Balancing the worry scale

Anxiety is a driving force for many. The worries keep coming at you. Worries about you, your health, your kids, your loved ones, your finances, your animal companions, the world…… There truly is a never ending list of things to bother or upset us and steal our peace.

I find many clients consumed with worries. Many if not most of them are very intelligent and do realize many of the worries are irrational. Yet there is a small possibility of truth or reality in the worry. And this possibility burrows into their brains.

I tell them to NOT argue with the worry. Accept it is there. And you can not like it. That is ok, just don’t fight it. I tell them that is a battle that takes tremendous energy and is one they will probably lose. They have already tried fighting, so let’s try something new. Here is what I teach them.

Balance the scale. Your mind says, “what if I have a terrible disease?” Respond like this. “OK. It might be true, but maybe it is not. Maybe I don’t have a terrible disease. Maybe I have a treatable condition. Or maybe it is a passing virus, or a passing condition my body can deal with.”

The model is:

What if? But maybe…..

What if people don’t like me? But what if they do? Maybe they will like me.

What if I fail? But maybe I will succeed.

What if the event goes badly? Perhaps it will go smoothly.

We assume the negative possibility is complete truth. It is only a possibility. A good outcome is also possible. We need to remind ourselves of this.

Balancing the scales makes me feel more spacious, less pressured, more open. It reminds me of other possibilities so I don’t feel so trapped or stuck. Due to this I feel less anxious and thus my rational brain works better. I can make better decisions and take more effective action. I don’t get stuck or paralyzed so much.

When you are addressing a worried or anxious thought, keep your language tentative. Use maybe, perhaps, possibly. Do not try to be super positive, as your negative mind will reject it and fight it. Your negative mind will find it difficult to argue with the tentative language so will typically accept it.

For more details on self acceptance, check out my book, SAD No More.

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