Worrying often just comes out of nowhere, and hits us right in the middle of a great day. It can start with just a tiny little thought that passes thru your brain and then STICKS. Have you ever had that experience? You find yourself fixating on it and the strength of it grows and grows until you have a huge knot in your stomach that won’t go away. There goes your beautiful day – everything from that point on becomes colored with your anxiety.
Worry makes you feel like you have very little hope, and fills you with fear of things that probably will not ever come true. OK, sometimes the things that you worry about are actually going to happen – but if you are honest with yourself, most of the things we worry about don’t ever happen or end up being far less significant than originally feared. All that gloom and doom for nothing!
It is hard to have a positive attitude if you are full of worry – but it is not impossible. You know the old saying, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade…”?
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So how can you possibly turn around your feelings when they seem to be spinning out of control?
Here are some tips to gaining a positive attitude when worry seems at its worst:
- Let your worry expire. Give it a time limit so that it doesn’t go on and on. Focus on things that upset you the most for maybe 10 minutes, and only give smaller ones a minute or two. It is helpful to also write down what comes to you – all the terrible outcomes and then STOP. (You could even take that paper with all those horrible things and burn it ceremoniously!)
- Keep busy. If you focus on a task that keeps your mind occupied, it becomes much more difficult to obsess over worrisome thoughts. Exercise is a great way to keep busy, you get the extra benefit of endorphins releasing in your brain and you will start to feel better in spite of yourself!
- Get bored. The opposite of keeping busy is getting bored. If you can make yourself feel bored with the whole topic, you will turn your attention elsewhere. Whatever it is that you afraid of, repeat it over and over to yourself – preferably out loud while looking at yourself in a mirror. Say it enough times and it will lose its power over you, according to Robert L. Leahy, PhD, the author of The Worry Cure: 7 Steps to Stop Worry From Stopping You and the director of the American Institute for Cognitive Therapy in New York City.
- What is the most likely outcome? How certain is it that what you’re worrying about will happen? It probably isn’t very likely to actually occur. The odds are against what you’re worried about. If there truly is nothing you can do to avoid whatever you are worrying about, accept the situation and decide how you will deal with it.
- Try gratitude and appreciation. When you count your blessings instead of your difficulties, you can’t help feeling better. Appreciating a best friend – human or animal – or thinking back about particularly wonderful events in your life boosts your mood and helps you keep a more positive attitude.
According to Dale Carnegie, “Our life is what our thoughts make it.” Cultivate a positive attitude and you will bust your worry cycle and reap the rewards by having a happy and fulfilling life!
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