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Kick the Worry Habit

by Lynn A. Robinson, M.Ed.

Are you one of those people who worry constantly? Your mind races with thoughts of present and future disasters. “What if I lose my job?” “What if that bump on my leg turns out to be cancer?” “What if I can’t pay my bills this month?” Worry is amazingly common. Experts indicate at least one in four of us — about 65 million Americans — will meet the criteria for an anxiety disorder at some point in our lifetime.

Chronic worry steals your sense of safety. It takes away your peace of mind. When you worry excessively, you become afraid to take a risk or try something new. It cheats you out of the full, rich, and abundant life you deserve. You begin to lose hope that things will ever change. You become, in a word, hopeless.

Author Melodie Beattie writes, “What if we knew for certain that everything we're worried about today will work out fine? What if . . . we knew the future was going to be good, and we would have an abundance of resources and guidance to handle whatever comes our way? What if . . . we knew everything was okay, and we didn't have to worry about a thing? What would we do then? We'd be free to let go and enjoy life.”

How do you begin to make the change from being an anxious worrier to being confident about your choices and full of faith about your future? How do you, as Beattie encourages, “let go and enjoy life?” Here are some tips to help you make the transformation:

Observe your worry — What are your most common “worry thoughts”? Over a period of several days, begin to write them down. Pay close attention to any thoughts or phrases that really grab you and disturb your well-being. Perhaps you have broad anxieties about “never getting ahead” or more specific ones like “what happens if my car breaks down and I can’t afford to fix it?” Many people are not even aware that they worry. They just experience a state of generalized anxiety. Awareness of your worry habit is the first step in the transformation to peace of mind.

Shift your thinking — After you’ve had a chance to analyze the pattern of your worrying, you may begin to see a theme emerge. Perhaps you’ll recognize a deeply held belief that you’re “not lucky” or that you’ll always be poor. Begin to examine those thoughts. How could you shift those opinions so that they’re more positive? I’m not suggesting that, like Pollyanna, you just wish them away. I’m advocating replacing the chronic worry thoughts with a new set of thoughts that create a more peaceful mindset. When you find yourself beginning to worry, try one of these phrases instead: “Things have a way of working out.” “Most of the things I worry about never happen anyway.” “I’ll get through this tough time.” What are the expressions that make you feel better? One positive thought at a time can gradually shift the balance of your thinking from depressing to encouraging. Write down your positive thoughts, and put them in a prominent location.

Take action — It was Will Rogers who said the famous line, “Even if you're on the right track, you'll still get run over if you just sit there.” Worry can emotionally paralyze you if you let it, and nothing cures worry faster than taking action. Sit down for a moment, and write down the biggest concern you have. Maybe it’s the one that wakes you up at 3 AM, or it’s the one that niggles at the back of your mind throughout your workday. Now quickly list four – and only four – things you can do to begin to create a solution. Your list might include calling a friend to talk over an issue or making an appointment with a financial planner to get some facts about your situation. Perhaps you could take a class to learn about managing your finances better. These tasks do not have to be big. In fact, the smaller the better because that increases the likelihood that you’ll actually do them! Write your list now.

Pray or meditate — Talk to God about your concerns. There are all kinds of formal prayers beseeching the Divine for liberation from worry. However, I’m a big believer in simply talking from your heart. “God, I’m worried about being able to pay the bills this month. I know there are many ways you can to help me work this out and create abundance. I place this in Your hands.” The Reverend Robert Schuller claims, “There are 365 verses in the Bible that begin with the words "fear not." Many religions and spiritual practices encourage us to put our fears in the hands of a higher power. Say whatever is in your mind or heart. Many people find it difficult to still their mind enough to meditate effectively. It’s particularly hard when you’re in a phase of anxiety. If this is true for you, simply sit for no more than five minutes and say a comforting phrase or phrases out loud or to yourself. It might be “the Universe is abundant,” “God provides all that I need,” or “I let go of fear and worry and know that everything is working out fine.” What would your comforting thought be?

There are many things you can do to overcome worry. Take some small steps today, and you’ll be on the right path to experiencing more peace of mind.

Lynn Robinson, M.Ed., is a motivational speaker and intuitive advisor. She's also the bestselling author of five books on the topic of intuition including Divine Intuition and Trust Your Gut. Her free Intuition Newsletter is available at www.LynnRobinson.com She can be reached at Lynn@LynnRobinson.com or 800-925-4002.

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