How To Stop Worrying

Thursday, October 30, 2014

I’m a recovering worrier. I have worrying etched into my DNA (thanks Mom) but have focused the past many years on breaking my worrying habit. I blame my Mom for this habit. She knows this. We’ve discussed it. She blames her Dad for her habit. I suppose it’s in my genes but that doesn’t mean it’s permanent!

I grew up with someone who uses worry as a pastime and unfortunately I picked up on it. Worrying is exhausting. It’s wasted energy. I can honestly say that 98% of the time the stuff I worry about never happens. Just imagine if I had used that energy to focus on something else? I’m sure you fellow worriers can relate. The fact is, worrying is simply a bad habit. And, like any bad habit, it can be broken. There are two worrying intervention methods I’ve used that have worked wonders in my life, and in the lives of many of my clients who are also prone to the worry habit.

First, notice when the worrying occurs. Acknowledgement is the first step to changing any behavior. Once you notice it, make a concerted effort to shift your focus. For example, my worrying always seemed to happen first thing in the morning. Sadly enough I’d wake up and the first thing I’d focus on was what there was to worry about that day. It could have been a client issue, business issue, a health challenge for me or a family member, or even the pending bad weather. No matter what it was, chances are it was the first thing on my mind. I made a conscious effort to shift this focus and change the bad habit many years ago. How? Simply by asking myself, upon waking, what I had to be excited about or look forward to that day (instead of what there was to worry about). Doing this repeatedly over a couple of months broke the habit of worrying upon waking. And, it shifted my focus for that day, every day, one day at a time.

The other technique that has worked well for me (and many of my clients) is taking a vacation from worrying. Give it a rest. Allow yourself a day (or heck, why not a week?) of not worrying. When something worrisome comes up, remind yourself you’re taking a vacation from worry so can’t think about that now. You’ll think about it tomorrow, or next week, or whenever your vacation from worrying ends. Whenever I do this I find that miraculously, when the vacation from worrying is over, the thing I was so worked up about has passed. It’s no longer relevant and hardly worrisome.

Worrying is a choice and a bad habit that can be broken. Don’t allow yourself to expend anymore of your precious energy on this! Try these techniques and let us know how they work for you. If you have some of your own worry-stopping ideas, please share them with us – we’d love to hear from you!

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