How to Deal with Worries | Worry Free Me
I would like to share my personal development path - how I become worry free.
When I was studying for my Holistic Stress management consultant Diploma course I was asked to select a stress related problem from my own life, apply all the techniques introduced and report on the results.
My stress inducing problem I choose were worries.
I hope you can get some insights and useful stress and worry management techniques for yourself.
My story of worries
Although worries are a natural characteristic of human nature, for me it is the”daily bread”, the natural state of mind.
In my first essay at my Holistic Stress management course course I wrote that I was permanently anxious and felt worthless, that my mind “naturally” focused on my fear and I worried about everything – money, health, mine, my child’s and my parent’s and in most cases expected worse.
During the course I found out that my worries are one of my cognitive (thinking) responses to stress. Being chronically worried, affected me in extremely negative way: the worries repeated, went on all the time, in a never-ending circle. Cyclic worries lead to a serious wreck of the nervous system and the immune system, feeling of loneliness and isolation as a result of not being able to built relationships. It was this way before my stress management course.
My stress management studies helped me to become familiar with the cognitive therapy, time management, worry control, assertiveness issues and problem solving methods and soon I was able monitor the results.
The first conclusion is that these methods work perfectly. The second one - that it is difficult to point out and divide the techniques used because in my opinion they are compatible: like the bricks - when use them all they make a solid base.
The only ‘minus’ is that I should remind myself about them time to time, because they are still not automatic and “my old nature” is still very strong. I need to be patient, but persistent. The results can be reached only with practicing and repeating.
Worries arrive subconsciously, but manifest in the conscious form. They do not resolve the situation, and first of all I should have the want to stop my worries. It is an active not passive process, and nobody from the outside can’t help us substantially.
The first thing I started with, was recognizing the worries. It is important because they have become such a part of myself that when sometimes I feel bad and wind up, but I did not even know the reason. I had to be aware of my worthless thoughts. Most of my worries were provoked by the thoughts like - I am less worth then others or this is not for me.
Using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) methods I could look at my mistaken presumption and find out that it is not the truth. The behavioral aspect of the CBT therapy methods helps me to weaken the connections between troublesome stress inducing situations and my habitual reactions to them. The behavior is determined not by the concrete situation but by the interpretation of the situation.
I can’t change the situation but I can change my interpretation of it. When I started practicing changing my ‘natural’ interpretation of situations, I got good results. They taught me how to calm my mind and body, so I could feel better and make better decisions. I used to be hypersensitive, react with anger and hostility to any phrase, which I considered endangering to my person. I worked to change it, and I succeeded.
I have also found out that becoming aggressive and defensive is not that only and definitely not the best behavior; so before turning back into my habitual track I learned to reflect and act in a much more adequate and calmer manner. It helps me to avoid ‘post action worries’: for example, why I did this or what they are going to think about me.
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Practicing the cognitive aspect of the CBT I have changed my interpretation of my thoughts and have developed my self-confidence. I changed the way I think and consequently I can change the way we feel. Many bad feelings came from illogical thoughts, like from the negative automatic thoughts.
A reasonable amount of my worries are directly connected with NATS (negative automatic thoughts), and in this case I replace the negative thoughts with positive ones.
For years I usually automatically picked up the worst outcome, and I presumed that it takes time for positive thoughts to become automatic.
Additionally to that I remind myself, that according the neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), my “map” – the interpretation of the situation, is different from the “map” of my interlocutor, and this also helps to look at the things with more tolerance, patience and less worries.
I also apply the NLP logical levels to the situation, which provoked my defensiveness and hostility and helped me understand that my problem is still in the identity level – I am a worthless person. It seems that with changing my behavior (accepting others ‘maps’) or the environment (avoid people who add to my worries) it is not enough, because my worries and reactions return. I do reframing, which allowed me to look at the source of my worries from a different standpoint.
We all have only a definite amount of energy; this amount is limited and is a very valuable resource. This valuable resource is wasted during the process of worries.
To conserve my energy and use it in much better way I ask myself a question – do I really want to spend my valuable recourse (energy) on this insignificant effect I am worrying about, is this really worth my energy?
Now I can recognize my worries in the very beginning stage. I control my thoughts and not let the worries take control over me. To deal with worries I analyze my thinking, avoided such affirmations “It is awful”, “I cannot do this”. I stopped those thoughts by asking myself – is my thinking logic?
I ask – where is my belief getting me? Does this help me to achieve my goals? I used to think in the terms of “awfulness”, which only alleviated the level of my worries and increased the level of anxiety.
When I started to put my worries in a reasonable perspective – “ 100 years principle”- I found out that many things I worry today will not be important after a period of time. In this case, only reasonable action is going to stop worries.
I found out that some behavioral strategies: as social support – talking with friends or relatives and make new friends or do a voluntary job can help a lot.
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I also find it useful to apply the time management methods to deal with my worries.
I tend to procrastinate: answering letters and doing necessary phone calls and of course this add a reasonable amount of worries.
When I learned about the principles of time management I started to deal with tasks and documents in the order they arrive and did not put them away; dealt with them immediately, in this way avoiding wasting time and energy by returning to them. This reduced stress, and I feel relaxed.
I also worried about the future and spent time for setting long–term and short-term goals. It makes me feel thrilled fulfilling them and adds energy instead of wasting it, as it was when I worry and did not do anything.
I had a feeling of guilt and a lack of assertiveness, thinking that I have to be available and to agree with everything to be loved. I practiced to cut off ‘musts’ and ‘shoulds’ as well as stopped feeling guilty.
Now I am learning to say ’no ‘ to the people and tasks, which I do not consider important for myself. I do not feel unnecessary and unreasonable guilt and this lets me feel freer. I start to act as an assertive person and can affirm that it makes life much easier when I should not worry to please others.
I act according to my goal priority list, spend time doing those things I value and which approximate to my goals.
Time to time my worries wake me up during the night, and I can confirm that the method – “this is not the time to think about this” helps me to calm down and asleep.
During the day, when I worry about small things, like why somebody is not calling me, with all cascade of manifestations and the “traditional final” – I am not worth to be called, I find useful to start doing something, like preparing some tea or cleaning the house.
It is important to take an active part into ceasing the worries and critically rethink the presumptions – “ is this what I am worrying about going to really happen”?
It is not easy to change habits and to add new ones. The best reward is a calm state of mind, better-organized life and much less unreasonable stress.
I still worry of course. But I also have learned to stop them in the beginning and turn my mind to the constructive things. I know I should not be perfect because, but do the best what I can in each situation.
It is good to understand and remind myself, that if it took years to live with my worries I have to be careful and patient with myself not to imagine changing my attitude in short time.
Be gentle and patient with yourself. Always!!!
About the Author
Dr.Inese Millere , M.D. is lifestyle coach in holistic stress management and mindful eating for busy women after 40 who want to be Fit, Balanced and Ageless: to manage stress, stress eating, have a healthy and joyful relationship with food and enjoy healthy living and longevity. Learn more at www.inesemillere.com