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 Post subject: Worry Thoughts
PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2013 3:28 am 
admin goddess from hell
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I suspect most of us have them - big time: "worry thoughts".
What if...
...I gain weight
...I lose weight
...I'm not sick enough
...I die
...I can't pay the rent
...people don't like me
...I lose my job
...I can't find a job
...someone hurts me
...[fill in your own blanks]

Worry keeps you in one place; it stops you from fully throwing yourself into something, whether that be recovery or making new friends.

The following article is based on Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT), which uses different premises than DBT and CBT, but very similar skills. How about trying to identify your worry thoughts and practicing these skills with them?

5 Steps to Reduce Worrying and Anxiety
By Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.

Everyone worries from time to time. But for some people, “worry is a way of life,” writes clinical psychologist Chad LeJeune, Ph.D, in his book, The Worry Trap: How to Free Yourself from Worry & Anxiety Using Acceptance & Commitment Therapy. Too much worry can produce anxiety, paralyze productivity and problem solving and cause problems in relationships.

But you’re not powerless over your worry and anxiety. You can move forward. In his book, LeJeune offers a 5-step model to help you cope, whether you’re an occasional worrier or a full-time worrywart.

LeJeune’s model is based on acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). As he writes in The Worry Trap, LLAMP (his acronym for the approach) focuses on “letting go of the struggle to control unwanted thoughts and feelings, being mindfully aware of the present moment, and committing to a course of action that is consistent with what you value most in life.”

Worry & Its Evolution

Before delving into the model, LeJeune says that it’s important to learn how worry works. Imagine you’re hiking along a cliff, he says. Your brain tells you “I might fall,” and you picture yourself falling. This thought helps you realize that you need to be extra careful about where you’re walking. This is “a helpful thought to have,” he says.

However, “when your anxiety is high, you’ll experience that image not as ‘I might fall,’ [but as] ‘I will fall.’” With heightened anxiety, “we’re less able to discriminate [between] the thought that might happen” and the reality. This is called “cognitive fusion,” when “a thought becomes fused with what it refers to.” We experience a thought “as a reality, an almost inevitability.”

Evolutionarily speaking, cognitive fusion is adaptive, LeJeune says. Consider this scenario: A person is sitting in a forest and hears something rustling through the bushes. “It could be something dangerous, like a tiger, or something benign, like a small animal,” LeJeune says. “The brain starts to generate hypotheses about what it could be.” The person who didn’t pay much attention to the thought “It might be a tiger” “got eaten first.” But the other person, whose anxiety shot up, responded by running away. He didn’t wait around to see who the noise belonged to. He assumed the situation was dangerous and got out of there. So “it’s more adaptive in a dangerous situation to experience your thoughts as real.” But this can backfire when the situation isn’t risky, fueling anxiety and worry.

The 5-Step Model

1. Label worry thoughts.

According to LeJeune, this step is about identifying “when the phenomenon of worry is happening.” Most worriers have worries around several similar themes, such as health, their job, relationships and finances. Because people see their worries as facts, it can be hard to distinguish a normal thought from a worry thought.

In the book, LeJeune writes that worry thoughts typically follow patterns such as “what if” thoughts (e.g., “What if I’m terminally sick?” “What if I faint?”) and ruminations. When people ruminate, they typically think and worry about the past, sometimes strongly wishing that they could go back in time and make a different decision. People also can ruminate around the word “Why.” For instance, you might ask yourself “Why is that today there’s a torrent of traffic?” or “Why does this have to happen to me of all people?”

Labeling your worry thoughts lets you know when to apply the model, and helps you start separating yourself from these thoughts.

2. Let go of control.

This step encourages worriers to slow down the fight-or-flight response and relax the body by using “traditional stress management” techniques, LeJeune says. Examples include breathing deeply and relaxing your hands and all your muscles.

But this isn’t to gain control over your anxiety. Trying to overpower worry only ignites anxiety and worry thoughts. When you “have a thought you don’t like, your body responds by struggling physically to control it and escape from it. And that intensifies the thought,” LeJeune says.

So your goal is actually the opposite — to interrupt the urge to stronghold your anxiety. It’s to allow acceptance and mindfulness to enter, LeJeune writes in The Worry Trap. As he says, some people will try to use relaxation techniques as weapons in their anti-anxiety arsenal. They’ll try “to furiously breathe away their anxiety,” or get stressed out because yoga isn’t eliminating their angst. They might walk away from a massage feeling fantastic, but they let the inevitable sprinklings of stress undo that relaxation.

It’s unrealistic to think that we can sail through life without any stressors, he says. This perspective also sets people up for more anxiety, he adds, and puts a lot of pressure on yourself.

3. Accept and observe thoughts and feelings.

The goal is to look at your worry thought instead of “looking through it,” LeJeune says. That is, you begin viewing these thoughts as “separate from yourself,” he says. You remind yourself that your thoughts are not reality. They’re not actual events. Separating thoughts from reality is called “cognitive defusion” in ACT.

There are various defusion exercises that can help. For instance, let’s say that you have a fear of earthquakes, and you’re in California for the first time. Not surprisingly, you’re on edge, and every time you hear a loud noise, you think it’s an earthquake. One way to accept and observe this worry thought is by imagining an earthquake gnome, LeJeune says. Imagine the earthquake gnome saying the worry thoughts in a squeaky voice. You might say, “He’s not very smart. I’m not going to listen to him.”

You aren’t trying to rid yourself of these thoughts but you’re trying to distance yourself from them.

4. Be mindful of the present moment.

Mindfulness means “getting out of your head” and “being aware of your immediate surroundings,” using all your senses. You do this in a nonjudgmental and compassionate away, according to LeJeune. He gives the example of an exercise: “picking a color, like red, and for the next two minutes, [you] notice everything that’s the color red.”

The importance of being mindful, LeJeune writes, isn’t to distract yourself. It’s to support observing your thoughts and accepting them.

5. Proceed in the right direction.

Worry “takes us out of the moment and away from connecting with the way we want to move forward,” LeJeune says. We become “focused on what could happen.” Oftentimes, we find ourselves placating our anxiety. Our anxiety might drive many of our choices. In fact, our anxiety might drive our lives.

Instead, the key is to make conscious choices based on your values. Values propel people forward, and give us a rationale or purpose for proceeding, even while anxiety is present. LeJeune likens this to sailing a boat. Consider that “The journey in the boat is your life,” and you’ve got two instruments: a compass and a barometer. When you focus on anxiety, it’s like you’re steering the boat with a barometer, which provides you with the weather, not the direction. Using a barometer means you avoid any potential bad weather and you sail where the waters are calm. But using it to steer the ship also gives you no sense of direction. The compass, however, represents your values. When you use the compass, you know where you’re going, “even if the water is rough or the weather is dicey” (or you’re experiencing anxiety or difficult emotions).

“The more clarity you have [about your values and direction], the more willing you are to do the work.” When thinking about your values, avoid focusing on society’s standards. As LeJeune emphasizes, values are very individual. Consider what “make[s] your life worth living,” he says.

Your attitude about coping with worry and anxiety is also important. LeJeune says that, understandably, many people with acute anxiety are serious and upset and think they have to get a handle on their anxiety immediately. He suggests using a “playful and lighter manner,” which is how he approaches working with his clients.

APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2011). 5 Steps to Reduce Worrying and Anxiety. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 15, 2013, from

Psych Central

Whispered words of wisdom,
Let it be.

~~ John Lennon

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 Post subject: Re: Worry Thoughts
PostPosted: Fri Apr 19, 2013 6:13 am 
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Im going to make a list of today's worry thoghts (this is not a comprehensive list it's just off the top of my head today)

a good line to remember - "don't worry, be happy"

what if i get 'fat'
what if my children get an ED?
I have no money
im so tired
what if I can't teach the songs I need to teach at work tomorrow
what if people see im really greedy?
what if i lose someone I love
what if i start to binge
what if i cant stop eating....

the list could be quite endless really, but I guess I can now look at the steps listed above and see how I can change this.

"We have nothing to fear, but fear itself"

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 Post subject: Re: Worry Thoughts
PostPosted: Tue Feb 18, 2014 12:05 am 
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Another take on this, with a few more ideas:

8 Tips to Help Stop Ruminating
By Lauren Feiner

Do you constantly replay or obsess over negative situations? Known as rumination, it can feel like a broken record. Your mind rehearses the play-by-play of what led to that horrific breakup or missing a deadline at work. Even when everything is going well, we tend to hyperfocus on the one negative thing that happened during the day, like the time our boss criticized us in front of our colleagues.

Reflecting on past experiences can be helpful in problem-solving and overcoming dilemmas, but brooding rumination takes this to the next level. It offers few new insights and often serves to intensify our negative feelings. We become narrowly focused on the things that are not going well instead of seeing the larger picture. These ruminative thoughts can keep us up late at night overanalyzing the situation.

According to Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, Ph.D., professor at Yale University, research has shown that rumination is associated with a variety of negative consequences, including depression, anxiety, PTSD, substance use, and binge-eating.

What can be done to stop ruminating? Here are some tips that may help.

Identify the thought or fear. What is your biggest fear? Maybe you are afraid of getting fired or looking foolish in front of others. Journaling can be a great way to clarify the underlying fear.

Think about the worst-case scenario. This may sound like an awful suggestion, but we can often handle the worst-case scenario, which takes away the power of the original thought. Ask yourself two questions:
  • What is the worst thing that can happen?
  • Can I handle that?

Most likely, the answer is yes. Human beings are very resilient. Remember, sometimes our biggest hardships can turn into our biggest growth experiences. For example, I once worked with a client who was devastated after losing his job. He survived it, and as it turned out, this ended up being a blessing in disguise. It allowed him to find a position that fit his interests and lifestyle, leading to a more fulfilling and meaningful career.

Let go of what you can’t control. Ask yourself “what can I change, if anything?” If you cannot change the situation, let it go. For things you can change, set up a list of small goals and make the appropriate changes.

Look at mistakes as learning opportunities. According to David Burns, Ph.D., assistant professor at Stanford University, and author of Feeling Good, “the quickest way to find success is to fail over and over again.” For example, I was once 30 minutes late for an interview. I did not get the job and I became very self-critical of my tardiness. Once I asked myself “what is the lesson I learned?” I quickly calmed down and applied this lesson to future experiences.

I now leave my house one hour early for interviews, which has served as a valuable lesson. No need to continue to berate myself. In addition, frequently remind yourself how far you’ve come. Every time you make a mistake, you learn something new.

Schedule a worry break. Schedule 20 to 30 minutes a day to worry and make the most of it. This allows for a time and place to think about all your biggest insecurities while containing it to a specific period of time. At other times of the day, remind yourself that you will have time to contemplate later.

Mindfulness. We spend so much time thinking about past mistakes or worrying about future events, that we spend very little time in the here and now. A good example of this is every time we find ourselves on “autopilot” while driving a car.The practice of mindfulness is a great way to reduce our “thinking” selves and increase our “sensing” selves in the here and now. For example, ask yourself what you hear, feel, smell, see and taste. This can help ground you in the present moment. Mindfulness is an important skill for enjoying the significant moments in life. Enjoying coffee with a friend can be disrupted if we begin thinking about all the things we need to do that day. When you notice your mind wandering, gently guide it back to the present.

Exercise. Go for a walk. A change of scenery can disrupt our thoughts and give us new perspective.

Try therapy. If ruminative thoughts are interfering with living the life you want to live, consider reaching out. Counseling is a great way to learn how to use these techniques with the help and guidance of a professional.


Whispered words of wisdom,
Let it be.

~~ John Lennon

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 Post subject: Re: Worry Thoughts
PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 11:44 pm 
admin goddess from hell
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More tools to cope with worrying:

What, You Worry?
By Andrea F. Polard
March 6, 2014

We all need some fear in our lives, but it can spin out of control.

I don’t think anyone in his or her right mind wishes to be completely fearless. At least after the fact of a close encounter we can appreciate when our internal warning signal is aligned with a red traffic light, preventing us to cross the street and become roadkill. However, I don’t know anybody who appreciates being afraid for no good reason, or even just anxious about future events -- which is the definition of worry.

Once we start worrying above and beyond what is needed for our survival, worry builds on worry and can spin out of control. The question is what to do about worrying when it makes no sense. In my opinion, the answers below are all good, but it is up to you to find which one or ones work the best.

1. Don’t Believe Everything You Think

Thinking is a wonderful tool, but when it is unclear or overused, it can also wreak havoc. The most intelligent person in the world can fall victim to muddled thinking. There are so many errors we can make, listed by cognitive psychologists. The most fundamental remedy here is to ask simply, “Is what I think true?” You can write down the dialectic arguments to gain clarity, but the mere question will already put some distance between you and your worry. If you overuse your thinking, you may have to learn to put down your tool that’s gone over to the dark side. Questioning the very act of thinking may be a good beginning, followed by relaxation techniques. If this does not change you profoundly, you might have to...

2. Desensitize Yourself

The story goes: An angry man went to a Zen master and complained about his wife’s wrong-doing with righteous indignation. The master advised him to let himself become completely filled with hate — of course with his wife not in proximity. Then the angry man was supposed to ask himself if he felt better. He didn’t and then gave up his anger altogether. Viktor Frankl would’ve called this intervention paradox. If you have the right constitution, you might want to worsen your worry and learn to tolerate the worst case scenario. It is possible that you notice right then that it isn’t the end of the world after all. On the other hand, you may have to become more curious and...

3. Learn From Your Anxiety

Your anxiety might just be your best teacher ever. In Zen Buddhism, which is integrated in Zen Psychology, there is no running away from your subjective experiences but a turning toward and becoming present with them. While experiencing the worry, you might want to ask yourself what it wants to tell you and what its origin is. Learning about the experience while paying attention to it in a meditative way is putting further distance between you and the experience (see Chapter 9 of my book) also informs you of the deeper obstacles that you need to face. Those who can use this remedy successfully come out stronger and wiser than ever. There is an upside to being forced to wrestle with your inner demons. However, most everybody must also train the brain to create new pathways and...

4. Become Mindful

The worried mind is accustomed to seeing only the negative, ignoring the rest of life which is actually an awe-inspiring spectacle of beauty, abundance, and boundless opportunity. Surely, all humans are bestowed with a negative bias by Mother Nature which is a propensity to react to and memorize a negative before a positive event.* In order to fully understand worry, we need to know that this bias is there because we encountered multiple physical threats in our evolutionary history but also potential competitors. We worry that others surpass us. Noticing the positive, love, and collaboration is way harder than noticing the negative, hatred, and envy. Becoming mindful means that we train our brain to notice our whole ordinary existence. Instead of honing in on threats, we need to hone in on what is right in our life, which is the “little” things, such as that we are breathing, the beautiful sky, the flower in the crevice. What’s in your perception? New, more positive focal points are to cure you from worrying. If they don’t, you might have to...

5. Question Your Entire Value System

The worrier worries because she or he operates in the physical world in which everything is relative and hierarchical. It seems dismal. You can never be sure of things. It is easy for humans to suffer as we are so aware of the uncertainty in life. The most powerful remedy here is to question whether this relative existence matters as much as we are tempted to believe. What if Mother Nature bestowed us with the gift of a negative bias while there is no hierarchy in reality? What if we are all special and interconnected within one amazing whole called life? The most powerful remedy to worrying may just be the access of the absolute dimension in which we relate and realize, there’s nothing further to accomplish. Life’s a gift. When we realize how great a gift, we may just relax into this reality and celebrate whenever possible.


Psychology Today

Whispered words of wisdom,
Let it be.

~~ John Lennon

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