Sunday, November 6, 2011

BOOK RECOMMENDATION: "The Worry Cure: Seven Ways to Stop Worrying from Stopping You" (Robert L. Leahy, Ph.D)

"Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?"---Matthew 6:27(NKJV)

"If you want to test your memory, try to recall what you were worrying about one year ago today."---E. Joseph Cossman

Hook, line and sinker...

"First, you have to come up with some good reasons why you need to worry. What could they be? How about 'Worry motivates me' or 'Worry helps me solve my problems' or 'Worry keeps me from being surprised'? Those sound like excellent reasons to worry. 

Then you can come up with some ideas about when to start worrying. What is going to trigger this experience for you? You might say, 'When something bad happens', but that's not really the case, because you worry about things that haven't happened yet. Or you might say, 'When something bad is about to happen.' But how would you know if it's about to happen? It hasn't happened yet, and almost everything that you worry about happening has never happened. You could say, 'Worry about things that you can imagine happening that are really bad.' You can now imagine a million bad things that never have to happen. It's an unlimited supply of worries.

Now that you have some potential material to work with, you will have to focus on your worries. There are so many other things to distract you: work, friends, family, hobbies, aches and pains, even sleep. How will you keep your mind on your worries?

That easy. Tell yourself some stories about all of the bad things that could happen. Embellish them with details. Start each sentence, where possible, with 'what if' and then come up with every possible outcome. Keep telling yourself these bad stories, each time trying to figure out if you left something out important. You can't trust your memory. Come up with all of the possibilities---and then dwell on them. Remember, if it's possible, it's probable.

And don't forget, keep thinking that if something bad could happen---if you simply can imagine it---then it's your responsibility to worry about it. That's the first rule of worry.

But if something bad could happen, what does it have to do with you? Well, the second rule is don't accept any uncertainty---you need to know for sure.

So solve every problem that you can think of right now. You'll feel better. You'll finally be able to relax once you've eliminated uncertainty from your life. If you had absolute certainty, you wouldn't be worried, would you? You have to go out and get that perfection, that certainty.

Now let's start with your health. You can be completely certain that this discoloration isn't cancer. You just saw the doctor, but haven't doctors been wrong before? Moving along, you can't be sure that all of your money won't run out. Or that you won't lose your job. If you do lose your job, you can't be 100 percent sure that you would get another job. Or that people who respect you now won't lose all of their respect if you don't keep things going at the highest level possible. 

Let's face it---is there anything that you are really certain of?

Maybe you can get some certainty by getting other people to reassure you. Maybe someone else is a better judge than you are. Go to the doctor as many times as you can afford to and ask her if she can tell you absolutely for sure that nothing is wrong with you, or if she can tell you that you will never get sick and die. Ask your friends if they think that you still look as good as you did last year. Maybe you can catch things before they slide too far. Maybe, before you completely fall apart---get sick and lose your money, job, friends, and your looks---you can catch it all and reverse it in a heroic effort of self-help. Maybe it's not too late. That's the great thing about demanding certainty. You will eliminate any oversights. You won't be naive. You won't be caught by surprise.

But simply being motivated and not accepting uncertainty is not enough to be a worrier. You need evidence that things can go badly. So the third rule is, treat all of your negative thoughts as if they are really true.

If you think someone doesn't like you, it's probably true. If you think you'll get fired, count on it. If you think that someone else is upset, then it's all about you. The more you treat your thoughts as if they are reality, the more you will be able to worry. 

But why should you care what people think about you or how you do your job? Why should it matter to you? 

The fourth rule solves this problem: anything bad that could happen is a reflection of who you are as a person.

If you don't do well on an exam, you are incompetent. If someone doesn't like you, you must be a loser. If your partner is angry, it must mean that you will end up alone and miserable. It's all about who you really are.

But some things are just not a big deal. Why should a loss or a failure be so important? Why worry if it's a small loss or a small failure? 

Because the fifth rule of highly worried people is: failure is unacceptable.

You can think of everything as your responsibility, and if you fail, you think about how everyone will know and how this is entirely the final test of who you are. You can make your worries as powerful as possible by thinking, 'I can never handle any failure.'

Now your worries are really important.

You know they are really important because you feel how powerfully they affect you: knots in your stomach, rapid heart rate, whirring in your ears, headaches, cold sweats, sleepless nights. Now that you notice you have all of these feelings, you need to get rid of them right away. And that's rule six: get rid of any negative feelings immediately.

But wait. You can't get rid of them? They're not going away? That's a bad sign. You should be able to get rid of bad feelings right now. Who knows what they'll turn into if left to fester? Maybe the fact that you can't get rid of those bad feelings means something really awful is about to happen. Maybe there are terrible things you haven't thought of. Maybe you're losing control and that's unacceptable. That's something that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. Therefore the seventh rule is, treat everything like an emergency.

Don't kid yourself by thinking you can wait to get around to handling these things. Everything has to be solved right now---all of your problems, all of your worries, everything. You can lie in bed and go over every single problem that you will face tomorrow or next year and say to yourself, 'I need the answers immediately.'

So far, we are imagining bad stories and treating them like facts to motivate you to be responsible and worry. You're not going to accept any uncertainty; you'll put yourself in the center of every situation and see yourself as a failure. You realize that you emotions have to be completely controlled, and so you will treat everything like an emergency to get rid of any bad thoughts or feelings. 

Now you can go back to the guy in the jungle and tell him that you have the Seven Rules of Highly Worried People...

But wait. Didn't you leave out something? Isn't there something you overlooked? Can you really trust your memory? You forgot the most important thing. You forgot to worry about worrying. You forgot to tell him, 'All of this worrying is going to drive you crazy, give you a heart attack, and ruin your life completely.' How could you forget the eighth rule---the rule that now says, 'Now that you're worried, you've got to stop worrying completely or you'll go crazy and die'?...

In fact, your solutions are the problem. Your rule book makes you worry...

Worry is not simply pessimism; it's a reflection of many different parts of who you are. Once you understand why you worry and why your worry makes sense to you, you can begin to explore some things that you can do---or not do---to help yourself...

Based on the new research, I've developed a seven-step program to help you understand your own 'theory' about worry, and the most effective techniques for defeating your worry and breaking those rules once and for all: 

1) Identify productive and unproductive worry.
2) Accept reality and commit to change.
3) Challenge your worried thinking.
4) Focus on the deeper threat.
5) Turn 'failure' into opportunity.
6) Use your emotions rather than worry about them.
7) Take control of time."---"Introduction"---pg.2-6

Hmm...I wonder how many are *worrying* about getting a mate.

Anyway, if you're interested in copping this gem, you can get it here.



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