A trick we can use to help handle chronic worry is using the acronym AHA! This is going to incorporate two other blog posts I have written recently and consolidate this approach.
Acknowledge and accept – read more about living in the now here
Humour the worrisome thoughts as you would your nuisance neighbour – read more here
Activity – resume doing things that are important to you in your ‘external world’ and take the worries with you.
Acknowledge and accept.
When you are feeling anxious you need to acknowledge that you’re having worrisome thoughts or emotional reactions. Your initial response will likely be to pretend it’s not happening, but it is.
Imagine you had planned a day out at the beach, when you hear it’s likely to rain. You can attempt to pretend that you didn’t hear that. But you did, and the only option is to accept the rain.
Worrisome thoughts don’t add any value to your life as they are usually just repetitions of previous thoughts. Like spam emails filling up your inbox, you have unwanted thought filling up your mind.
Acknowledging the issue is simple, you do this by being aware that it’s happening. We know we can’t ignore it, so just acknowledge it. It’s a thought that we don’t need and it will do its best to get you to worry more. The acknowledgment is just for yourself. This is a big first step, because most people drive straight into reacting/resisting the thought. Then they are worrying more and more which allows it to get out of control.
What you need to accept is that you are having a thought that you don’t like. You probably don’t like it when you get a headache, but you can acknowledge it until it passes. A headache is just there, it will go when it is ready. Accepting isn’t about wanting to make the thought go away or to try to change it or judge it in anyway. Remember you don’t get to pick your thoughts, you can only choose your reaction to them. Your reaction at this stage is to just be aware you are having a thought that you don’t like.
You are no doubt going to want to know how to reply to yourself as it will be your nature to attempt some response. The best replies I have come up with that worked very well for me have been ‘Oh Well’. Remember you are the reader of the book not the author so you can’t change the event.
The start of the journey
This is a rather large first step. When you are dehydrated after playing sport you can instantly replenish yourself by having a big drink. But this is more like the process of learning to play the sport. It takes time to master and time for your body to start reacting the way you wish. You may not get instant results, but like anything it will come with time. You have to start becoming accustomed to this habit and using it as often as you can.
For some people the first step is the only step they require but they are likely in the minority. They acknowledge the worry is presenting itself and are aware of it they don’t fall for it to anymore. They simply say ‘Oh well’ and go on with what they were doing. But for the most people need to progress a little further as below.
Asking yourself these two questions
- Is there a problem that exists now in the external world around you?
- If there is, can you do something to change it now?
If the answer is anything other than two yes’s then you don’t have a problem in your external world and you are being baited by your worrying thoughts.
The problem you are facing is not the problem your thoughts have described to you. The problem you face is the discomfort you experience in response to they worry and your inability to see that it shouldn’t be taken seriously. If you accept the discomfort and the baited worrisome thoughts then they soon pass. They are trolls and remember ‘don’t feed the trolls’
Lastly Activity. Just continue to do whatever is you are wanting to do. Your thoughts are just thoughts and you can go about your daily life. You choose if you continue or not. So, choose to continue with your life. Don’t let the worry stop you from your activities because it doesn’t need to.
So here we end the AHA! moment that you need to consistently use. Accept and acknowledge you are thinking about something you preferred you weren’t. Humour those thoughts like stated in this blog here. Continue with whatever activities you have planned.
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