Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Do You Know the Worry Bug?

All human beings contend with bouts of frustration and negativity. Even those of us with a positive outlook on life, get taunted by the worry bug. Daily we experience about 50,000 thoughts, images and ideas. They slip into our awareness in positive or negative ways. The negative teasers turn into worry bugs that capture our awareness too easily.

Our amygdala and limbic systems focus on threats to protect our survival. During prehistoric times, when stalked by a predator, the systems kicked in. We picked up that danger signal. 

Today our threats involve cognitive thinking: the job, the finances, or what's going on with family and friends. Our heart rates increase just thinking.  When you say, “The older I get, the more I worry,” it’s because of all the practice.

Why do we practice worrying? Psychologists indicate that worry gains its hold on us by ritualized reassurance. All negative scenarios that can possibly occur, race through the mind. We search for ways to survive them, to calm ourselves down. Situations we worry about 94 percent of the time never happen. What results is usually something never worried about. 

Next time the worry bug bites, try new approaches.

Take a break from dancing or jousting with the worry bug. Rather than change the way you think, change your relationship to your thoughts. 

Learn to watch your thoughts, rather than engage with them.

When a negative thought distracts, stop the runaway train. Notice sights, sounds, scents, a taste of air. Engage with a feeling.

Notice what’s going on in the moment. Find words of admiration to discover the rightness of things. 

Create your own metaphor for struggle.  Consider your greatest accomplishment and how you achieved it. Bring in all the senses to recall it in detail.

Avoid always thinking in fix-it mode.

Sing La La La and launch into a favorite melody.

Keep a journal for positive ideas and gratitude comments and write in it just before bed.

Use humor to design a defense against your bug.

Take a look at a video about Wince and the Worry Bug. You'll learn how not to feed him.

Turn worry into Wonder!

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