Last week’s BlArticle™ about worry received more comments than any other I’ve ever written, so let’s stay on this topic for one more week. There were a lot of takes on how different people deal with worry, but there is one comment that really stuck in my mind:
“Perhaps in a future blog, (meant “BlArticle™”) you can take this one step further and suggest systematic steps to STOP the process of worrying. I know you can’t be expected to know EVERYTHING, but if you can share how you stop your mind from going over to the “worry” side, I’d love to hear it!”
I like a good challenge, so I’m going to give you one man’s, systematic approach to stop the mind from worrying. It’s my own crude system, but it works for me, and it has worked for others I have talked to. It involves “Positive Thinking – Positive Habits – Positive Results” and here’s how it goes…
The process of worrying can really be defined as – the process of moving to the negative. In other words, when we begin to worry, we aren’t worrying about what is going to go right, but what is going to go wrong. The more we worry, the easier it is to look at the negatives. Soon we are immersed in worry, and often, unconsciously, we see everything that crosses our path as negative. For instance, look at these three examples:
• The economy is sluggish, at best.
• Property values keep dropping.
• The last three client meetings resulted in no sales.
Can’t argue with those three. Once those thoughts cross our mind, we can move in one of two directions. The first and easiest direction is to worry, and here comes the “What if’s…”
• The economy is sluggish at best. “What if it gets worse?”
• Property values keep dropping. “What if I can’t sell my house?”
• The last three client meetings resulted in no sales. “What if I’ve lost my touch?”
Speaking of “what if’s,” what if you forced your mind to think of something positive instead? I know you may be shouting at your computer screen and saying, “Rob is out to lunch on this one!” but stay with me. The recent loss of my father was one of the most devastating experiences I have ever had to endure. I grieved then and I grieve now, but I am also delivering the best seminars I have given in 25 years because I choose to believe that my father is witnessing my work and that inspires me.
Is it somehow irresponsible to think of a positive way of looking at a problem? Will this jinx us in some way? Will it somehow protect us by worrying about an outcome we frequently can’t control? Why can’t we train our minds to look at potential worries in a different way?
• The economy is sluggish at best. “It sure beats 2009!”
• Property values keep dropping. “Not only am I saving on property taxes, but if I do choose to move, I’ll simply make it up on my purchase!”
• The last three client meetings resulted in no sales. “I’m overdue and much closer to my next sale!”
It’s not easy to train your minds to think this way. Practice. Pick up the newspaper and look at the front page. Read the headline of every article. Pause, and ask yourself if there is a positive way of looking at each headline:
• Osama bin Laden has been killed. “Oh, no. There may be retaliation.” Negative.
• Osama bin Laden has been killed. “With the spread of democracy taking hold in the Middle East, this could be a pivotal and constructive moment in history.” Positive.
I want to apologize to every therapist who reads this quirky little BlArticle™ and recognizes that often it isn’t quite this easy. I also recognize that in certain situations, we need to prepare for contingency plans and consider all scenarios. The act of considering all scenarios ironically reduces worry as well.
Forcing the mind to consider the positives takes practice. However, I can tell you that with practice, it not only becomes a habit, it will produce positive results. The mind begins to naturally roll out positive scenarios to various situations, and with that, it reduces worry. Don’t believe me? Take my mantra of “Positive Thinking, Positive Habits, Positive Results” with you for the next week. Every time a worry crosses your mind, try turning to the positive. If you need help, pick up a newspaper and you’ll find plenty of material to practice with.