by Neil Fiore, PhD

Worry is activated when your mind tries to control something beyond its control, such as a future event. In a desperate attempt to avoid potential danger or disappointment, your worrying mind tries to grasp and hold on to the virtual images of future or past events. When you let your time-traveling mind roam into the imaginary past or future, you’re playing a dirty trick on your body. This faithful servant, your body, tries to tackle problems in a time frame that exists only in your imagination, using energy that it can only release in the present. This extra, unusable energy causes stress, anxiety, and “nervous energy”—energy that’s stuck and can’t be used effectively in the real time of this moment.

The next time you’re worrying about controlling the outcome of some event that only exists in your mind’s imagination or virtual reality, take these steps:

    • Notice if the muscles in your forehead, jaw, or shoulders become tense. This is a signal that your mind is holding an image of potential danger that has mobilized your body’s fight-flight response. Your body, being more of a realist than your mind, remains in the only time there is-the present, where it’s stuck with massive amounts of hormones and energy that can’t be used now. Recognize that most stress and worry are stirred by your worrying-and time-traveling-mind and its attempts at trying to control the so-called future.

 

    • Use your symptoms of worry and tension to remind you to quickly shift your focus to what you can do now, in the present. Say: “What can I do now?”
      It is only now, in the present moment, that you can do something to avoid future danger or develop plans to cope with it. Now is the only time you can be effective.

 

    • Tell your worrying mind to take a break and expect a surprise.
      Practice rapidly shifting from trying to know what’s going to happen in the future to being comfortable wondering what interesting solutions and surprises soon will occur to you. Tell your worrying mind “You haven’t the foggiest idea how we’ll get through this one, so it’s going to be a surprise. This is going to be interesting.”

 

    • Schedule a specific time to do quality worrying.
      Whenever worrying about the future begins to disrupt your concentration and enjoyment of the present, remember that you’ve scheduled 30 to 60 minutes this evening to do some quality worrying. At that time you’ll focus on developing plans for coping with possible danger, look for alternative solutions, and restore your confidence. Then you’ll be prepared to deal with whatever life presents without needing to know, grasp, or control every detail.

 

    • Take action. Take responsibility for making a risk-benefit analysis and for your chosen action. Demonstrating that the human leader has shown up will relax your worrying mind and lower brains.

 

  • Practice 3-part breathing to bring your mind into the present, with your body
    1. Inhale; 2. Hold your breath and tense your muscles; 3. Exhale and release. Let your mind and muscles accept the support of the chair, floor, or bed as you float down into the present moment.See Centering Exercise at www.neilfiore.com/articles.shtml Coaching: www.neilfiore.com/coach.shtml
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    Identify 1 – 3 worries: __________________________________________________________________
    Schedule Quality Worrying: Date: _____________ Time: __________________

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