Put a Stop To Your Worrying Mind Whether itís you or your spouse, a worrying mind may affect your relationship more than you think. Follow a few simple steps and put the worries to rest. BY DR. NEIL FIORE
Self assurance will help you ease your worries.
Why do I keep worrying about things l canít control.
All of us have a voice inside our head that asks, "But what if the thing I most fear happens?" That nagging voice can wake you at 3 a.m.óworrying about things you donít control and canít fix. Here are some things you can do to quiet the worrying part of your mind and actually use it to help resolve potential problems.
Your worrying mind is just doing its job of warning you about possible problems you havenít planned for. Your mental and physical warning processes are sensitive to any messages of possible danger to your life and your sense of worth. Fever, for example, is a sign that your body is dealing with a flu or an infection. It doesnít mean you should panic and worry that your body is out of control.
If youíre in the habit of telling yourself that you will hate yourself if you donít get what you want, an alarm is set in your brain to warn you when thereís danger of this negative event happening. The protective, survival functions of your brain sets an alarm whenever you threaten or scare yourself about something you think is dangerous. Worry is an alarm that asks:
"Whatís the plan for avoiding this situation? Are you going to beat yourself up again and cause more anxiety and depression? Is it safe for me to reside inside your head?Ē
The usual form of this worry is, "What if this happens?"
What you can do to quiet that voice and make it work for you.
Answer all, "What if . . ." voices with, "This is what we will do if that happens." That is, donít try to ignore the worry just because it seems irrational or has a low chance of occurring. Our fears are seldom about what is reasonable. While some therapies tell you to argue or debate with irrational fears, I have found it more effective to honor the concern and offer a plan for survival and the maintenance of self-worth.
Think about what you would do if a negative event occurred. Face it. Take a few minutes to imagine your usual responses and how you will recover from panic, feeling overwhelmed and self-criticism. Know whom you might call for help. Make a plan that prepares your brain with the neural connections to shift from fear to effective action.
Even better, practice using a "generic plan" of giving yourself unconditional acceptance regardless of what happens. Do this every day to lower stress and anxiety and have it in place before a dangerous situation happens. Be prepared to calm your mind and body by saying to yourself, "Regardless of what happens, I will not make you feel bad. I will not abandon you. You and your worth are safe with me."
Imagine that youíre holding a frightened or sick infant over your heart. Lightly pat yourself as if youíre patting that infant on the back saying, "Yes, yes, Iím here. Youíre not alone. I can accept you even when youíre scared and sick. I will never abandon you."
Dr. Neil Fiore is a psychologist practicing in Berkeley, CA, a coach, a speaker, and author of Awaken Your Strongest Self: Break Free of Stress, Inner Conflict, and Self-Sabotage [McGraw-Hill, 2006]. His bestselling guide to overcoming procrastination, The Now Habit [Putnam, 2007], is revised and available at iTunes under "Audio books," and at www.audible.com. You can find Dr. Fiore's "Free Articles & Tips" at www.neilfiore.com. and a copy of Regardless Affirmations at neilfiore.blogspot.com.