Have you ever found yourself worrying obsessively about something? Do you feel unable to stop the onslaught of worrisome thoughts that flow into your mind in an attempt to find an insight or answer to your problems?
We have all been there from time to time and sadly discover that going over and over the worries doesn’t actually solve anything, it just makes us feel unhappy. But don’t worry, it’s just a bad habit.
Our thoughts are powerful. Thoughts lead us to feeling good or bad. Worrying is a component of anxiety, it’s part of the human condition. Having anxiety can make us worry, and worrying about things can cause anxiety. Getting suck in the worry-anxiety loop is like trying to find your way out of a maze, you go down one path and arrive at a dead end, so you try another path, and on and on it goes until you end up back where you started.
In order to break the habit of worrying, we need to work with the brain rather than against it. We can do this by taking charge of what happens to the worry thoughts, and interrupt the old brain pattern by using the creative mind and the imagination. The imagination exercise below shows you how approach worries in a constructive and solution focused way, placing a boundary around them and compartmentalising them.
- Put all your worries in a box: Visualise a trunk or a box of some sort with a lock. Place the box in a room in your house that you don’t go into very often. The worries could be represented by images, words, or a list of headings. Lock the box and hide the key.
- Decide to allow yourself to worry as much as you want to, once a day, for around 10 minutes.
- Choose a time that’s not first thing in the morning, or last thing at night. Let’s say your chosen worry time is 4pm – 4.10pm.
- At the chosen time, imagine that you are going to the room, opening the box and taking out the worries to review them.
- In this ten minute slot you should only worry – do nothing else, don’t eat, don’t drink, don’t look at your phone, don’t do anything except worry and problem solve. Go over each worry in turn and convert it into a problem with parts, break them down into solution steps.
- Separate the things that you can control from the things that you cannot control. Decide to let go of the things you cannot control because it is pointless and a waste of time and energy. Throw them into an incinerator and watch them burn, or just imagine them dissolving.
- Of the things you can control, think of one thing you can do to improve the situation, and make it better for yourself – commit to taking one small action step and ensure you do it. Write the action step in your diary/calendar or do it straight away.
- At the end of your worry time, close the box, notice there are less items in there, now that you have sorted a few things out. Lock the box again and hide the key.
- If you find yourself worrying at other times of the day, say to yourself – “I’ll worry about that at Worry Time” and imagine putting that particular worry in the box and closing the lid, walking out of the room and closing the door.
- Worry again the next day at Worry Time. Do this every day for a week and soon your brain will get the idea that you control the worries and you decide when to worry and when to let go of worries.
A funny thing happens sometimes, when it comes to worry time, you realise you have nothing to worry about!
Most people say that in hindsight, there was no need to worry after all.
If you need help with anxiety or worry, feel free get in touch for a free consultation. I offer a no-obligation chat to see if what I do can help you. Hypnotherapy/BWRT are great tools to empower your mind and give you peace of mind.
Mary Bowmer – September 2021