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Worrying “At least a portion of your mind is really kind of stupid. If it had an innate intelligence, it would remind you of the things you needed to do only when you could do something about them.” [David Allen - Getting Things Done]

In his famous book, David Allen says we often worry at very inappropriate times:
- You are having a nice dinner, and in the back of your mind you’re worrying about tomorrow’s meeting.
- You are enjoying a well deserved holiday, but you can’t stop thinking of what you’ll need to do when you get back home.

In order increase both productivity and peace of mind, Allen proposes a comprehensive method for “Getting Thing Done,” which could help you becoming more effective.

On the other hand  if you don’t worry just of your to-do list  Allen’s book will be of limited help in calming your mind: you need other tools to deal with other kinds of worries.

So what are you worrying about? Take a look at the following list, and see if you recognize yourself at least in one of the 7 worrier profiles. I’ll then describe a set of strategies which you can use to reduce your worries.

1- To-Dos worrier. You often think of work-related tasks when you are at home, or at a time when you can’t do anything about them. The number of personal and business activities you are carrying on feels daunting, and you have the impression that you might forget something important.

2- Frequent worrier. Frequent worries and fears distract you from your day-to-day activities, and you are troubled by a feeling that something bad is going to happen.

3- Social worrier. You are afraid of being seen negatively by others and sometime you avoid social activities for fear of humiliation.

4- Separation worrier. You constantly worry about your loved ones when they are away.

5- Obsessive worrier. You have unwanted thoughts or behaviors that seem impossible to stop or control. You may be troubled by obsessions  such as a recurring worry that you forgot to turn off the oven  or by scary thoughts which make you feel dirty. You may occasionally suffer from uncontrollable compulsions, such as washing your hands over and over.

6- Phobic worrier. You have unrealistic or exaggerated fear of a specific object, activity, or situation that in reality presents little or no danger. Common phobias include fear of animals such as snakes and spiders, fear of flying, and fear of heights.

7- Post-traumatic worrier. Bad stuff has happened to you, and it keeps coming back. You might experience flashbacks, nightmares, and intrusive memories. Sometime you feel detached, uninterested, and emotionally numb. You generally avoid activities, people, and places that remind you of the trauma. Occasionally, you experience difficulties in concentrating and going to sleep.

Do you recognize yourself at least in one of the 7 types of worriers? If you do, the strategies below will help you calming your mind. Pick your favorite one and use it today.

- Write it down! The simple act of writing down what’s burdening you will make you feel instantly relieved.

- Put your worries in a box. Write down your worries on a piece of paper and lock them in a box. If you feel you must absolutely worry a little, take the paper back, ruminate on your problem, and then put your worry back in the box where it belongs to.

- Get things done. Find your ideal system of getting things done and use it regularly. David Allen’s book and Leo Babuta’s blog will point you in the right direction.

- What are you feeling? You think a thousand thoughts every day. Feelings tell you which thoughts really matter, so if you are not in touch with what you feel, you might mistakenly believe that everything that crosses your mind is worthy of a detailed investigation… When the worry strikes, concentrate on your feelings: are you mad, sad, scared or glad?

- Do something. Find an engaging task which requires your full attention, and focus your energies on completing it quickly and well. The task should require a certain level of skill to be performed.

- Set aside specified time and place to worry. Limit worry and obsession only to those times, and only when you are in your chosen worry place. The worry place must be difficult to access  definitely neither your bed nor your desk at work.

- Disputing. You can monitor and then argue against the negative things that you say to yourself. Prof. Martin Seligman calls it disputing, and he has successfully used it as cognitive treatment of depression. In fact, you can use disputing to reduce and stop negative thoughts related to any unpleasant events which have happened in your life. When something bad happens, there are three dangerous things you might say to yourself:
  ● “It’s all my fault!” If you always feel personally responsible for everything bad that happens to you, then you might want to ask yourself a question: could it always be your fault? Whilst it pays to learn from mistake, you shouldn’t blame yourself for something which wasn’t your fault.
  ● “It will never change!” Maybe you got laid off, but that doesn’t mean that you will never find a new job, or that you will always be fired. Things can change for the better.
  ● “It is going to undermine everything I do!” If you have an argument with your girlfriend, that doesn’t mean you have to argue with your boss too. A problem in a specific area of your life doesn’t need to affect everything else.

- Thought Replacement. When an unwanted thought enters your mind, replace it with a healthy and rational one. For example, if you think “My girlfriend has left me because I am unlovable”, you can use disputing to substitute this thought with a more rational one such as: “My girlfriend has left me because we have very different interests and passions.”

- Image Replacement. If you have a tendency to visualize negative images, experiment with replacing such negative images with positive ones.

- Aversive Replacements. If you have a tendency to think of an unhealthy behavior in an acceptable manner, try replacing these acceptable images with negative ones. For example, thoughts of cigarettes could be replaced by "cancer sticks'' or "coffin nails.''

- Thought Stopping. When thinking an unwanted thought, immediately yell STOP. The yell can be out loud or only in your mind. Continue yelling STOP until the unwanted thought ceases. Experiment with visualizing a stop sign, and with combining thought stopping with other techniques.

Do you like this post or not? Either way, I would really appreciate it if you could review it on StumbleUpon

Disclaimer: EvenHappier.com is no substitute for individually tailored professional advice.


I think another great method, especially when worrying about past actions or events, is to remember to live life in the present. You can't change the past, but you can make different choices in the future. My mantra is "from this point forward." Love the blog!

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