I laid down on my couch and I know as soon as I laid down I just fell asleep. My body just shut down. Then I woke up to the sound of my partner coming home and I’m scared. I’m scared because I don’t want to put pressure on my partner. I don’t want to disappoint her.
So she’s like, “Hey, how are you? I did some shopping, blah, blah”, and I’m silent. I’m always talking so silence for me is very weird. She’s like, “Hey, are you okay?” Then I started whimpering again. She runs up to the couch, she goes down on her knees like, “Hey, what’s going on?” I just start letting it out again how I’m so lost. I mean, I feel frustrated in a relationship because I feel like she does understand me but I haven’t really communicated anything for her to understand me much. At school, I’m overwhelmed and I’m making all these and just all started releasing. She kind of hugged me and it just felt so nice being able to open to someone. I didn’t realize how heavy that weight was until I started to release it.
So, here’s the thing about worry, toxic worry, toxic stress. It survives because of isolation. We build up this isolation, loneliness in a dark corner and we put ourselves there. It can only thrive in that kind of environment.
I realized at that moment, as I tried to be more vulnerable and more open to the people that care about me and sometimes even strangers, that vulnerability is a superpower. The worst consequence of toxic worry is you just start to feel less and less like you #belong in your own life. You feel more lonely and you feel less accepted. I believe in my heart that the world would be a better place if we all felt like we #belong.
Regular worry is a good thing. Short bursts of worry. Stress can help us grow, can challenge us to go to the next level. But toxic, constant, daily worry even in micro doses will poison you.
So here are the three steps in order to deal with toxic worry:
One, you have to talk to someone. Anyone. As scary as it is, you have to talk to someone. Because when you shed light on that isolation like a cockroach, it gets scared of the light because that light is other people saying, “Hey, I want to be here for you. I never even knew you’re suffering. What can I do? What do you need?” We all need that.
Two, get your facts straight. A lot of our worries are based on just a lack of understanding. For me, when I was stressed in those two weeks I felt like nobody understood me. I felt like I’m failing everywhere but I wasn’t. I was making a ton of mistakes and sure there were some people that I cared about whose approval I wanted. I created these negative generalized facts in my head.
So, go research and go get the facts. Maybe you’ve been struggling with depression, clinical depression or maybe it’s ADHD like I have. Who knows but go research and get the facts about what the situation ACTUALLY is. Maybe it’s a struggling business. Go get the facts. What can the government do? What kind of support can you get? Get the facts.
Three, make a plan. How are you going to deal with this? What are the steps you need to address it. If the plan doesn’t work, don’t quit! Make a new plan, adjust, pivot and try again.
So from my personal example, how can we break those steps down.
One (Never Worry Alone) I couldn’t control but I just balled in front of my boss and told him all these things that I’m struggling with. He embraced me and shed light into that isolation that I put myself into.
Two (Gent The Facts), looking back I remember him telling me, “Dude, you’re not alone. There are other people and you’re blowing things out of proportion. You’re not ruining everything. You are missing knowledge and you have to learn through it through mistakes and all these other things you’re telling me.” Those were the facts.
Three (Action Plan), when I came home I made a decision to talk to my partner. I made a plan. I also made a plan not to keep bottling it up cause it was unhealthy for me.
It’s not healthy to put all that toxic worry on yourself cause you feel like you don’t #belong. That’s one of the worst feelings ever, to not feel like you belong in your own life. So, those are the three steps to dealing with toxic worry and I hope it gave you some insight. The biggest of all is always step one, talk to someone cause that vulnerability will set you free.
If you want me to answer another question or you want me to give you advice on something you’re struggling with, please leave it in the comments below.