Interpersonal Edge: Worry can fuel your problem solving
Saturday, August 31, 2019

By Dr. Daneen Skube

Tribune Content Agency
Q: I am a worrier. I worry about thawing permafrost unleashing devastating viruses, the collapse of the dollar, and whether my boss is planning to fire me. I act calm, but internally I worry about everything. I've noticed more people around me seem constantly worried. How can I make my worry help me and not hurt me on the job?
A: You can make your worry a friend if you realize worry used correctly is fuel to begin problem solving. You cannot control bad things but you can become a master at problem solving. Your problem solving, like any skill, improves by tenacious practice.
We are the genetic legacy of people who worried and stayed alive. The problem isn't that we worry. The problem is that we stop at worrying not working on exits from problems. In the Alcoholics Anonymous program, they say that first the man takes the drink and then the drink takes the man. A similar thing can happen when a man has a worry and then worry takes over.
Worry is not a train stop to get off at but simply part of our journey. Unfortunately, we often stare at a mountain of worry and crawl back in bed. If we believe we are powerless our worry becomes perpetual. We never escape either our problems or our worry.
A stubborn refusal to give up on problem solving will slowly peck away at even huge problems. I have often stared at thorny problems for years before a breakthrough, and often simple, solution occurred to me.
The price we pay is that we have to be willing to be upset for quite a long time. Think of your emotional upset as the crockpot in which solutions are brewing. If you walk away from your discomfort, you unplug the cooking process which is baking your solution.
Einstein remarked that a solution could not be created at the same level of thinking that created the problem. If we aspire to up level our thinking, then we have to be uncomfortable. Your comfort zone is where you aren't learning anything new and innovation will never happen.
If you approach worry with this new approach, when a problem mugs you out of the blue you can trust yourself to use your fear to problem solve. The muscle memory you've developed through using all your small anxieties will have taught you how to find beautiful solutions even in the face of terrible circumstances! 
And what could make you feel calmer than the knowledge you are more resilient and creative than any fear you face?
The last word(s)
Q: I have a co-worker that was promoted and is acting like a jerk and a bully. Does powe corrupt people?
A: No, people corrupt power. You can tell the true nature of a person when you see what he or she does with any amount of power.  
Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker, also appears as the FOX Channel's "Workplace Guru.”. She's the author of "Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything" (Hay House, 2006). 
Contact her at 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027. Sorry, no personal replies.

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