I used to be a pathological worrier. I worried about everything as a child, adolescent, and a few years into my adulthood until one day I decided that enough was enough. Worry feeds on worry and therefore maintains itself. A lot of difficult feelings do this, such as resentment and fear. Depression also maintains itself. In other words; the more you worry, the more you worry. The following is how I stopped worrying. Feel free to apply any of these methods or all to yourself.
Keep a worry-list and assign a time for worrying
Every worry you have goes on the list which you then whip out when you have your worry-time. You are not allowed to worry about anything during any other time than this. Your worry-time shouldn’t be more than 20 minutes and it should be at the same time and place everyday. You will notice that the longer you do this, the less you will need it. I don’t have to assign worry-time for myself anymore. Instead I make a mental note and sort the worry out as soon as I have time.
Don’t let yourself worry about future events until you’re actually there
This works really well for me. I have reduced worrying by not letting myself worry until I’m actually on my way to the event. The event could be anything, such as a doctor’s visit, an outing where you don’t know most of the people attending, or a job interview. After doing this for a few years I now find myself surprised when I do feel worried, even though I know that I would have worried about it earlier in my life. Being prepared can be done without worrying but you have to actively choose to omit it.
If a specific task worries you, get it over with straight away
Your worry might make the task seem very difficult or even impossible but this is rarely true. Get it done. Now. Do not feed the worry by procrastinating. It’s not going to be easier to do later on, quite the opposite. This is for me the most difficult one. Your worry is telling you lots of reasons why you should leave it for later, but you can learn how to not listen to any of it. By listening to these reasons you’re feeding the worry and you will decrease your solution seeking ability. Remember that it takes 21 days of daily practice to break a habit or form a new one. Persevere.
Be aware of how others affect you
While you’re preoccupied worrying about what others think of you, they are most likely preoccupied worrying about what you think of them. It’s quite silly, really. Does it really matter what people think of you? What is more important is what you think of you. Are you proud of your achievements in life so far? Are you happy? If not, do something about it right this second. You are losing valuable time being stuck in old ways. Acquire the skills and knowledge that you need to fix whatever you’re not happy with. You are the only one who can truly make yourself happy and make sure that you enjoy your life.
Distinguish between solvable and unsolvable worries
This is simple. If a worry is solvable then brainstorm it for a suitable solution and then apply it. If it’s not solvable then accept the fact that worrying is the brain’s way of making you avoid unpleasant emotions. You should embrace the emotions. Don’t let yourself worry about things that might possibly happen and don’t let your imagination run wild. Why worry about things you can’t control? And by worrying about something that might happen, you are in fact subconsciously making it more likely to happen. Our core beliefs tend to want to validate themselves over and over by for example making you subconsciously fail at something to reinforce your core belief that you can’t do anything right.
If you find this especially difficult you can use the rubber band technique. Put a rubber band around your wrist and every time you start thinking about an unsolvable worry, snap it. This technique uses the same principle as Pavlov’s dog and bell experiment.
Accept and embrace uncertainty
Isn’t it absolutely wonderful that we very rarely know anything for certain? I believe that you create your life. If you fill it with worry, you fill it with completely unnecessary and often imagined problems. Uncertainty is brilliant. It means that anything can happen at any time which might sound scary but, it also means that you never know where life is going to take you or who you’re going to meet next. Embrace uncertainty and take chances. Your life will be better from it.