Today, Imi talks about fear and fretting, a scared place so many of us have visited or are currently visiting. Enjoy her Tiny Spark and take it to heart. I know I did. I’ve wafted towards windows ever since I read her words. Now you read, too. This might be just the thing to calm your worried mind.
Obsessive compulsive worrying: could we just… not ?
Obsessive Compulsive Worrying (OCW): The medical term for when a person always has to have at least one thing to worry about obsessively at any one time.
I don’t know if that is true, but I do know that I have it. Or at least used to.
- Over-analyzing small details and feelings
- Constantly going over and over the worry in your mind
- Using negative labels for yourself
- Obsessively Googling about your worry
- Believing that the way you feel in that moment will last forever
- Experiencing stress-induced health complaints
I have worried obsessively on and off since I was about 14 years old. I didn’t notice properly until I was nearly 19, when I figured “I must just be a worrier.” I didn’t consider the possibility of change. I just accepted that when I had a spare minute, I would fill it up with worries. Sometimes I never told people my worries. Other times (and my university friends will vouch for this) they would be a topic of conversations both spoken and unspoken for days on end. If I caught myself not fretting, I would sabotage myself and subconsciously search for something new to worry about. (I must add that the majority of this time, I was still quite happy. Before you start to worry.)
At the tender age of twenty-and-three-quarters, my worries became real. Or at least, I thought they did. Ever heard of the acronym F.E.A.R. (False Expectations Appearing Real)? I had it big time. Once I got started, I just couldn’t stop, so they mounted up inside me, saturating me and overloading me. I became really ill. I escalated matters by going over points 1-6 for several months, falling deeper and deeper into the hole. I fed myself the belief that no one would want to talk to me because I had nothing interesting to say. I wasted half a year wallowing.
And then I fought back. One tiny step at a time. I didn’t do anything big or glamorous. I didn’t meet a guru, I didn’t even start yoga.
- If I found myself worrying, I wrote it down and gave myself a specific time that I could deal with it later. I insisted that it wasnt necessary to think about now.
- I took my list of worries, and added all of my current worries. Even the less obvious, wriggly ones. I needed to get them all of them out of my head. I then took myself out for a walk to my special place, sat down and worked through my worries one by one. I effectively CBTed myself. I countered my worries with positive alternatives and reinforced them through repetition. When I was done, I ripped up the sheet of worries and disposed of it somewhere far away.
(Sometimes now if they are mounting up, I admit them aloud just to get them out. Then (this is embarrassing) I blow them away, or slam the door on them, or waft them out of the window and wind it up really quickly, releasing the negative energies far away.)
3. I banned Google. It causes obsessions and worries to multiply seven fold by feeding your negative beliefs under the guise of “truth”. Challenge the beliefs that are being fed to you. If you don’t want to believe something, then don’t! I have grown to realise that positive belief and faith are a hell of a lot stronger than alleged “truth”.
4. I painted. Painting has been truly remarkable for me. It makes my mind go blank. With no worries and no over- analyzing comes a more content, happier and healthier person. It has also brought me immense pride, renewed my confidence again. I make others happy by creating something beautiful and meaningful. Wow.
I repeated these steps for several months consistently. It was not quick, and at some points I would blab that “I feel like I am back at square one”. There is still room for improvement, but I have come SO far. I know I won’t go back because I’m going forward.
Today, let me challenge a common belief. Change is possible. Don’t sweat the little things. You don’t need to worry anymore. You could always just… not.
Do you worry yourself sick?
What helps to calm your fears & concerns?
Upcoming Tiny Spark:
Monday, January 28