05/19/2014 04:30 pm ET Updated Jul 19, 2014

Outsmarting Stress and Negativity

ONOKY - Eric Audras via Getty Images

A number of months ago, I had the good fortune of traveling to India with my family. I wasn't so keen on taking this trip, fearing that I'd get depressed from seeing the country's massive poverty. Having read many novels written by Indian authors, I was primed to witness people living in conditions that I'd never before set eyes on.

For a number of months, I had a nagging sense of worry that got me feeling way more stressed than I wanted to be. The Inner Worrier would beckon me from out of the blue, telling me to worry about how I was going to feel while in India. It got me doubting whether I would feel OK or not -- and got me squirming rather than getting excited.

Clearly, I didn't want to experience my stress response. It wasn't really fun. I didn't know what to do about it other than talk back. So that's precisely what I did. Out loud, I spoke words aimed at questioning the credibility of the negative attitudes and predictions. I kept speaking out loud, doubting the authoritative voice from within that presumes it knows, despite not at all knowing. I worked with my Inner Worrier, noting when she got activated, what triggered her and what I needed to say back in order to get me in the driver's seat rather than her.

Ironically, my weeks in India were magical. Yes, there was filth and sanitary challenges, but there was so much more than that. I never once felt anxious. For real! I was amazed at that, over and over and over again. My body remained calm as we ventured into villages and cities, rode both a rickshaw and an elephant and explored the vast Hindu culture. None of the things I had feared came to fruition. I certainly saw poverty, but it didn't overwhelm my ability to appreciate the culture around it.

What's the lesson in all of this? There are many. First and foremost, do not believe that your Inner Worrier is the voice of truth. It's simply the voice of fear. Secondly, know that stress is an inevitable part of living life. Work with it, find your way to getting yourself in the driver's seat rather than allowing the worry and doubt to steer your vehicle. And lastly, use your voice to speak out loud and talk back in order to outsmart your stress and negativity.

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