How often have you heard these four words? I have heard them more times than I care to remember.  Do they help? Rarely.  It has such a different tone than Nike’s tag line, “Just Do It!”

If you want me to start questioning myself and my actions, this phrase is a great way to light the fuse.

I immediately react when I hear this phrase. Sometimes it shuts me down, and at other times I am tempted to say what I really think. Why do friends, partners, co-workers and parents assume this phrase will help?  Is it because they don’t know what else to say?  Or, are  they tired of hearing the same old stories? Or, have I worn down their patience to the point they just can’t hear it anymore?

There words sound so familiar. After all, I have the same conversations going on in my head  when I am hurt or angry. If I don’t like hearing it from others, why do I keep hearing it in my mind, over and over again? It taunts me, challenges me, and only occasionally is it helpful. So why do I keep going over it?

Am I hoping that someone else can launch me past my procrastination and fear? Am I living in the past, fearful of going forward and letting go of memories or justifications? Yes, I admit it.  These do apply to me because I often say these words to myself hoping that I can get past my roadblocks.

Its automatic. So much of what we think about is automatic and repetitive. It is how our mind works, particularly when we are trying to self soothe ourselves from fear, sadness, pain and anger. As a wise woman once told me, this repetition is our “well worn path” that can in fact feel reassuring because it is so familiar, even if that path brings repetitive pain and doubts.

Research has indicated that we spend over 5 years worrying during our life, or put another way, one hour and 50 minutes daily (Daily Mail, August 2015.) If you are surprised by that number, please note that it is only an average – there are many of us who fret away many more days and months of worry than that.

Put another way, what do researchers find as our biggest regrets as we look back over our lives.   Close to the top of the list is “I wish I hadn’t worried so much” (Lolly Laskal, Inc. Online, 8/13/15). What is so troubling is that in the moment, we may want to get past our limiting feelings, but just don’t know how. That is when we can hear Just Get Over It. 

Like you, I don’t want to get to the final days of my life with that regret. In my 60’s, I have been learning new ways to calm myself, to grant myself grace, to realize that life isn’t about perfection…it is about learning, sharing and accepting me for what I am, and am not. We now know that career mistakes and relationship failures are the best ways we learn. 

Barbara Corcoran, who built New York City’s largest real estate group and one of the regulars on Television’s Shark Tank series, has a great quote on Failure:  “My best successes have always come on the heels of failure.”

How then, do I move forward?  First, make a list of what calms you, makes you smile and laugh, gets you up and moving. While it may be the last thing you want to do, spend time with friends and family. Walk frequently, preferably with others. Even when you don’t feel that you can move forward, fake it.

Spending time alone is also important during this time. Watch your favorite movies, listen to your favorite music, dance like there is no one watching. Journaling shortly after you wake up functions as a “brain drain” and can actually lift your mood.

Life is about sharing the load, about seeking and offering support from and to others. As Mary Angelou once said, “There is no greater agony than carrying an untold story inside you.” If you have those stories inside you, share those with others you trust.

Becoming more aware of what we are thinking about is one of the keys to changing what we think about.  Mark Twain knew something about worrying. He once said, “I have had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened. “

Share your stories, let people have their opinions, and increase your trust in yourself. After all, when people give you advice, they are only speaking about themselves.