How to Stop Worrying

What is worry?

Worry is focusing your attention on your fears repeatedly. It is a habit; a form of condition thinking.

Why is Worrying Bad?

Worry is a waste of time and energy. It does absolutely nothing to change what you are worried about.

It is also destructive. It causes a great deal of stress, which is unhealthy physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Worrying simply reinforces living of your life in fear. Fear is paralyzing and keeps you away from living your life to the fullest. 

The good news is that you can stop worrying if you choose to.

How to stop worrying

Here are four steps to help you stop worrying:

  1. Awareness
  2. Choosing and Committing to Change
  3. Changing Your Attitude Away From Fear
  4. Breaking the Habit of Worry

Awareness

Firstly, you have to be aware that you were worrying. Since worrying is often a habit, you might not even know that you are doing it. 

Do your friends or family members tell you that you are a worry wart?  Do you notice that you are fearful often? Ask yourself: Am I worrying now?

At first, simply observe yourself to see how many times a day you catch yourself worrying. Don't try to change these thoughts. Just observe how often it happens.

The simple act of observation will help reduce the frequency of your worrisome thoughts.

Choosing and Committing to Change

This is probably the most important step. If you want to stop worrying, you have to clearly decide that you want to stop. And then commit to it. This takes action and effort.

For the most part, fear is a choice. Fear is created simply from the thoughts in your head. 

Fear is not the same as danger. Danger is a situation in which you, or others, may be put in harms way. Fear is a reaction to perceived dangers. Some fears are rational while others are irrational (phobias).

Change your Attitude: Focus on What You Want

We can not always control what happens to us, but we can control our attitude about how we deal with our circumstances. 

How we deal with fear is a choice. You can choose to let it control you, or you can acknowledge it and move forward.

Your energy goes to wherever you focus your attention upon.  And, wherever you focus your attention is what you create and attract in your life. So, if you focus your attention on your fears, then your life is your fears. 

Conversely, if you focus your attention -- and take action -- upon what you want, you are much more likely to get it. Be proactive rather than reactive.

An Attitude Changing Exercise

Take out a piece of paper and write down a list of what you are worried about.  Now go through every item on the list and write a positive outcome. 

For example: I am worried that my son will get in a traffic accident driving through the blizzard.

Now change that sentence to: Even though the weather is bad, my son will arrive home safely.

Here we are acknowledging danger, but are focusing on a positive outcome.

There is nothing you can do to change your son's action of driving. So why waste your energy and create unnecessary stress? We can not predict the future, but there are strong odds that he will arrive home safely. Use rationality to confront your fears.

Go through your list and change all of your worries so that they have positive outcomes. Remember what you have done in this exercise, because it is practice for how you will be changing your habit of worrying. When changing habits, it is important to replace the negative habit with a positive one.

Changing the Habit of Worry

Worry is a habit. If you want to change, have to employ habit changing techniques.

1. Catch yourself

Throughout the day, catch yourself every time you have a worrying thought. But don't be judgmental about it. Just acknowledge the fact that you are  having a worrisome thought.

2. Bring your attention back to your body

Whenever you catch yourself with the worrisome thought, bring your attention back to your body. Where do you feel your worry? Do you feel it in your stomach? Do you feel it in your head? Do you feel it in your pinky?

Wherever the feeling is, just feel it. Don't push it away. Don't analyze it. Just feel it. If it is a strong feeling,  then close your eyes and breathe deeply through your nose and focus your attention on where you feel the worry. You will notice that the feeling will go away. And so will the thought.

Bringing your attention back to your body is a very useful tool for stopping conditioned thinking. You can learn more about it here.

3. Changing Your Thinking and Self Talk

Sometimes when the automatic part of our mind has taken over, we have to override it by talking to ourselves aloud.

When you catch yourself dwelling on a worrisome thought, actively change the thought to one with a positive outcome, like we did in the exercise above. Speaking it aloud helps reinforce the new thought.

4. Be quiet every day.

Take the time to be quiet every day. Meditation is an excellent tool for training your mind and connecting with your Inner Self. If you have never meditated before, you can find instructions for a simple five minute daily meditation here

The short version is to simply pick a quiet place, sit down, close your eyes, and feel your breath coming in your nose and out of your nose. Set the timer on your mobile phone for five minutes with a gentle ringer. Do this daily and add five minutes the next week, and five more the week after. Now you have a 15 minute daily meditation practice.

You have solutions to all of your problems inside of you. Quieting your mind allows you to find those solutions.

5. Stop Feeding the Fear

Stop ingesting fear into your life. Turn off the news. Having worked in the news business myself, I can attest that you really don't need to watch the TV news. It just pumps you full of fear. So does advertising. And politicians. And your cousin sending you those conspiracy emails. 

Look around you and see everything that is pumping you full of fear, whether it be media or individuals. Get rid of what you don't need in your life. You don't fear.

5. Repeat again, and again

Your habit of worry did not happen overnight. Changing your habits will also not happen overnight. Commit to it and change will happen.

If you follow the steps above, you will notice that you worry less and less day by day. One day you will notice that you did not worry at all that day.

You will not be perfect on this path, so don’t try. Simply try to improve a little bit today.  We are not robots. We are complex human beings with all of our wonderful imperfections. We can chose to improve our imperfections.

You have chosen to change years of conditioning. Take it slowly, but steadily. You can do it. 

Write a simple journal. It is good to look at weeks, months and years later to see how far you have come. It also helps to organize your thoughts.

Be Nice to Yourself

The opposite of fear is love. Show yourself love. Forgive yourself. Be kind to yourself.

You are choosing to change yourself for the better. Take one small baby step at a time. If you keep on this path, imagine where you will be one year from now.

The process of self-improvement works better and faster if you have help. If you would like step-by-step help overcoming your fears and living your life to the fullest, you can contact me here.

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Paul Crouse

Paul Crouse is a personal development consultant, writer, speaker and photographer based in Kyoto, Japan. He assists people who consciously want to change their lives for the better. He helps people build a strong inner foundation, while helping them to clarify and achieve their goals. He is a facilitator and a guide. Paul works with individuals worldwide via video calling or face-to-face in Kyoto. He also leads workshops and seminars, both online and in person, for organizations and companies.