Break Free from Worry

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WorryI subscribe to Dr Anthony Fernando’s newsletter and always enjoy his regular teachings…this one in particular caught my attention and resonated with me because I’m a WORRIER! With permission here is his awesome article about how to break free from worry…

In today’s Dare To Dream article, you’ll discover an effective five-step process for breaking free from the endless cycle of worry that can prevent you from achieving your most important goals.

Here’s what you’ll learn:
• How to develop hope, optimism and courage
• How to use a “Probability Shift” to increase your chances of success
• Why trying to stop worrying doesn’t work and what you should do instead

One of the biggest traps that can prevent you from achieving your most important goals in life is getting caught in an endless cycle of worry. Left unchecked, worry can lead to stress, high blood pressure and chronic health problems. However, there is a way to break free from this cycle…

In it’s simplest form, worry is fear of the unknown and involves continually imagining that the worst case scenario will happen in a given situation.

Here is an effective 5-step process for breaking this cycle of worry:

Step 1: Acknowledge Your Worst Case Scenario
The first step, which may seem counter intuitive, is to give yourself permission to think for a moment about your worst case scenario.

Often the mental stress associated with worry comes from having this worst case scenario building in the back of your mind, but refusing to acknowledge or think about it. Giving yourself permission to momentarily think about your worst case scenario often acts like a pressure valve, to release this subconscious build up of anxiety.

Take a moment to think about what you would actually do if this scenario eventuates, and allow yourself to face your greatest fear. Do NOT however, make the mistake of dwelling on your worst case scenario, instead, move immediately to Step 2…

Step 2: Clarify Your Best Case Scenario
The next step is to clarify your Best Case Scenario, which is the best possible outcome in the situation you are facing.

A great way to do this is to write down a description of your best case scenario in a journal. This simple act of clarifying your best case scenario on paper often gives you a sense of hope, optimism and courage to move forward.


Step 3: Probability Shift
Once you have examined your worst and best case scenarios, the next step is to brainstorm a list of everything you can do to increase the probability of achieving your best case scenario and decrease the probability of your worst case scenario eventuating.

This empowers you to take action and focus on the solution to your problem rather than the problem itself.

Step 4: Get Busy
Once you have a list of tasks that will help you increase the probability of achieving your best case scenario, get busy and take action. Keeping busy is another good way to break the cycle of endless worry.


Step 5: Scenario Substitution
This is the most important step of all. Every time you catch yourself worrying about your worst case scenario, stop, refocus, and start thinking about your best case scenario.

It’s important to understand that your mind can only keep one thing in focus at a time. So the best way to stop worrying is NOT to try and ignore your worst case scenario, but rather, to replace these negative thoughts with thoughts relating to your best case scenario.

Note: this is not the same as burying your head in the sand and ignoring your problem. It’s about acknowledging your situation and opting to focus on the best possible outcome.

Here’s an example that illustrates how this process works in the real world:
Pete works for a small company that creates accounting software. He is worried about losing his job as there are rumours floating around the lunchroom that the company is in financial trouble and may need to make cutbacks. With two young kids at home, Pete is very anxious about what might happen.

Initially he tries to ignore the situation, but his mind is continually filled with a cloud of worry and fear of the unknown. Eventually he decides to try the five-step process described above.

Step 1: Acknowledge Your Worst Case Scenario – Pete’s Example
Pete gives himself permission to think through his worst case scenario. His train of thought goes something like this…

If I did lose my job, I would:
• Contact Allen at Sentient Software to see if they have any positions available
• Contact my old boss to check if they are still looking for developers
• Sign up as a contractor and try to pick up some contracts via oDesk
• Look into government benefits until

I find a new position

This would be difficult, uncomfortable, and embarrasing and I don’t want to do this, but I COULD if I really have to which is good to know.

Step 2: Clarify Your Best Case Scenario – Pete’s Example
Pete then uses his journal to explore his best case scenario…

The best thing that could happen is:
The project I’m currently working on is a huge success, and solves the fi

nancial problems of the company and gets us back on track.

Step 3: Probability Shift – Pete’s Example
Pete then formulates a plan of action…

To increase the probability of achieving my best case scenario I can:
• Give my current project everything I have
• Finish the UI design for the new accounting package
• Get the other guys on the team to really push hard to make this product a success

Step 4: Get Busy – Pete’s Example
Having clarified his best case scenario, and what he can do to make it happen, Pete gets to work and keeps himself busy. This not only gives him less time to worry, but also increases the chances of his best case scenario becoming a reality.

Step 5: Scenario Substitution – Pete’s Example
Occasionally when Pete hears someone talking about cutbacks around the water cooler, he starts worrying about losing his job again. However, instead of trying to block these thoughts out, Pete changes his focus and actively starts thinking about making his current project a success and immediately feels his mood shift. This helps him break the cycle of worry and makes his time at work much more enjoyable.

So the next time you find yourself worrying about a particular situation, give this process a try.It takes a bit of practice to get the hang of, but is definitely worth the effort.

When you clarify your worst and best case scenarios, focus on taking positive action and practice scenario substitution, you’ll finally be able to break free from the cycle of endless worry and enjoy life.

For more inspiring ideas and articles, please check out Dare to Dream

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