One day I came across this quote by Mark Twain and it hit me right between the eyes:

I realized that I had spent a great deal of my life worrying. I worried about big things (business, money, health, safety). I worried about little things (traffic, weather, food choices, Internet speeds). You name it; I'd worry about it.

The kicker was, most of these things never happened!

Once I started to open up to more and more people about this constant worry and anxiety, I discovered what a pervasive theme it was in so many people's lives. We are filled with fear and it shapes our thoughts and actions in so many destructive ways.

I write a weekly newsletter and I often ask my readers to let me know what I can help them with and what they are struggling with. Many of their issues revolve around fear and worry, here are some examples of recurring questions:

  • "How can I worry less?"
  • "How can I have less fear in my life?"
  • "How can I stop being scared about everything?"

Whatever the specific issue is, there is this underlying theme of constant stress, uneasiness and mental anguish. The feeling that the rug is going to be pulled out from under us and that we're going to end up completely broke, broken and alone.

'The Work'

One tool that really helped me really look at my worrying and fear came from speaker and author Byron Katie and it's aptly called The Work.

The Work is a way of identifying and questioning your thoughts. It's our thoughts that cause all our fear, worry, anger and other problems.

This tool gives you four simple questions to ask yourself and allows you to experience the happiness of undoing those thoughts. Once you get back to this state of mind, you are more productive, creative and able to actually be of service to people. When you're in fear and worry mode, you are closed off.

Are you ready to get rid of the suffering that is holding you back from fully living your life? Let's do this!

The Four Questions

Think of a situation, person, situation that's really bothering you whether that's something you're really worried about or really scared of or a resentment or whatever it is, this can be applied to basically anything that you're struggling with.

1) Is it true? (Yes or no. If no, move to 3.)

2) Can you absolutely know that it's true? (Yes or no.)

3) How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?

4) Who would you be without the thought?

Let's say that the issue is you think that one of your co-workers is getting credit for work that you do.

This really bothers you and sends you into a worry-loop with thoughts like this at 3pm "Everyone likes them better." Which leads to thoughts like this at 10pm, "I'm going to wind up getting fired because my boss doesn't think I am doing enough." Which inevitably leads to thoughts like this at 3:30am when you can't sleep, "I'm going to go broke and lose my house and be publicly humiliated. My life is over!"

Those thoughts are paralyzing and prevent you from not only performing your job but also from actually enjoying your life. They do you no good and are harmful. So let's walk through how you would use the The Work to free yourself.

1) Is it true?

Is your co-worker getting credit for work that you are doing? You can only answer this with a YES or a NO. So let's say that you decide that yes, they are getting credit for work that you are doing. Okay, now let's move on to the next question.

2) Can you absolutely know that's it's true?

Okay, this is where it gets a little bit harder...

Can you absolutely (that means 100%) know that it's true that they are getting credit for work that you are doing? Again, this is a yes or no.

Personally, this question brings me a lot of relief because many times right here it stops it because most things I don't know if they're absolutely true, pretty much nothing I know it's absolutely true. I have to answer that again, and most times, I have to say "no".

So ask yourself if you can absolutely know if it's true. Answer and then move on to the next question.

3) How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?

What happens when you believe that your co-worker is getting credit for the work you are doing?

  • I don't feel good about myself.
  • I have feelings of anger, hatred and self-pity.
  • I'm envious of my co-worker and wish bad things would happen to him.
  • I feel worried about my own job security.
  • I'm constantly stressed.

As you can see, that one simple thought causes a lot of damage and brings you to a variety of low places every time you believe it.

4) Who would you be without that thought?

Who would you be without that worry, anger, stress and self-pity? Who would you be without this nagging negative thought hanging around your mind all day and zapping your energy? Who would you be without this thing that you worry about before you go to sleep and that is keeping you from sleeping? Who would you be without that thought?

  • I would feel lighter and freer.
  • I would have more peace in my life, more strength, more calmness.
  • My relationships would be better.
  • I could live more in the moment.
  • I could be more present at work and actually do a better job.

When you go through this exercise, you can truly look at the issues that are bothering you and realize that not only are they not doing you any good but they are actually hurting you.

Once you get to that point, you can look at where you can take action and where you just need to let go...