What is Worry?
Think of worry as painful, unproductive, repetitive thoughts. Ruminations. Spinning thoughts spiraling downward, deeper and deeper into the worry vortex.
Restlessness, anxiety or fear well up.
A powerful urge or desire to address, fix, or change a situation or problem demands to be answered. You’re eger to take action. Anything to relieve the discomfort.
You call your friends, family, colleagues, whomever you think can help remedy the problem.
Escalating frustration over your inability to address, fix or change the situation feels overwhelming.
You’re laser focused on what’s happening right now, or what might happen, although there aren’t any immediate threats, or past events that still haunt you. Or everything, all at once.
Imagining the worst possible outcomes provides a one-way ticket to headache and heartache. Nightmare scenarios unfold and torment you way too often.
Help! I want my hijacked brain back right now!
Worry distracts you from coping effectively with your daily responsibilities.
Worry is exhausting and debilitating. You pray for release from its vise-like grip.
You plead, “When will life get back to normal? ” Or you wonder, ” Is this your new normal?”
Name Your Worry
Grab a pen and paper and write down answers to these questions:
- State the problem?
- What’s the fear?
- Is the problem real? Be honest!
- Is the problem happening now?
- Might it happen later?
- Is it possible that it might never happen?
Corral Your Worry & Short Circuit the Pattern
Once you’ve answered the questions, you’ll need to practice strategies that disconnect the panicky feeling of anxiety from the problem itself. When you think about the troubling issue, try reconnect it to these behaviors instead:
Practice “7/11 Breathing” to calm your nervous system.
- Take a breath in (to the quick count of 7 in your mind).
- Then slowly breathe out (to the quick count of 11 in your mind).
- Just make sure that the out-breath is longer than the in-breath.
- Take several deep cleansing breaths. Repeat as needed.
Schedule time to worry.
- Pick a time and allow yourself 15 minutes to worry.
- Set your alarm on your phone to either alert you that it’s time to either begin or stop the worry session.
- Give in to it.
- Take notes.
Imagine scenarios where you feel calm, relaxed and unhurried.
- There you are. Lounging on the beach in the warm sun, dining at your favorite restaurant, tromping through the woods, embraced by Mother Nature.
- Let these images create feelings of calm and peace. Let these feelings overwrite anxiety or fear
- When we become very anxious, it’s harder to think clearly. But if we force ourselves to use parts of the pre-frontal cortex, “the thinking brain”, this can dilute the emotion and begin the calming process.
Rate your level of worry, fear or anxiety.
- The easiest way to do this is by rating your level of fear, anxiety or worry on a numerical scale.
- Rate your own fear from 1 to 10, 10 being the most upset and 1 being the most relaxed state.
- When you’re feeling anxious, ask yourself: ” What number on the scale am I right now? Am I a 7, or a 5?”
- Just pausing to do this exercise can lower your anxiety because it kick-starts the “thinking brain,” diluting the rampant emotions.
Tell a different story. Create a mental image of yourself as calm, cool, and collected.
- Imagine that all is going well, even better than expected.
- Create new thoughts that tell a different story. One without threat or danger.
- Visualize yourself smiling and cheerful.
- Changing your mental picture starts to recondition your mind to feel more positive and less reactive to the overwhelm of worry.
Quotes to Inspire You to Think Twice About the Value of Worrying
Here are some of my favorite inspiring quotes to help you release the grip of worry. Think of these as the seeds to help you develop new thoughts to tell a different story about worry.
“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength. Corrie ten Boom
“If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it’s not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.” Dalai Lama XIV
“Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.” Marcus Aurelius
“Do not anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight.” Benjamin Franklin
“Instead of fretting about getting everything done, why not simply accept that being alive means having things to do? Then drop into full engagement with whatever you’re doing, and let the worry go.” Martha Beck
“In Europe, people don’t worry about the body.” Paz Vega
“We would worry less if we praised more. Thanksgiving is the enemy of discontent and dissatisfaction.” Henry A. Ironside
How might worry, ruminations or spinning thoughts be holding you back from enjoying your marriage or stepfamily?
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