Don’t Let Go

I worry about my sister. I worry about my parents. I worry about my kitten. I worry about my job.  I worry about money. I worry about my boyfriend when he’s on his motorcycle. I worry about losing things I love.  ID-10087041
Whatever the worry of the day is I always feel like I have to hold on to it in my mind or it will come true. As if my thinking about it can make it not happen. I must maintain focus on it like a security guard who endlessly travels the halls of a building or tediously stares at monitors, so that the thought doesn’t become a reality. And if I let go, if let my guard down, the evil intentions of fate might intervene and tragedy will certainly ensue. However irrational, I remain convinced that my repetitious quashing of the horrible images in my head will somehow fend off the attack of fate. I’m not sure when in the course of my life I decided I have this amazing power. Some call it “magical thinking.” So maybe when Olivia Newton John sang, “…have to believe we are magic…” I simply believed her. I was probably 12 when I first heard that, which is the ripest age to set in illogical beliefs. Now that I’m 44, (halfway grown-up) I logically I know it cannot be real. But emotionally it is as real to me as any other feeling or thought process I have.
As if this horribly burdensome power isn’t enough, it also painfully compounded with the need, well more accurately, an almost primal compulsion to worry about something. So when I think there’s nothing wrong at the moment, I begin to panic because I’m wondering what I’m missing. What is it that I have forgotten or I don’t know about yet that I should be worrying about?  ID-100134005
Because if I don’t know what it is I’m supposed to be worrying about how could I possibly save anyone or anything with my super powers of destiny control?  If I don’t think about it or think ahead to all of the things that could go wrong in the path of everyone and everything I care about then it will be my fault when the shit hits the fan. Then I get to endure the mental anguish of the loss plus the guilt, so I must not let go. Must not. Don’t let go. Can’t.
I’ve read enough forums, blogs, books and medical journals to know that I’m not alone in this plight, and that with the right counseling and commitment to working on it, these thoughts can be reduced. I am not convinced they can be 100% eliminated for one’s entire future. Who could make that claim anyhow?  What I do know is that there are some exercises that can actually help.
First, you must take care of your physical body. And the foundation of that is sleep. Most people will tell you nutrition is first, and it kind of is, but really, if you don’t sleep well, you will make bad choices, including what to eat or not eat. So we start with sleep as our first building block in the defense to this (and most) kinds of anxiety.  If you don’t sleep well, exercise is excellent, but who has the energy to workout when they’ve had a crappy sleep?  So, if you ask your doctor for a sleep aid, or about holistic alternatives, it might help. I take an herbal supplement called SuperSnooze. If I remember to take it early enough, like 3 hours before bedtime, I can wake up with no grogginess. Ask your doctor if that might work for you too.
Secondly, eating the right food and on a schedule can really help. Both our body and our mind become weaker without the proper nutrition.  Imagine how you’d feel if you didn’t sleep, refused to eat right (or at all) and your immune system is unable to fend off the flu. Now, you are hungry, tired, stuffy, achy and worried about everything. You would be a huge pile of horribleness.  The most healthy diet I’ve found, that promotes clarity, health and energy is the raw vegan diet. Of course, most people won’t give up their meat, let alone get used to having nothing cooked or baked. A good balanced diet will include more veggies than anything. I am absolutely opposed to the all-meat or high-protein diet for several reasons. First, your body becomes laden with animal fats. Meat and fats can get stuck in your intestines for a very long time and ferment. The body will then have difficulty digesting other foods, which means lower nutrition. You may be full and functioning, but your body is nowhere near it’s highest potential. Further, diets high in protein have been shown time and time again to cause cancer and heart disease.
Third, I know everyone says this, and when you are anxious and/or depressed, the last thing you might want to do is get up and move, but – you have to. You have to get up and do anything physical. Stretch, do a few yoga poses, walk to your mailbox 4 times and back. Do anything that gets a little blood flow going. You’d be surprised how little it takes to kick up some endorphins and improve your mental state within minutes. Again, check with your doctor before starting any new diet or exercise program.  ID-10083133
Fourth, we must know, deep down, and really own this thought, and believe it thoroughly, and I say we because you, the reader and I, the writer both need to get this: We are NOT God. We are not any kind of superior being the wields the power of fate, or destiny or has control over the actions of others in any way. To really believe we can is pure folly.Why do we think that way? Well, we probably didn’t come to this conclusion in the first place out of arrogance (as some who don’t understand us might think). We developed it over time, through countless hours of worry, guilt and the refusal to accept the unknown. This is an important point, because it is going to be uncomfortable at first, to realize that you really have no control over others, whether you lock your brain on them or not.  However, once you really get this, and know there’s nothing you can do about it, it becomes a new freedom. You don’t have to worry, because it’s simply out of your control.  One of my favorite Authors, Douglas Adams calls it an SEP. This is short for someone else’s problem.  I like it. Not everyone’s path is my problem. Not every scenario that might suck is my problem. Only the ones that actually arise, that I myself can actually fix are my problems. And they are much fewer than our minds like to trick us in to believing. This new way of thinking is lighter, easier and much more realistic.

 

 

 

The Time of Your Life

clock-1 As a chronic worry wort, how much of your life have you spent worried?  Is the grey space on this clock how much you spend each hour with anxious thoughts? It has been mine – or more.
calendar If you spend hours each day, you’ve likely wasted years of your life frozen in fear. Don’t feel bad,  you’re not alone. All of us who worry, are very good at burning through hour after torturous, non-productive, hour. But now, in this moment in time, is when we stop to reflect on that, and make it part of our past behavior. A habit we are committed to dumping.
clock-2 Make this a new goal: To be aware of how much time you allow yourself to spend brooding and worried.  You own your life. You control your mind. You deserve freedom from mental pain. It’s a simple goal, but far from easy. It takes practice, effort and repeated concentration on doing something unfamiliar – letting go, and moving the hell on with your real life. The life where you live in the present.
clock-3 For a few minutes, instead of worrying about anything, think about something fun or productive. What else could you be doing if you weren’t drowning in worry? Whatever you are worried about can wait, because if it’s a real issue, it will be there when you are done with your current productive task. Put it on a shelf and grab another item. If it’s a projected/potential problem, it can wait because you are able to handle anything that comes your way – when/if that happens. And trust me, it won’t. It will be ok – which means this potential problem can wait forever.
clock-4 Find something seriously engaging, and go to it. It will be hard at first, to focus, but mentally slap your thoughts back on track. Take each minute one at a time. You are a good person, you deserve to feel accomplished. What ever you are doing, do your best at it, and enjoy every moment. Indulge in this, and it will force you to feel better.
 clock-5 After you have completed your project, and realized that you can, to some extent, control your thoughts and feelings, and actually produce something great, you can puff up with pride and realize that you don’t need to worry. Yes, it’s a well beaten path, and this new one is narrow and hard to track, but the more you do it, the easier you will see it, follow it and spend more and more time there.

 

When in Doubt…

So I’m sitting in traffic today, going over the past few days in my head. A long time build up of mutual resentments finally came to a vicious confrontation with an unethical woman who betrayed me and stole from me. I know I’m in the right, and she’s not, but her claws and teeth were out. It was harsh. So now, I am cloudy with this bad feeling like I’ve done something wrong, but I know I haven’t. I feel like a jerk, even though I didn’t do any of the things of which she accused me. I feel like something horrible is going to come out of it, even though the worst is most likely over. I’ve got on my shit-tinted glasses, so the whole world looks like crap to me. My self image is little more than a frownie face. Frown  I don’t wanna feel this way any more. As I drive, I begin to get angry, angry at her, angry at myself for letting her words penetrate my psyche and change how I feel about me. Hey, dammit – I control me, not she! I will choose to be happy right now. I begin to practice the live in the now technique. However, some seriously rude drivers along the way begin to taint the experience of “the now”, so I have to try something else. Maybe something new. I came up with this, and it worked for the rest of the day.

When you begin to doubt yourself or the future, try being arrogant. It’s probably not your normal style, certainly not your everyday ‘tude, but when you get in a state of worry, especially if it’s related to wondering if someone doesn’t like you, or wondering if someone or something is going to harm you, try this.

Don an arrogant attitude for a while. Why? You’ll see once I explain how to do it.
Here’s how:

  1. Be alone. No one needs to encounter your arrogance. If you’re new to it, you may overdo it, and it will likely give the wrong impression. (Or, it could be wicked funny. If that’s the case, good. It’s always our goal to generate a smile. Laughing)
  2. Write down what you’re worried about, or wondering about, even the vaguest and most whacked out ideas. Just give it 5 minutes, a quick little list.
  3. OK, now remember a movie or hero or any figures that were an unmitigated bad-ass and/or arrogant ass. Preferably choose a few who have an intimidating physical presence and intelligent verbal/dialog skills. A nice fictional persona might be a combination of Jesse Ventura and Bruce Lee, with a touch of Don Corleone, JR Ewing and James Bond. (Yes, I chose all men – but you choose whomever works for the purposes of this exercise)
  4. Now go back through your list with your new arrogant, take-charge, kick-it’s-ass, I-can-handle-whatever-comes-my-way attitude and address all your worries.
  5. Keep in mind, that you now fully trust yourself to deal with any and every given situation, should it actually arise, and you can not be defeated. Not only can you handle it ALL, but you deserve to come out on top, because you are after all, YOU. Keep writing until you’ve obliterated each item you wrote down, with your pompous thoughts, superior notions and deserving demeanor.
  6. Next, take a few look at your arrogant answers to all your troubles, and soak them in.  Feel smug. Smile at them.
  7. Now say a few arrogant mantras out loud.  Something like,  “I, _______ am a total bad ass and I can handle anything that comes my way. It’s all beneath me, all easy for me. I deserve all good things in life, cuz I’m awesome.” Repeat it until you believe it.
  8. Lastly, sit back and return to yourself. Your good-natured, balanced, kind self. As you do this, look over the answers the “arrogant” you wrote. Were they really so unrealistic?  Probably not, so remember that should the need arise, you’ve got the answers, a little cheat-sheet, as it were.  So, you can relax, exhale and smile.

Mantra – Rest & Sleep

  • It is now time to relax.
  • I have had a full and productive day.
  • Now I feel calm and clear.
  • I feel relaxed. I am breathing slow and easy.
  • Each breath makes me just a bit more melted into the bed that supports me.
  • I feel sleepy.
  • I thoroughly enjoy sleep.
  • I rejuvenate during sleep. My cells replenish.
  • When I sleep my mind clears. My body recovers and refreshes during sleep.
  • My muscles are relaxed now. My bed is welcoming.
  • I am comfy. I am melty.
  • I feel sleepy. I am cool and comfy.
  • I enjoy sleep.
  • I’m happy to be here.
  • All is well while I am here.
  • I am safe, secure and cozy.
  • I will enjoy deep, comfortable, restful sleep.
  • I am relaxed and content.
  • My pillow is soft.
  • I feel comfortably sleepy.
  • I can drift off into a pleasant sleep.

Quell The Fear Worksheet

Are you having a fear/worry episode or a panic attack right now?  If you are having a full panic attack, first practice breathing very slowly.  See this wikipedia article for breathing exercises.

Let’s begin your worksheet with a few questions. Please get a pen and paper and write down your answers fully. This worksheet works best with a single isolated incident. For ongoing problems like an abusive husband or crappy job, see Dealing Worksheet:

  1. What exactly are you worried about or afraid of?
  2. Is it something that already happened? (If no, skip to #3) Can you fix/repair or undo it to any extent?
    1. Tell me what YOU can do to fix it if it has already happened. If “nothing” is your answer, skip ahead to #5. Otherwise, spell it out in detail, what you will do. Number the steps and take your time.
    2. Can you do that right now? When can you do that? (If “now”, please complete this entire worksheet, then directly carry out your plan.)
  3. Is it something that might happen?  Can you prevent or control any portion of the outcome?
    1. Tell me what YOU can do to prevent it, or reduce the problem. If “nothing” is your answer, skip ahead to #5. Otherwise, spell it out in detail, what you will do. Number the steps and take your time.
    2. When can you carry out this/these actions? (If “now”, please complete this entire worksheet, then directly carry out your plan.)
  4. Add your actions to your calendar (from A. & B. above). Remember, you won’t be better prepared for what is to come by worrying about it. You have your action plan written and will use it when the time comes.
  5. Next, here are the mantras and affirmations to say aloud, no less than 10 times.
    1. I am a strong, capable person. I can handle issues when they come my way.
    2. I will handle only the problems I can, and be at peace with my limitations.
    3. I am calm, knowing that when the time comes, I will handle it with success. I can now fill my head with enjoyable thoughts and go relax.
    4. I am an empowered person. I am smart and resourceful. I am competent and confident. I handle problems with ease. I am resourceful and thoughtful. I am insightful. I am confident, and decisive. My decisions are sound and well reasoned.
    5. I am allowed to enjoy the now, without worrying about the future, because in this moment everything is ok.
    6. I deserve peace. I am worthy of self love. I’m entitled to contentment.

Did you repeat those 10 times? If not, keep going. By the 3rd or 4th round, you will memorize some, and when that happens, I want you to close your eyes, and focus on the meaning of the words, and really sound them down in to your core. Mean them, feel them, embrace them, own them. Now say them some more. Trust me. You are worthy of this time you are spending on yourself.

When done, go about your day. Leave the action plan behind until it is time. Enjoy yourself. Do something fun.

Loss is the Bottom Line

As I sit and worry about the worry-du-jour, or for me, more like the worry de l’heure. (worry of the hour), I think, “what if…”.  The what if question feels like an end to itself, which is clearly the worst, most terrifying possibility it can be, and the end of all of life’s happiness, and I’m certain nothing will ever be good again and that feeling permeates every part of my body until I’m ill and exhausted. Images of the worst case scenarios play out in my brain like the most macabre of short-attention-span movies. What are the chances it’s actually the “level 10” tragedy I’m certain it is? More likely it’s a non-issue, a zero. Or, maybe it’s a level 2, a minor annoyance. Could be a level 6, which is a pretty high level of suck, and will involve time and effort to get over, through, fix, mend, heal, etc., but I can and will.

Despite the odds, my mind races with endless “what if’s…” What I fail to do, is actually answer that question…  What IF this thing happens? Answer the question. Well, if it does, I have to do this thing, or that thing, and possibly cry and mourn, and not to sound cold, but I will get through it. Whatever your worry is, you WILL get through it. Even if it is that most horrible, level 10 of all tragedies.

Welcome, Friend!

This site is dedicated to those who have anxieties, panic or fear about any aspect in their lives.

If you feel anxiety about your job, your marriage, your future… or anything, you’ve come to the right place for help.

With anxieties, fear and panic, many of us become depressed and dysfunctional. This site is to help those of us who are truly worried, and frozen with fear, stand up and take control of ourselves. Control what we can control – our reactions. Become that carefree, easy going spirit we strive for.

We employ several methodologies to achieve this:

  • Meditation
  • Interactive Anxiety Worksheets
  • Group Support
  • Visualizations
  • Psychology behind panic
  • Physiological Benefits of calming techniques