Are you looking for ways to break the worry cycle? Guest columnist Renaye Thornborrow, founder and CEO of Adventures in Wisdom, shares 8 steps to reducing rumination
Our minds are incredibly powerful. They have the ability to help us create amazing things; or, they can us! The perfect example is worrying.
We've all experienced worry — it's a natural human phenomenon. Worry happens when we have thoughts or emotions about a potential threat or problem in the future — something going wrong or something bad happening.
Worry can serve a purpose if we use it to help us identify issues that we can get prepared for. However, it can be detrimental, and an energy drain, if it leads to rumination (to think about it over and over) and anxiety. And most people, especially kids, are never taught how to break through the worry cycle!
The key to alleviating the worry cycle is to shift worry from anxiety and rumination to concern and preparation.
In this article we will look at a process you can use to step through your worries and several strategies you can use to ease your mind. And this process works for kids too!
1. The first step is to acknowledge your worries – give them time. The more you try to resist something the more it will persist. It's like trying not to imagine a green monkey wearing a big orange cowboy hat sitting on a purple giraffe in the middle of your kitchen...you just can't help it. The best way to stop rumination is to write it down and then go to step two.
2. Second, put boundaries around your worries. Set aside a specific time to focus on your worries. During this time, write down anything that you're worried about. If something comes up later in the day...just add it to the list and tell yourself that you can think about it tomorrow during your allotted time. The process of writing the worry down lets your mind rest because it knows you've got it on the agenda.
3. Third, change your language. Language is a very powerful tool – it creates our experience. Instead of using the word "worried" which automatically triggers a feeling of anxiety in most people, use the word "concerned" followed by the word "prepared". For example instead of saying, "I am worried about the economy and losing my job" you could say, "I am concerned about the economy and losing my job. To get prepare I am going to examine my budget and add to my emergency savings fund. I might also consider a part time job."
(How might you use this with a child? If you hear a child say, "I'm worried I'm going to fail this test". You can help her shift her language to something like, "I'm concerned about this test. To get prepared I'm going to ask the teacher for an extra practice sheet.")
4. Fourth, shift you worry into action. Tell your mind what you are going to do about the situation. For each concern, map out a plan. Put it in writing so that each time that concern comes up you can ease your mind by reviewing your plan.
5. Fifth, focus on what you want, not on what you don't want. Your mind is very powerful. Your thoughts trigger both your conscious mind and your subconscious mind to create whatever you focus on. Supportive self-talk and visualization are powerful tools to help you stay focused on what you want.
6. Sixth, focus on what is working in your life, not on what is not working. Shifting thoughts of worry to thoughts of gratitude can help ease your mind and create positive energy throughout your body. Did you know that multiple research studies have shown that practicing gratitude actually creates happiness? Positive energy and positive thoughts are essential for creating what you want in your life.
7. Seventh, look at what you can control versus what you can't control. If the thing you are worried about is something you can control, such as building up your savings account, then take action on that. However, if it's is something that you have no control over, such as when someone dies, then worrying about it only creates negative energy that doesn't serve you. Depending on your spiritual beliefs, you may want to create a "ritual" or personal practice where you turn over your worries to that which is greater than you.
8. Eight, adopt a personal practice that can help you relax. Many people find that meditation, exercise, or journaling can help them ease their mind. A daily practice of relaxation can help neutralize the impact of worrying
Finally, remember that worrying and rumination doesn't serve you – it steals the beauty of the present moment and can rob you of your happiness. Learning to focus on what you can do versus focusing on things outside of your control can lead to a feeling of personal power versus feeling like a victim of the future.
As I mentioned, worry is a phenomena that our kids will also experience. One of the greatest gifts you can give them is to teach them how to turn worry into action.
For more information about how you can use stories to empower kids Adventures in Wisdom to check out a free story.
Renaye Thornborrow is the founder and CEO of Adventures in Wisdom™, author of The Adventures in Wisdom Life Coaching Program for Kids™ Curriculum, and leader of a worldwide movement to empower kids.
Her company's WISDOM Coach™ Certification program is helping professionals on 5 continents and 14 countries use fun stories and activities to bring personal development and self-leadership skills to kids ages 6-12. Through the stories, kids learn how to handle the ups and downs of growing up, to bounce back from disappointment, to think for themselves and make good decisions, and to go for their dreams and make them happen.
Renaye is a personal development expert, certified coach, and a member of the International Coaches Federation. She is also a retired corporate marketing executive and holds a Bachelor of Science from Texas A&M University and an MBA from the University of Texas. She and her husband of 23 years are the proud parents of 12-year old boy/girl twins.