One of the best ways to determine how much stress we are under is to look at how much we tend to worry. The two go hand in hand. The more stress we are under, the more we tend to worry, and vice-versa. Today’s Provision provides two ways for you to determine your worry index: one looks at physical worries, the other looks at life worries. Put them together and you get a sense of the worry load you are carrying. The higher the load, the more important it becomes to whittle it down to size.
As I write this I am attending a week-long, Living Energy of Needs training event in Minneapolis, MN. It is a wonderful opportunity to connect with myself and with others on a different level than I normally experience. Normally, I spend a lot of time in the world of ideas and thoughts. Here, through the process known as Nonviolent Communication, we are spending a lot of time in the world of needs and feelings.
What a difference! The conversation among the 55 participants seeks to understand and care deeply for the emotional and spiritual sides of life. There’s still plenty of talking, but there’s even more listening and empathizing. Few things are stepped over. If someone has a feeling about something that someone else may have said or done, that feeling is likely to be shared and processed through the beauty of the needs. I know • I experienced that myself more than once! 🙂 It’s riveting to be seen and heard with such authenticity. I am enjoying the experience.
And it comes at a good time in this Provision series on stress since I have one more way to assess how much stress we may be experiencing in life and work: the worry factor. It’s all about feelings and needs. Worry is a feeling that can be stimulated by a perceived threat to the meeting of needs. That’s obvious when it comes to such basic human needs as physical well-being or financial security. But worry can set in when we perceive a threat to the meeting of any need, even the most sublime. And the more worried we are, the more stress we are under.
So how worried are you? The following survey, adapted from a similar survey published in 1977 by Laurence Good and Chester Parker, presents 24 statements about physical worries that may or may not apply to you. Mark and count the number of statements to which you can say “Yes” to get a sense of your physical worry index.
|1. I tend to worry about not being in good physical condition.|
|2. I tend to worry about eating too many unhealthy foods.|
|3. I tend to worry about the appearance or condition of my teeth.|
|4. I tend to worry about the appearance or condition of my hair.|
|5. I tend to worry about not getting enough exercise.|
|6. I tend to worry about pains in my back or side.|
|7. I tend to worry about the condition of my skin.|
|8. I tend to worry about having bad breath.|
|9. I tend to worry about having unpleasant body odor.|
|10. I tend to worry about the appearance of my nose, mouth, or cheeks.|
|11. I tend to worry about the appearance of my hands and fingernails.|
|12. I tend to worry about the appearance of my legs or feet.|
|13. I tend to worry about having a poor speaking voice.|
|14. I tend to worry about putting too much strain on my body.|
|15. I tend to worry about not getting enough sleep.|
|16. I tend to worry about the condition of my lungs.|
|17. I tend to worry about straining my eyes too much.|
|18. I tend to worry about pains in my chest or abdomen.|
|19. I tend to worry about not being able to endure pain very well.|
|20. I tend to worry about not having enough physical strength or stamina for certain activities.|
|21. I tend to worry about getting injured in an accident.|
|22. I tend to worry about the possible harmful effects of certain physical activities I engage in.|
|23. I tend to worry about the physical discomfort or pain of dying.|
|24. I tend to worry about what will happen to my body after death.|
So how many physical worries did you identify with? Remember, the question was not do you worry about these things all the time. The question was, do you tend to worry about these things. You probably know who you are, if that’s the case. Here is how Good and Parker score the assessment:
- 0-10 “Yes’s” suggest a Mild amount of stress
- 8-12 “Yes’s” suggest a Moderate amount of stress
- 13-24 “Yes’s” suggest a Significant amount of stress
And that’s just on the physical side of the equation. In light of the Wheel of Needs that I developed and wrote about in my last Provision series on Life-Giving Needs we can easily create another assessment of 24 items that goes to the heart of many other crucial concerns. You might ask yourself, for example, how many of the following statements are true for you:
|1. I tend to worry about my physical safety.|
|2. I tend to worry about my human rights.|
|3. I tend to worry about my job security.|
|4. I tend to worry about my ability to do my job.|
|5. I tend to worry about the contribution I am making to society.|
|6. I tend to worry about whether or not I can trust the people I work with.|
|7. I tend to worry about what other people think of me.|
|8. I tend to worry about whether or not I have power in my world.|
|9. I tend to worry about what I want to do with my life.|
|10. I tend to worry about getting my needs met.|
|11. I tend to worry about whether or not people understand me.|
|12. I tend to worry about my ability to control my own destiny.|
|13. I tend to worry about my way of being with other people.|
|14. I tend to worry about pushing myself hard enough.|
|15. I tend to worry about getting enough rest.|
|16. I tend to worry about whether my life has any meaning.|
|17. I tend to worry about whether or not I am in tune with the universe.|
|18. I tend to worry about where all the fun has gone in my life.|
|19. I tend to worry about how many losses I have suffered.|
|20. I tend to worry about my financial security.|
|21. I tend to worry about the health of one or more loved ones.|
|22. I tend to worry about getting in over my head.|
|23. I tend to worry about the people I am hanging out with.|
|24. I tend to worry about being taken advantage of.|
So now how many worries do you identify with? Chances are good that the number more than doubled. And if so, then chances are good that your stress levels are pretty high regardless of what the other assessments may have indicated over the past few weeks.
That’s because worrying is like rocking in a rocking chair: you can rock and rock and rock, but you never get anywhere. If anything, the more you worry the worse you feel. You become even more painfully aware of the perceived threats to the meeting of needs.
That kind of thinking, what one of my clients as “stinking thinking,” can do more harm than good. Although a case can often be made for prudence, the energy around prudence does not include worry. Worry, which according to the dictionary means to “torment oneself with or suffer from disturbing thoughts” and to “feel uneasy or concerned about something,” actually works against prudence since it negatively impacts our ability to think clearly and to handle our emotions.
In weeks to come we’ll be focusing on what to do about stress, and we will certainly explore how to transform worry into more constructive energies. For now, however, I would give you a helpful distinction for sorting out your worries. Are you worrying about something in the present moment or are you worrying about something that has happened or that may happen in a different moment?
Most worries have to do with the stories we are telling ourselves about the past and the future. We regret something that happened in the past, and we worry about its consequences. Or we fear something that may happen in the future, and we worry about its ramifications. In both cases, the worry loop is triggered by a non-immediate threat. We are not being chased by a lion in the present moment. We are rather remembering or imagining being chased by a lion in a different moment.
Unfortunately, our bodies react the same way to remembered and imagined threats as they react to immediate threats. Our mirror neurons kick in, the adrenalin flows, and the next thing you know we are in panic mode. So getting anchored in the present moment is one way to interrupt the worry loop. Breathe deep. Scan your body from head to toe. Feel the floor under your feet. Look around and notice what is in your environment. If there is no immediate threat, such mindful attention to the present moment will often help to calm things down.
Coaching Inquiries: How much do you tend to worry about? How many worries do you carry about your physical well-being? How many worries do you carry about other needs? How would you rate their severity on a scale of 0-10? Where do you feel those worries in your body? What might you do to lower your worry factor? Who and what could assist you to stay anchored in the present moment?
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Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob..
I am really having fun reading your occasional updates on Twitter. Thanks for giving us another way to stay connected.
I would like to try coaching by Twitter. Let me know if that would be a possibility. (Ed. Note: If you set up a Twitter account and arrange to have us follow you, it would be possible for us to post replies. Let us know if you would like to talk more about this.)
May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.
Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC
President, LifeTrek Coaching International, www.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformation, www.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coaching, www.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a Time, Online Retailers
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