“Chronic worry functions like a parasite, increasingly getting the host—that’s you!—to spend time and energy on producing and maintaining worry, rather than pursuing the hopes and dreams you have for your own life. Your life becomes more about worry and less about your work, your relationships, your fun, your intellect—everything that makes life worthwhile.”
~ Dr David Carbonell
I’ve just finished reading an interesting and informative book: The Worry Trick by Dr David Carbonell. The book contains some excellent techniques that I’ve added to my Anxiety Freedom Coaching toolkit.
I’m going to share one of those techniques with you today. It’s a variation on a technique I’ve had in my toolkit for some time. Before I share the technique, let’s first take a quick look at what worry is, why we engage in it and why chronic worry is a problem.
What is worry?
Worry is a form of habitual thinking whereby people regularly think a thought or related thoughts over and over again without finding an answer or some way forward. Worry mainly focuses on things in the present or future going wrong or turning out badly, or apprehension about harm occurring. This chain of thoughts seems unstoppable, and because such thoughts or mental images tend to be negative they arouse anxiety.
Why do we worry?
People keep going over and over these thoughts or images because they believe doing so will help them find an answer to their problem, or that worrying about something bad taking place will actually stop it from happening. However, worries and the beliefs that we may have about worrying, such as it being helpful or harmful, are for the most part unfounded.
The fact is that worrying about events that we may have little or no control over does nothing to change the likelihood of such an event taking place.
The problem with worrying
Everybody worries to some extent. For many people, worry may come and go and not be problematic. However, for some people worrying may be frequent or continue for extended periods of time, completely hijacking their thinking.
Worry, because of its focus on the negative, arouses anxiety which in turn causes us to experience stress. Some of the physical symptoms of stress, which we associate with worry are: feeling restless, an increased heartbeat, butterflies in the stomach, nausea, difficulty concentrating. Chronic worry leads to systematic changes in the way you think and behave. Plus, it leads us to spend more and more time "in our head," in our internal world, trying to get our thoughts arranged the way we think they should be, always struggling and fussing with worry rather than getting out into our external world and living the fulfilling, happy life we desire to live.
Set Up Appointments with Yourself to Worry
The exercise I'm sharing with you today is called "Set Up an Appointment with Yourself to Worry."
Worry time is the time you set aside each day exclusively for worrying. This idea may seem strange, because it runs counter to our usual instincts but our attempts to avoid, dismiss or oppose our worrying thoughts just gives them more energy, it's like we're pouring fuel onto a fire.
Setting time aside each day to dedicate to worrying, is not a new idea. Many therapies, experts and books on the subject of anxiety management recommend that we set aside time each day to devote to worrying. However, in The Worry Trick, Carbonell describes how to make these worry times much more effective.
Here's an overview of the steps involved.
- Schedule at least one, ten minute, appointment with worry each day.
- Postpone any worries you have prior to your next worry appointment until that appointment.
- Make a list of your worries ahead of time, so you have an agenda.
- During "worry time" worry out loud, in front of a mirror. [This is the key to the success of this exercise]
- During "worry time", devote your full attention to worrying.
- Spend the full ten minutes worrying about whatever items you usually worry about.
The full instructions for the exercise can be found here.
The immediate benefit of committing to this exercise is the ability to postpone worry. Many people find that this enables them to sweep large portions of their day relatively clear of worry. However, it only works if you actually do the worry periods as prescribed. If you try to postpone worries, knowing that you probably won't actually show up for the worry appointments, the postponing probably won't work for you.
An even bigger benefit is that regular use of worry appointments will help in changing your automatic responses to chronic worry, and help you take the content of the worrisome thoughts less seriously.
I encourage you to start using this wonderful exercise, and once you've practiced it for a week or two, why not send me an email to let me know what changes/benefits you've experienced.
If you would like to explore some of the ways in which you can benefit from working with me to help you reduce your worry, anxiety and stress, call me now on 021 056 8389 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tony Yuile is a well-being and success coach based in Wellington NZ. He is hired by people who want to be healthy, happy and successful. Tony's particular area of expertise is in helping people perform under pressure, reduce anxiety and manage stress. Tony’s solution focused approach to coaching uses a range of techniques drawn from the fields of co-active coaching, hypnosis, positive psychology and neuro-linguistic programming (NLP).
Contact Tony today to discuss how he can help you, or if you think Tony could help someone you know, you might like to encourage them to get in touch with him.