How to stop worrying

  1. Recognise ‘worry’ for what it is
    • Our brains warn us if it is sensing a threat. That’s fine. That’s useful. And normal.
    • Repeatedly focusing on that warning and playing it over and over in your head is not useful.
    • These are thoughts coming into your head. You can choose what to do with these thoughts

  2. Identify the real cause of your worry
    • Your worry is likely to be caused by one of the following (or both):
      • You have no control over the situation so are using worry as a way to trick yourself into believing you do
      • You are scared of a feeling you think will come up for you if the thing you are worrying about happens

  3. Process the emotions that come up for you. Lets look at those two causes in turn (although they are really very similar):
  • You have no control.
    • Allow yourself to acknowledge and accept that you do not have control. What does that feel like for you?
    • Process the feelings that come up when you acknowledge you have no control.
    • Sit with those emotions, be curious about them, be compassionate and tender instead of trying to fight them
    • Remember feelings can’t hurt you, they do not last. Let them pass
    • Consider: Is there anything you do have control over that you could do instead?
  • You are scared of the emotion you will feel if the thing you are worried about happens
    • Identify the feeling you are trying to avoid (use an emotion wheel if necessary). Choose one word feelings, such as ‘disappointment’, ‘shame’, ‘anger’ rather than descriptive statements such as “I will feel like I should have done better’ – really focus on the EXACT emotion.
    • Sit with those emotions, be curious about them, be compassionate and tender instead of trying to fight them
    • Remember feelings can’t hurt you, they do not last. Let them pass
  1. Disrupt the worry
    • If the thoughts come back you can do a little trick to disrupt them- say to your brain “thank you for warning me, I really appreciate it. But I’m ok, I’ve got this covered”
    • Be playful and non-judgemental. Perhaps try different disrupters such as “Hi brain, I hear you, but I’ve got a lot of work to do today, so I’m going to concentrate on that right now instead.”
    • See Russ Harries on my resources page for more ideas

Case Study 1

I keep worrying that my daughter is going to fail her GCSEs. I can’t stop thinking about it.

  1. I admit to myself this is out of my control
  2. This makes me feel helpless and anxious
  3. I sit with those emotions, feel them in my body and acknowledge them, in a compassionate way
  4. I think about what I do have control over: I can make sure my daughter knows I love her. I can look after my daughter in other ways.
  5. When the worry comes back I say “thanks brain, but I can’t do anything about that now, so instead I’m going to give my daughter a big hug and get on with my day”

Case Study 2

I have an important meeting tomorrow, but I don’t think anyone is going to turn up. I can’t stop thinking about it

  1. I identify the feeling I’m trying to avoid: Disappointment. If no-one turns up that’s how I’ll feel. That’s what I’m avoiding thinking about
  2. I sit with the feeling of disappointment. I feel it in my body.
  3. I remember feelings can’t last forever, they will pass.
  4. I acknowledge that if the worst than can happen is a feeling, I know I can cope, it’s all going to be ok
  5. When the worry comes back I say “Thanks for the warning, but I know I can cope with disappointment if it comes, so I’m good, I’ve got this!”

If this resonates with you and you would like to explore how you can manage your worry better get in touch!

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