Hurricane Ida and Nora

Wasted Worry

I know this may seem insensitive to those who went through Hurricane Ida in the United States or Hurricane Nora on the mainland of Mexico, but I was upset we didn’t get a hurricane. Let me explain.

Early last week, Windy.com showed a possible wind formation for this past weekend. Last Thursday NOAA made it official that there would be a tropical storm or hurricane. For three days, I obsessively monitored that latest information about the storm. How big would it become? How would it affect my city? Would there be rain or wind or both?

Windy.com

Prepare for the Worst

After living in a hurricane path for six years, we have become accustomed to hurricane season. August and September, we stay on alert. We watch the sites for notifications of storms. We are fortunate to have scientific bodies who monitor potential storms, their possible direction and intensity. We prepare for potential storms. The first few storms, we really didn’t know what we were doing, but now we know what to expect, what to purchase, and how to prepare. Just like making sure there is an ice scraper in the car and that the snow blower is in working order before a blizzard, we are able to prepare for a possible hurricane. My husband and I are blessed to have the money and means to buy and store extra food, water, and gasoline for a generator.

Hope for the Best

We prepare for the worst and hope for the best. But do I really? I did prepare for the worst, but I think I found myself expecting, and dare I say, wanting the worst. I found myself obsessed with the hurricane path. Tropical storms are interesting creatures. As much as technology and science can alert us to a storm, it is not an exact science. The forecast fluctuates as many variables, like hitting land or moving over warm waters, can change the direction and intensity of a potential storm. I, stupidly, found myself becoming angry when the storm diminished in intensity and moved away from being a threat to my home. Why is that?

Accept the Situation

Accepting the situation was NOT what I was doing. I had invested so much time and worry into the storm’s path that when it was not going to hit, I could see how much worry I had wasted. I was being an obsessed drama queen. My expectations of where, when, and how the storm was going to hit were not met, and I was angry. I was trying to control the uncontrollable. Once again, I found myself planning, worrying, and expecting instead of just living. I was angry at myself for being obsessed about a storm that never arrived.

Keep Living

This is what I forgot to do. I was focused on controlling the uncontrollable or being so focused on worry that I put my life on hold. I waited on, anticipated, the storm. I didn’t go places. I didn’t do things. I told others that I may not be able to make commitments the following week because of the storm. I put a big pause button on my life waiting for something to happen, which never materialized. And I was kinda angry because of all the time and focus I wasted.

What in your life are you waiting to have happen or to be resolved before you move forward? How much time and effort are being spent focusing on things you can not control? What parts of your life are you putting on hold until something beyond your control is resolved?  Breathe. Prepare for the worst. Hope for the best. Accept the current situation which may be one of uncertainty. And keep living.

act sign

Action Not Worry

Learning a second language helps me see the world in a new light. I have known a phrase in Spanish for a while, “no te preocupes,” which means “don’t worry about it.” What blew my mind was learning that it is based on the word “ocupar.” Let’s break it down.

“Ocupar” means to take up space, to spend time, to take a seat, to fill, to invade, to hold, to live, to be placed in, to keep busy, to hire, to seize, and to utilize. When made reflexive, “ocuparse,” it also means to tackle, to deal with, to be in charge of, to take responsibility, to look after, and to take care of.

“Preocupar” means to cause concern, to worry, to be concerned, to be interested in, and to bother about. The reflexive, “preocuparse,” means to get anxious and worry.

Adding “pre” or “before” to “ocupar” makes it “before taking responsibility and dealing with something, we worry.” Mind blown. Before we take action, before we tackle something, before we take responsibility, we are worried and anxious.

act sign
Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash

Maybe it is necessary?

Maybe being worried is the impetus of our action. Like anger is an indicator that something is wrong and needs to be dealt with, perhaps worry is our call to action. As there is good stress and bad stress, perhaps there is good worry and bad worry. I am currently planning an international trip. I am concerned about the new protocols due to the pandemic. This worry is making me act; to research what is needed and taking the steps to have my paperwork and testing in place. Worry is helping me navigate the world. It is a call to action. It is helping me focus on what needs to be resolved. This is good worry.

How much is enough “pre”?

When worry falls into the bad or unhelpful category is when we get stuck in the worry and we never act. Are we consumed by worries day and night? Are we replaying scenarios which may never play out? Have we made our worry so large that we don’t think we have the power to act? Are we so focused on the problem that we can’t find the solution? Are we missing out experiencing the moment because we are focused on our fear, worry and concern? A little worry may be a motivator. A lot of worry can stifle us.  

Using action to stop worry

Lately I have been learning how to defeat my worry by taking action. When I notice myself focusing on my worry, I make the active choice to act. Sometimes it is taking action against my worry – doing research, asking a friend for advice, doing something to resolve the issue. Sometimes it is taking action, any action. I wash the dishes. I walk the dog. I meditate. I do something, anything, except worry. I find that my movement and action break me free from worry.

What is your relationship with worry? It is a helpful indicator? Does it keep you stuck? Does it give you a reason to act? Where is worry helping or hindering you?

F.E.A.R.

Once again, I got pulled into fear. My mother-in-law was going to have surgery. Knowing how some of my friends reacted when they had the same type of surgery, I began to worry. A few family members also expressed their concern. Over time, a few of us were in a full-on fear frenzy. I could feel the fear, worry, and concern mounting in me and others. Unfortunately, at the time I was not able to gain any perspective. After the surgery, when everything turned out fine, I remembered that FEAR is really an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real.

False Evidence:  The worry I had before the surgery was all conjecture. Yes, my friends had had struggles with the surgery, but I had no concrete proof that my mother-in-law would have the same issues. My worry was based on false evidence. I took a few small facts and the experiences of others, and my mind began to blow them out of proportion. How often have you taken something out of context and make it into a mental reality? When have you made a mountain out of a mole hill?  Our minds are programmed to look for danger so we can keep ourselves and those we love safe. Unfortunately, our minds often work overtime creating problems where there are not any. In the desire to remain safe, we create stories of what we need to keep ourselves safe even if our fears are not true or inevitable.  

Appearing Real:  I took my thoughts and mental stories as fact. The more I replayed the story in my mind, the more it made me think it was a forgone reality. I created the story. I was the one who replayed it. I was the one through repetition who started to believe my own lies.

Photo by Niklas Hamann on Unsplash

Enough things in this world exist to worry about, we don’t need to create more. Here are a few ways to stay out of the slippery slope of F.E.A.R.:

Just the Facts, Ma’am:  Don’t create false news. Look at the reality of the situation. Look at what you know as a hard, cold fact not what you fear may happen. Stick to the facts and the reality of the situation not your perception or embellishment.

No Instant Replay: The pain of fear happens in us replaying our fears again and again. Something has not happened, yet we are experiencing it again and again and again by our replaying the potentially negative situation in our minds. Stay out of your mind and stick to the reality of this moment.

Address in the Truth: The time to take action is when something actually occurs. Stop acting on “what-ifs.” It is ok to be prepared for the bad, like stocking up on hurricane supplies, but if you barricade yourself in your house before a storm is officially announced, what good does that do?  

What fears are currently plaguing you? Are they true, eminent, real concerns or the story you made up of what could happen? Are you replaying your story again and again until you are terrified? Are you acting on your fear instead of the reality of the moment? 

Is Worry Holding You Down?

My husband and I love the Baja Peninsula visiting it frequently over the past few years. On September 14, 2014, Hurricane Odile hit. With no phone or internet service it was days and in one case a week before we heard from our friends who live there. Without communication, I became obsessed with any reports I could get from the area. I looked at photos of damage. I worried about the lack of food, water, and electricity. I concerned over my friends safety as desperation looting began. That week I was also hit with a massive cold.

Mike and Tori's House after Hurricane Odile
Mike and Tori’s House after Hurricane Odile

You see worry was holding me down. Every time I wondered where they were and if they were safe, it hit my immune system. Every time I looked at a report with the damage, it brought down my positive attitude. The result is my feeling poorly physically and mentally. The entire week I was out of sorts and unproductive. And most importantly, this attitude did nothing for my friends.

A better choice in this situation would have been every time the hurricane and my friends came to mind, to take a moment and surround them with love and protection. Instead of thoughts of what if and worst case scenario, I could have imagined them safe. These thoughts would have kept me centered and in a space to look for ways to support my friends as well as maintaining my normal weekly necessities. The positive energy being sent through the airwaves would have also positively affected all those in the wake of the hurricane.

As you go through your day, where are you experiencing worry? Instead of dragging yourself into the negative, what happens if you stop to take a moment to surround all those involved with love and hope? How does it change your mood? How does it change your outlook? How does it change how you address and handle the difficult situation?

If you would like to help those recovering from the hurricane, here are a few sources.

Cabo Relief Fund

Feeding Los Cabos Kids

Water Filter Distribution

Los Cabos Humane Society

Melissa Heisler

“From Type-A to Type-ME: A Framework for Stress Reduction” Helps Improve Health and Provide Tools for Surviving a Challenging Job

New book is a powerful framework for reducing stress, improving well-being, increasing mental clarity, dealing with difficult people and facing challenging workplaces

CHICAGO (May 14, 2014) – After 10 years in the world of theater followed by nearly 20 years in senior corporate marketing positions, the stress of deadline-driven jobs led to author and speaker Melissa Heisler’s own mental and physical ill health. A trip to Peru awakened her to an understanding there was no outside reason for her pain – she was causing the pain she experienced. This awakening is not the end of her story but the beginning of her search for long-lasting means to manage the stress in her life. This journey is the foundation for her new book “From Type-A to Type-ME: A Framework for Stress Reduction.”

This no-nonsense, practical book provides a customizable framework to help readers reduce the level of their current stress and limit the amount of future stress. Heisler believes stress does not need to be part of human lives and she aims to help readers learn how to reduce its impact using tools including the Type-ME Habits of Awareness, Acceptance, Alternatives and Action.

“The American Psychological Association has reported that 77% of adults in the United States population are regularly experiencing physical symptoms due to stress. There is an enormous need to make significant changes to the level of stress experienced on a daily basis to improve not only physical health, but the quality of relationships, work and life in general,” said Heisler. “Through my own experience and those of my clients I know this stress can be reduced by empowering readers to change their lives through daily applications of the tools presented in my book.”

Heisler has launched a crowd-funding campaign to support editing, designing, producing and publishing the final manuscript. Of the total funds raised, 10% will be donated to the Pubslush Foundation for Literacy. The funding budget for this project has been fixed at $10,000.

To learn more, visit the “From Type-A to Type-ME: A Framework for Stress Reduction” Project Page: http://ww.BeTypeME.com  

 

ABOUT MELISSA HEISLER

Melissa Heisler is a stress reduction expert, speaker, author, and show host. She speaks to groups including Fortune 10 companies on stress reduction and the myth of work-life balance. Heisler hosts The Empowerment Show with guest experts in health, business, career, spirituality, and women’s issues. She is a contributing author for the books, “Be There Now: Travel Stories From Around the World” and “Defining Moments: A Gathering of Women’s Journeys.” Her first solo book, “From Type-A to Type-ME: A Framework for Stress Reduction” and her contribution to “Experiences of the Light” (Career Press / New Page Books) will both be published in 2014.

“Smart, loving, and clear-sighted, Melissa is just the coach to help you repair your own life and soul, so that you can help others without burning out.” – Martha Beck (Bestselling author of 6 books, columnist for O, the Oprah Magazine, and named one of the best known life coaches in America” by NPR, USA Today, and Psychology Today.)

Fear

I like to think I am fearless, and in many ways I am. But in some ways I am not. One of the most noticeable ways is in regards to my business. I fear not having enough income to pay my bills. I fear I will not be able to make the business what I want it to be. I fear that I made a mistake making my passion and purpose my business. The problem is when I listen to my fears and believe them I make bad choices. If I believe I won’t have sufficient income, I feel it is hopeless therefore I am unmotivated to attract new clients or attend networking events. If I fear my business won’t be what I want it to be, I am constantly looking for proof of this and pull myself into a depression. If I fear my purpose is not meant to be my business, I am constantly distracted by other potential ways to bring in money. My fears then become a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Yet fears in themselves are NOT reality. Fears are only real if we believe them and act as if they are already fulfilled. The answer is to see fears as beliefs and not reality. Fears are expectations we move and act upon because we believe them to be our fate. Our fearful beliefs and expectations are only thoughts. The simple and difficult way to move forward fearlessly in our lives is to release our negative beliefs and expectations.

PanamaRecently I was able to do just this on our trip to Panama. I had a fear of returning our rental car late. I feared my unexercised winter legs would not make it to the top of Cerro Ancón. I had a fear I could not stay afloat in the ocean. One by one I released these thoughts and amazingly found the power to move forward. In doing so, I also found new options and opportunities which had been blocked by my focus on fear.

One of the biggest fears this Recovering Type-A released, even before we left for our trip, was not having all of our hotels booked ahead of time. We were leaving for a country we never visited before where we did not speak the local language fluently and were going into cities we could find little information about. I released the fear we would be sleeping in our rental car and trusted. Had I not let go of the fear, my Type-A would have taken over and booked a hotel in Las Tables where I thought I wanted to go. As it turns out it is a really neat town – for a few hours. Had I booked two nights there it would have been less than desirable. In letting go however, things turned out better than I could have ever planned. Between the recommendation from the proprietor of our first hotel, La Estancia, and the assistance of a LinkedIn buddy from Try Panama, we stayed at a secluded beachfront hotel and a posh resort which were both available and within our budget. There was no hassle or any real effort on my husband’s or my part. We just needed to make our needs known and accept the great gifts given to us.

PanamaThis experience helped me see and release the other fears which came up on our trip. I knew and trusted that releasing my fears allowed new, better, brilliant opportunities to arrive.

What are your current fears?

Do you have fears around paying bills? Around your or your loved ones heath? Do you have fears about some seemingly unattainable future goal? Look at the fear. Is there any substantial proof it will absolutely 100% occur as you fear? If not, let it go. Then feel the pressure and anxiety lift as you release what is not fated to be. Feel your power return. Feel your joy. Then keep your mind clear and take baby step after baby step toward what you want. You will be amazed by what happens – for the better – and without any major planning or substantial effort of your own.