How to Master Worry

Having a miserable week is easy; just do these five things each day: worry a lot, focus on getting rich, compare yourself to others, cling to unrealistic expectations, and be 10 minutes late everywhere you go. Seriously, who wants that? But it’s easy for one bad choice to lead to another; adding up to a rotten week.

Instead, do the opposite of the above list: don’t waste your time on worry focus on relationships, don’t compare yourself to others, have realistic expectations, and be on time everywhere you go (that may be the most difficult!).

Is worry your particular problem? Here are ten things you can do to conquer the worry habit.

1. Face your worries and admit them when they occur.Don’t run from them for they will return to haunt you. Don’t worry about worrying. That just reinforces and perpetuates the problem.

2. Itemize your worries and anxieties on a sheet of paper.Be specific and complete as you describe them. Keep track of when each one occurs during the day.

3. Write down the reasons or causes for your worry. Investigate the sources. Is there any possibility that you can eliminate the source or cause of your worry? Have you tried? What have you tried specifically?

4. Write down the amount of time you spend each day worrying.

5. Make another list.Note (a) the way your worrying has prevented a feared situation from occurring; (b) the way worrying has increased the problem.

6. Try to eliminate any sources of irritation if you are nervous or jumpy.Stay away from them until you learn how to react differently. For example, if troubling world events worry you, don’t watch so many newscasts. Use that time to relax by reading, working in the garden, or riding a bike for several miles. Avoid rushing yourself. If you worry about being late, plan to arrive at a destination early. Give yourself more time.

7. Avoid any type of fatigue—physical, emotional or intellectual.When you are fatigued, worrisome difficulties can loom out of proportion.

8. When you start to worry, ask yourself: “Is this something for me to worry over?” In other words, is this something that really pertains to you and your life, or does it properly belong to someone else? Remember that your fears or worries often may be disguised fears of what others think of you.

9. When a problem arises, face it and decide what you can do about it. Make a list of all the possible solutions and decide which you think is the best one. If these are minor decisions, make them fairly quickly. Take more time for major decisions.

10. A worrier usually says, “I go over and over these problems and can’t decide which approach is best.” Look at the facts, then make yourself decide. After you have made your decision, don’t question or worry about your choice. Otherwise the worrying pattern erupts all over again. Practice this new pattern of making decisions.