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Managing Worry Thoughts

July 5th, 2011 / Coping Skills/ Meditation /

I think many people struggle with managing worry thoughts.  It’s more common than we think.  I know this because I have seen it time and time again in my office.  Worry thoughts can create internal pain, because you’re the only one that knows what’s going on in your head.  You chose to live with it alone.

Some people will express their worry thoughts with their friends.  This can give temporary relief.  However, you probably worry about overwhelming your friends.  It can also feel embarrassing, so you might censor yourself.  You’re probably right, after awhile your friend will get overwhelmed with your anxiety.  You leave no room for the relationship.  You’re still left with the thoughts and your anxiety.

So the million dollar question…what do you do?

Fist of all, you need to chose individuals you can share with that aren’t your friends.  I think it is important to share with your friends and partners to a certain extent.  There has to be a point where you don’t overwhelm them.  Choosing someone who you can share with means you must open yourself to another person.  This means you have to learn how to trust.  For many of us this is a difficult thing to do, for valid reasons.  You may have been abandoned or had a family dynamic that confirmed that trusting or depending on others isn’t possible.  You got to get over it, easier said then done.

You can start by speaking to a therapist, spiritual counselor or coach.  Someone who is trained to be a great listener and who will help you see things in a different way.  Often our worry thoughts are created from irrational thinking or a distorted perspective. It’s helpful to have someone else look at the situation from different a lense.  It’s also important to feel validated by someone who understands why you would feel the way you do.

There are also tools you can practice outside of talking to someone.  I’ve listed a few:

-Listen to music–every time a thought comes up notice and return to the sounds of the music

-Dancing–dance in your house and let it go

-Play devils advocate–okay…what’s the worse thing that could happen

-Ask yourself is the other person worrying about you, just as much as you are worrying about them

-Remember a time from your childhood where you felt exactly how you feel right now.  What childhood script is playing out?  Can you identify and journal about it?

-Meditate–focus on your breathe and nothing else

-Take a walk, jog or hike

-Pray and let go to a higher power

-Write 25 positive affirmations about the situation

-Opposite the emotion–do exactly the opposite of what you feel

-Ask yourself what lesson are you to learn

-Failure is to be human–there are no mistakes

-Journal

-Half smile

-Watch a comedy

-Call a random person in program (if you’re in the 12-step program) or attend a meeting and fellowship with someone

-Allow yourself a specific time of the day to worry for 30 minutes, instead of worrying 6 – 8 hours a day

-See the thoughts enter your mind and allow them to glide away like a cloud or slide away like Teflon

-Take a walk and count steps

-Watch a candle, every time a thought enters return your attention to the candle

-Take a mini vacation–go walk on the beach and take a picnic (that’s if you live in sunny California)

I’d love to hear from you.  Let me know what skills have worked for you in the past to let go of worry thoughts.  Remember, worry thoughts may serve a purpose (otherwise you wouldn’t participate in them).  Find out what that purpose is.  They may help you reinforce your old negative core beliefs about yourself or keep others away from you.  What purpose do they serve for you?

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