Do you spend too much time thinking about the things you wish you could change, but really can’t? Would you like to change your negative thoughts to positive ones? Try the “No-Worries Exercise!”
Our Worries Are Caused by Negative Beliefs
Most of our worries are driven by negative beliefs. For instance, the belief, If I want to be liked, I must look good, produces worries about one’s appearance and behavior. Other examples include: * I’ll never have enough money. (Worry about finances and security.) * I always sabotage my success. (Worry about not being good enough) * Relationships just don’t work for me. (Worry about never having a happy marriage.) * We could all be happy if only Dad would stop drinking. (Worry about Dad’s disruption of the family.)
Although such “whispered lies” are often about ourselves, they also can focus on our children, spouses, friends, or relatives; for instance, the last example about the father’s drinking. Other distressing beliefs involve institutions, as in If the government would just change this policy, we’d all be better off (Worry about politics and security).
Such negative beliefs sap our energy and keep us spinning in circles, as we repeat the same old dysfunctional patterns and blame the world for our unhappiness.
Here’s the good news for all of us: Even though we don’t have the power to change most things that bother us, we DO have control over what we think. As we change our thoughts from negative to positive, our world changes accordingly. The No-Worries Exercise will help you do this.
The No-Worries Exercise
In this exercise, you’ll identify your worries and their consequences. Then you’ll imagine your life without these negative effects, set a goal, and choose specific tools to change your thinking. Begin by reading the three examples below. The first is one of my own worries; the second and third examples concern other common situations. Then, follow the directions at the bottom.
Gigi’s Worry: I’m never going to finish this book!
- My thoughts, beliefs, or feelings: It will never be good enough. It’s just too much work!
- Consequences of holding these thoughts, beliefs, or feelings: I am tense and preoccupied when I think I should be writing, so I rush through other activities without really enjoying them. I compare myself with other authors and feel even worse.
- If I could grow beyond this worry, what would my life be like? I could relax and enjoy myself when I’m not writing. I could be more compassionate with myself and accept that writing a book is not smooth or easy for anyone.
- Goal: I trust that the book is on just the right schedule, and I release my attachment to it being completed by a particular date. Tools: Affirmations, Golden Key, Tapping.
Second Worry: I’m afraid to go to my high school reunion.
- Thoughts, beliefs, or feelings: I’m depressed because I’m too fat. People will criticize me.
- Consequences of holding these thoughts, beliefs, or feelings: I’m eating to ease my stress. If I don’t go, I’ll feel terrible about missing everything.
- If I could grow beyond this worry, what would my life be like? I could relax and enjoy my friends without feeling self-conscious.
- Goal: I am comfortable with my weight and eat only when hungry. Tools: Therapy, meditation, Weight Watchers.
Third Worry: I’m concerned my adult son may have had a relapse.
- Thoughts, beliefs, or feelings: I’m terrified and I have no idea what to do. I could never go on if something bad happened to him.
- Consequences of holding these thoughts, beliefs, or feelings: I’m so worried. I’m just stuck. I can’t enjoy anything. I’m numbing myself out with overwork.
- If I could grow beyond this worry, what would my life be like? I would trust that I will be okay, regardless of the outcome. I could enjoy my life again.
- Goal: I enjoy my own life and accept my son’s choices without judgement . Tools: AlAnon meetings, read “Codependent No More,” meditate daily. (Therapy?)
Directions: No-Worries Exercise
After reading the examples, think about a situation that’s troubling you. To get the juices flowing, you might write or draw in your journal, or talk about it with a trusted friend. On a piece of paper, write your answers to questions 1-4. Then go into action to with your worry-dissolving tools.
- Select one worry for this exercise, and write your own thoughts, beliefs, or feelings about it.
- Underneath it, describe how this worry and its associated beliefs have caused trouble for you or your loved ones.
- If you could grow beyond this worry, what would your life be like? How would it look and feel?
- Set a goal for releasing this pattern of worry and list 2-3 tools from Worry Less Now (or elsewhere) to help you overcome your negative thinking.
After you complete the No-Worries Exercise, pat yourself on the back for taking the first steps toward freedom from your worries. Now, put your plans into action!
As you focus on improving the content of your thinking, your emotions will be more stable, and your positive stance toward life will bring pleasing benefits.
P.S. If you find that looking so closely at your troubles is causing ongoing distress, please consult with a counselor, doctor, minister, or healthy friend.
PLEASE SHARE YOUR PROGRESS WITH ME AT www.gigilanger.com/contact-me, or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Or just email me at email@example.com I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU!
Gigi Langer holds a PhD in Psychological Studies in Education from Stanford University. She is a seasoned author and popular speaker who has helped thousands of people improve their lives at home and work. Gigi hasn’t had a drug or drink for over 30 years, although she does occasionally overindulge in Ghirardelli chocolate and historical novels. She lives in Florida with her husband and cat.