Let’s Look At How To Control Your Worrying
- Thought Stopping – As soon as you notice that a irrational or useless thought as surfaced, try simple thought stopping. Inside your mind say ‘STOP” with conviction to break the train of thought, like a policeman holding up a stop sign, then shift immediately to something more pleasant. Contine to do this to negative thoughts whenever needed.
- Distraction This is a very effective, intuitive and simple technique. The human mind focuses on one thing at a time, it can’t really focus on more than one. So simply distract yourself from worrying and focus on an activity that takes your full attention – listen to itunes, do a big puzzle, play a computer game, anything that takes your attention away from worrying. A book that I have read, “A Man’s Search for Meaning” by Victor Frankel relates that the author coped with concentration camp horrors by holding an image of his wife in his mind.
- Structure and Limit Your Worrying Time By Scheduling It Try the technique of ‘constructive worrying’. Schedule a particular time each day to constructive worrying and put it in your calendar. Limit yourself to 20 or 30 minutes and set a timer to remind yourself when it is time to stop the worrying. During this time write down the issues you are worrying about and work on solving them. At other times of the day if you find yourself spontaneously worrying, stop yourself. Structure it by rescheduling it to your ‘constructive worrying’ time.
- Imagine Talking To A Friend – What would you say to a good friend who had your worries? What would reassure them? Try telling yourself the same things that you imagine you would tell your friend.
- Actually Talk To A Friend – Express your worries by talking with a trusted friend who can give you feedback and a different perspective.
- Estimate The Probability – Chronic worriers worry about several negative things that may never happen. Think about the past, did all those things you worried about actually happen? Focus on the positive probabilities. For example, “In all probability this is a garden variety panic attack and not a heart attack. My heart is healthy and these feeling will probably be over soon”.
- What’s The Probably “Worst Case” Scenario – Think about the probably “worst case consequences of your worry coming true. Ask yourself, “can I deal with that, and can I survive?” If your worries are like most, the answer is “yes”. So the issue is not “would I like it?” but only can I deal with it and can I survive – once you have looked at that, the worry has much less power over you. Even prisoners of war who broke afterwards showed the incredible resiliency of the human spirit to overcome adversity by deeply realizing that even breaking down was OK. It’s human. And being human is OK.
- Consider Other Outcomes – Sit down and write down a list of 3 or 4 outcomes for your worry, being open to the fact some of them may be quite positive. Estimate the probablility of these positive outcomes actually happening. Now look at your actual worry and estimate the probability of it happening. There are other outcomes that may be just as likely.
- Positive Affirmations – Practice making statements that are believable in the first person and saying them to yourself with conviction and repetition. For example: “I can handle this situation and if I make an error I can handle that too”. Practice making positive statements and affirmations about your own strengths and ability to handle events. You can even Google affirmations and find lists or tapes to listen to while falling asleep.
- Visualize Your Success – Use the power of your mind to visualize yourself having great success. See yourself in your “mind’s eye” like in a little movie, proceeding step by step on your way to total success. Put in all the little details to make this visualization as vivid and real as possible.
Instead of assuming a negative thought is true, examine the evidence for it.
Distinguish between the possibility of a thought versus the probability of it. A negative possibility and a positive probability.
Example: There is your positive probability. Then there is the negative possibility like (“What if I can’t pay my bills next month”)
There is always a negative possibility you can’t pay your bills, but it is a very unlikely. Example:
(“It is very unlikely I can’t pay my bills, this is just a feeling, and feelings pass.”)
Now it is your turn. Right down your worry. Reframe it from possibility to probability and write down your reframe. Do this exercise with different worries.
Let’s look at some other things that will help you cope with worrying.