It only seems as if you’re doing something
when you’re worrying.
— Lucy Maud Montgomery
When we wake up each day, our thoughts mostly concern the quotidian tasks, such as things we have to do or how we’re going to spend the day. Depending on what your very first activity is when you wake up, your focus is usually on what’s in front of you. Things like making a cup of coffee, waking the kids up for school, going outside to get the paper, or walking the dog are the kinds of morning activities we’re usually busy with when we first get up.
However, sometimes if we’ve gone to sleep with a thought in our mind that has us worried or concerned, it can be that very same thought that’s with us when we wake. So even while we’re performing our daily morning rituals, that worried thought can be percolating in our mind like the cup of coffee we’re making.
If that thought is something genuinely to be concerned or worried about, like you or someone you love has a health problem and are going to have some medical tests done that day, or you fear that you might get fired from your job because you have problems with your boss, or that, according to the prophet Nostradamus, today is the day that the world could come to an end, then it’s understandable how the foremost thought in your head is one of worry or concern (even though the Nostradamus prediction is based more on prophecy than the reality of what is in the present, like a health or work problem).
Whether your worry is based in reality or prophecy, what still remains is that you need to find out if the worrying thought you’re having is really worth all the energy you’re expending.
The “Something to Worry About” Thoughts
Yet, sometimes the thoughts bothering us are not based on anything concrete, like health or career problems. But they’re in our mind anyway, even when we’re making our breakfast or doing the Sunday crossword puzzle, and it’s unsettling us enough to make us feel agitated or irritated, and maybe even angered by it. It just won’t go away.
I call those thoughts the “Something to Worry About” thoughts. They are those thoughts that give us something to worry or be concerned about because we feel we need to. If we’re used to having something to worry about because it gives us a feeling that we’re solving some kind of a problem—when, in fact, all we’re doing is worrying needlessly—then we will find something to worry about.
It’s not that worrying can’t be useful, like using it as a motivator for studying for a test so that you’ll do well on it, or getting something done by a deadline, but there are more productive ways to do well at something, or getting something done on time other than worrying or creating needless anxiety.
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It’s important to know the purpose and intention of your thoughts. Asking yourself Says Who? when you have a thought that’s overtaken your mind with worry, is in essence asking yourself, “Who said I should worry like this?”
This will begin the questioning process to understand the seriousness of your worry, and if your thought is really worth spending so much of your time on.
Am I In Control Of This Thought?
If it’s something to be genuinely concerned about, your questioning of it will let you know that your thought is important to you, and your concern is worth thinking about. But if you ask yourself, “Am I in control of this thought?” you might find out that your worrying is controlling your thoughts, instead of you being in control of them.
Does This Thought Work For Me?
By asking “Does this thought work for me?” you realize that, no, it isn’t working for you because it’s not solving anything for the better. Then, when you follow that question with, “Do I want to keep this thought or let it go?” you realize that yes, you need to let it go.
Banish the “Something to Worry About” Thoughts
By answering these questions, you’ll find out if you’re ready to let go of those “Something to Worry About” thoughts. If they have no use for your well-being—they’re just keeping you busy worrying.
1. Says who?
“Who said I should worry like this? Am I telling myself to worry?”
2. Have I heard someone say this thought before? “
Have I heard or witnessed someone I know worry about a thought like this before or something similar?”
3. Do I like this thought?
“Do I like having a worried thought like this in my mind?”
4. Does this thought make me feel better?
“Does having this worried thought in my mind make me feel better or add value to my life in any way?”
5. Does this thought work for me?
“Does thinking this worried thought work for me in a positive, useful or productive way?”
6. Am I in control of this thought?
“Is this worried thought controlling me or am I in control of it?”
7. Do I want to keep thinking this thought, or let it go?
“Do I want to keep worrying about this, or do I want to release it and let it go?”
The question “Have I heard someone say this thought before?” might shed some light on connecting your worried thought to someone you know, like a parent, grandparent or a family member, who was a worrier. Perhaps you grew up seeing them in that state a lot, and just assumed it was normal. Now you realize this habit of worrying has become yours.
Find out what good your worrying is doing for you by questioning it. You may discover that it’s doing absolutely nothing good or productive for you—it’s just keeping you in a worried state, and by reducing worry, it will minimize anxiety and stress in your life. I’ve seen this happen with many of my clients.
Worrying About No Longer Worrying?
I had a client who was a constant worrier. She told me that she had always been that way, but really wanted to learn how to minimize worrying so much because it made her feel stressed all the time. When I asked her the Says Who? questions, one by one, she was able to answer each of them almost immediately, which clearly indicated to me that she was more than ready to do something about her worrying.
My client was genuinely ready to stop worrying so much, and was willing to do whatever it took to make that happen, but what was most revealing about what she “believed” about her worried thoughts was that she didn’t know what it would feel like if she actually stopped worrying, which made her feel anxious—causing her to worry about no longer worrying!
I had her work the Says Who? method on that thought too, and she eventually came to understand how she kept perpetuating her worrying, even when she thought she wasn’t. She kept working the method when any of her thoughts even slightly conjured up worry for her, and she soon saw how they started to diminish. This gave her tremendous relief, and gave her an empowered feeling of being in control of her “Something to worry about” thoughts for the first time in her life.
Are You Sick And Tired Of Worrying?
If you’re really sick and tired of worrying, you can stop yourself from doing it once you realize you don’t want to do it anymore, and if you genuinely have something that deserves your concern, give it the time you need to work it through in your mind, and then let it go. By that I mean: don’t spend more time on it then need be.
Know the difference between worrying needlessly, and caring about something you hope will be okay, which can be the thought you hold in your mind. Try and replace your worried thought with thoughts of love and healing, which are more productive thoughts than thoughts of worrying.
This is especially true when we are consumed with worry over a loved one’s health. Instead of wasting energy on worry, a much more useful and effective way to use our mind can be to hold healing thoughts about an ill loved one instead of anxious ones.
Holding healing thoughts makes you feel that you’re doing something positive and proactive to help the person who needs it. And if you find yourself worrying about your own well-being with a health situation or crisis, try and take some quiet time to apply the same healing thoughts for yourself.
Here are some ways to turn your “Something to Worry About Thoughts” into healing thoughts:
1. When you have a worried thought about someone (or yourself) acknowledge it by saying, “I am worried about (say name).”
2. Tell yourself, “I surround (say name) in white light and love and see them healing.”
3. Tell yourself, “I hold (say name) in my mind as a vibrant, healthy person.”
4. Tell yourself, “(Say name) has my love and blessings.”
Try and do this when you find yourself worrying about someone or yourself. It will help you focus on their or your wellness instead of worrying needlessly. It’s also helpful to do before you go to bed so that your worried thought doesn’t keep you up and anxious, unable to fall asleep.
Acknowledge, Observe, and Don't React
When a worried thought pops up in your mind, try to first Acknowledge it, Observe it, and not React to it. This will help you stay present and neutral with your worry so it won’t plug you into it even more, making it seem bigger than it probably is.
By remaining calm, even if you’re dealing with something that has reason for concern or worry, you will be able to handle it better, and with a much clearer mind.
©2016 by Ora Nadrich. All Rights Reserved.
Published by Morgan James Publishing,
More than simple "think positive" slogans and inspirational platitudes, this is not just a motivational book; instead "Says Who?" provides practical, tangible steps to tackling a condition that affects us all: negative thoughts.
About the Author
Ora Nadrich, a popular Huffington Post writer, is a Los Angeles-based certified Life Coach and Mindful Meditation specialist. From a very early age Ora has been a seeker of knowledge, with a particular interest and talent in discovering how our thoughts work. Ora has also facilitated a popular Women’s Group for the last several years. Learn more at www.OraNadrich.com