The Worry Solution: 7 Simple Steps to Ensure Your Worries Are Working for You by Stephanie Cannoe
We all worry. In today’s modern culture, which bombards us with information that we can’t possibly process properly in a given day, worrying has become a habit that may be working against us rather than serving the underlying purpose and function it was intended for. As they say, our strengths can become our weaknesses when not in check.
Worrying serves an important role. Solving problems is the healthy aspect of worry, and worrying has been an evolutionary survival skill that has advanced our status as a species. The capability to consider all sides of a situation that demands our immediate attention and to consciously determine the best course of action is a unique ability.
According to Dr. Martin Rossman, author of the The Worry Solution, the human imagination lets us remember the past and mentally experiment with possible futures, so that we can learn from our mistakes. Giving us mobility in time and space to symbolize our thoughts and feelings and draw on our creativity. The other side of the coin is that our imagination is also the source of most of our worry, creating anxiety and stress if we let it get out of control.
To constantly be in a state of unrelieved stress and worry is a significant risk factor for heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, autoimmune disease, fibromyalgia, chronic pain syndromes, irritable bowel syndrome, insomnia, asthma, anxiety disorders and many other illnesses, too many to name. The good news is that there are simple actionable steps you can take to assure that the worry habit is working for you!
Positive worry, according to Dr. Rossman, is a process in which you turn around your futile worries by imagining the best possible outcome instead of the worst. Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? In this way, you are still paying attention to the problem at hand, but using imagery, so that your mind is not empty and open to uninvited thoughts and feelings and you are still thinking about the people, organization or community that you are worried about. The main difference is instead of focusing on and preparing for the negative outcome you don’t want, you learn how to redirect your focus on the outcome you do want.
Before you begin, it's necessary to categorize your worries into those that you can do something about and those you cannot. The steps listed below are for those you listed in the ‘can do something about’ column. However, during this process you may discover that some of the concerns you put in the ‘can’t do anything about’ column you might want to change. If not, then there are other techniques to help you let go of those worries that you cannot control nor do anything about.
- Step One: Clarify your goal or objective. So your creative energy is flowing in the right direction and to clarify, write down your goal and make sure the sentence is clear, including a timeline or deadline.
- Step Two: Generate options. Set a timer for 10 minutes and let your creativity run wild. Write down every idea, no matter how crazy or embarrassing, and try to defer your judgments about your ideas striving for quantity, not quality.
- Step Three: Choose the best option. You’ll need to sort and eliminate the ones that are silly, immoral, unaffordable or impractical. When you’ve identified your best option, circle it and write a new sentence that expresses what you will accomplish.
- Step Four: Affirm your choice. Affirmation is used to build motivation for taking the action steps you have identified.
- Step Five: Make a plan. Now that your direction is clear, write out a plan of action in as much detail as necessary to accomplish your goal.
- Step Six: Rehearse your plan with imagery. Mentally rehearsing the successful execution of your plan is said to be a very powerful way to review its thoroughness, affirm your choice, check for internal resistance and build your motivation for following through.
- Step Seven: Act on your plan. Once you’ve successfully imagined carrying out your plan and having the outcome you desire, it’s time to act!
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