Quiet the Worry Tornado for Success

Self confidence is one of the keys to personal and professional success that I discuss in Straight Talk for Success.  If you want to become self confident, you need to three things.  1) Become and optimist.  2) Face your fears and act.  3) Surround yourself with positive people.

Last week, Alan Rowley, The Success Warrior, commented on one of my blog posts talking about how worry can turn to fear and paralyze us into inaction.  His comment was so right on target that I asked him if he would write a guest post for this blog – something I do very seldom.  Alan was gracious enough to agree.  See what he has to say about “quieting the worry tornado.”

Most of us have been caught up in tornado of worry at some point in our lives.  It happens when we think about changing something or taking an action outside our comfort zone.  Thinking about doing something different than our past norm brings it on.  The bigger the difference, the bigger the tornado.  Changing jobs, starting our own business, taking a relationship to a new level, ending a relationship that no longer serves us, or giving a presentation when we have avoided talking in front of crowds all our lives can all bring on the whirling inside our heads.

Ironically, humans are caught between wanting things to be better and wanting things to stay the same.  Like high and low fronts, where these two meet there is turbulence in our minds.  We think about what we want and our brain immediately jumps in with some kind of objection in the form of a worry.  That worry leads to another worry.  That one leads to another and that one to the next.  That one leads us back to some form of the very first thought we had, only this time it has gained power.  As these same few thoughts circle around, they seem to gain momentum, and before long we have a gut-wrenching F5 tornado of worry spinning inside our head.  Once it has reached that point, even thinking about what we really want, just in passing, can quickly bring up the tornado of thoughts and all the feelings that go with it.

Calming the storm inside your mind can be done rather quickly and easily.  All it takes is a pen and a piece of paper.  Sit down and start writing down all the different worries that you have about a particular choice or event.  Your goal is to change every windy thought into one of concrete.  I do mean all of them.

Some of them are going to seem downright silly when you go to write them.  You’ll be tempted to not write them down because you realize that some of these “worries” could never actually happen.

That’s half the point of writing them down.  The first half is just to get them out of your head.  For most people, there is a very literal shift of thought from brain to paper.  The ones that you write down will stop circling around in your head.  The second half, the half about writing down worries that you now consider foolish, is to demonstrate to yourself  just how many worries are created by your imagination with very little basis in reality.  It weakens all future worry tornadoes because you’ll know, from doing this drill, that many of the twirling thoughts are complete fabrications of our imagination.

Consequently, all worries are based in imagination but some of them are more imaginative than others.  Write them down.  All of them.  Show yourself that your mind is playing tricks on you.

When you think you have them all written down, sit quietly for another couple minutes and think about the event or decision and see if your mind will drum up a couple more worries for you to write down. 

When you’re sure there is nothing left to worry about in your head, look over the list that you made.  Go ahead and laugh out loud at the ones that are way out there.  Cross each one off your list that just seems improbable now that it’s been put into words.  If you’re like most people, this will wipe out most of your list.

When you’re done crossing off the unlikely, you’ll probably be left with 1 or 2 “actual” worries.  Mere gusts pushing back against your desire to make a positive change where there used to be a raging tornado.

There are some techniques that you can use to diminish even these “real” worries but even without those techniques, you’ll find that you are now looking at the event or decision with a much clearer head.  Worry will have given way to objectivity and the swirling thoughts will no longer be a distraction for you.  You will be back in a mindset where you can go on with your daily life in a focused manner and be in a better mental place should you decide to tackle the tough decision that was once a confusing tornado of imaginative thoughts.

As always, I wish you success in all your endeavors.

The common sense point here is simple.  Successful people are self confident.  Self confident people face their fears and act.  Worry can paralyze you into never facing your fears and acting.  Alan Rowley’s suggestion about writing your worries on a piece of paper to see how foolish some of them are is pure brilliance.  When you get your worries and fears down in black and white, they don’t seem as difficult – or worrisome – as they are when they’re in your head.  Once you’ve cut your worries down to size, you can more easily face them and act.

That’s my take on Alan Rowley’s thoughts on how to quiet the worry tornado.  What’s yours?   Please leave a comment sharing your thoughts with us.  Who knows, you may be the next person I ask to do a guest post here.  As always, thanks for reading.


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  1. Excellent, practical suggestion. I’ve done something similar on a mental level but never taken the step to write it down. I’ve spent a lifetime doing things that friends and family members think are crazy and terrifying. Sometimes it has been scary but I always start with calming the whirlwind down and facing it one step at a time. Never fails.

  2. Lynette:
    You’re right. Writing down your fears helps cut them down to size.
    If you get a chance, please leave a comment shating some of the crazy and terrifying things you’ve done and how you prepared yourself mentally to do them.
    Thanks again for your comment.

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