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I have often read and been taught that in running a private practice that ‘writing a blog is now a digital imperative’; resulting in a coveted increased SEO ranking (something I am still confused about), giving an enhanced public image, making a practice more relatable, and ultimately; leading to more referrals. I have recognized and debated the merits of this for quite some time but have avoided the process rather pointedly, because; quite frankly, the whole process intimidates me and my anxiety goes through the roof. The worry about coming across as both professional and reachable and the unknowns about what someone may think while reading it has led me to more than a few panic episodes. So, I have done what most people do when something scares them; I have varied between trying to force the process or avoided it completely.

Recently in reworking our marketing plan I circled back to this blog topic again and have pushed through the process of a few pycho-educational based articles, adding information and content to our site but as I have read back through them, not necessarily showing the personality, culture or approach of our practice. Then, after listening to a sermon on the impact of anxiety I was hit with the reality that the anxiety that I have, in doing something as silly as writing a blog, demonstrates the endless battle between toxic worry and worry that works, and is exactly the type of thing we SHOULD be writing our blog on.

We all experience worry or anxiety at various levels when opening up to something new or different. It becomes an active struggle to avoid the butterflies in the stomach or the tightness in the chest that may come with the thought of the potential ‘what ifs’. Many reach this point of worry and freeze from the fear, they stop moving, growing or challenging themselves.

In an effort to avoid the discomfort of it we may let opportunities pass us by, avoid things that bring us genuine joy, and give up on real chances for growth or happiness; finding staying stagnant as the preferred option to failure, embarrassment or loss. We take that fear, bottle it up and store it in the pit of our stomach. We become a prisoner to those whispers of doubt, insecurity and failure, and allow it to ferment to the point of becoming a truly toxic poison. Those whispers, however, tend to be distorted; focusing only on the negative ‘what ifs’ and blocking the potential for growth, balance and happiness. We block out HOW that anxiety may lead us towards a POSITIVE path, HOW it may shape us into something MORE and GREATER then we are right now.

There is no cookie cutter answer or approach to squashing those fears, but there are actions that we can take to make them more manageable and allow us to be more moved/ motivated/ and strengthened by them rather than frozen/ weakened and paralyzed from them.

Steps to Fighting Toxic Worry
  • Never take feelings for granted, especially fear, question everything and assume nothing, start with these thoughts:
  • What am I REALLY scared of?
  • What is the worst thing that could happen if my worry is right
    • What’s my evidence for and against this?
    • What are the facts under the fears?
  • What do I stand to gain from facing this fear or backing down?
  • Who is in my corner… do I have to face this alone?
  • What do I have control of in this situation?
  • Is there any way that worrying can make it better?
  • Can I make a plan? Can I take steps towards something?
  • Is this best dealt with today, tomorrow or further down the line?
  • Ask yourself these questions, write down your answers, and talk about it with a friend, family member or support. When we take toxic worries out of our head and put them onto paper and into conversations we can break them apart and purge a lot of the poison out of them.
  • Look at not only your fears but also THEIR perspective
  • Step away from the problem, change your focus, do something enjoyable, allow yourself to sleep on it, and look at it fresh again tomorrow. You may see a different picture, option or approach that your worry blocked you from today.

The trick is NOT to have ALL the answers, it is NOT to avoid ever having worry, it is NOT to always do things just right, but it IS to challenge your discomfort and to find ways to make worry work for you. To steal a line from the sermon, the trick is to take the butterflies from your stomach and teach them how to fly in formation. To take what scares us and do something productive with it that can help us grow For me, that means sitting out on my porch at 10 PM writing a blog, putting my thoughts out there, accept feedback and self analysis and then do it all over again next week. Learning it doesn’t have to be perfect but it does have to be tried. I can always get better with time and practice. And maybe, eventually, I will actually figure out the whole SEO ranking concept.

What are some action steps you can take towards making your worry work for you?

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