reasons why we have useless, unpleasant worries, perhaps we can
learn to stop the excessive internal critic.
Worrying is often a spiral starting with a what if thought, such as
what if something terrible happensthen what if something else
awful follows that, and so on through a series of what ifs. The body
tightens up. The mind fills up with more and more thoughts about
mounting problems and looming catastrophes. You feel overwhelmed
by the fantasies. The solution, according to Deanne Rapich (see
(1) Recognize you are being inundated by your own negative
imaginings. So, get a good grasp of those thoughts by writing brief
descriptions of your what if thoughts and fantasies so you can clearly
identify the dreaded thoughts and fears as soon as they occur. Many of
these ideas will be old habits of thought and foolish improbable notions
that have shaken you up and put you down for years. Go through the
worrisome what if thoughts you recorded and try to figure out your
basic fears or core beliefs. Often you are afraid that people will get
mad at you or judge you badly. Sometimes, we fear making stupid
mistakes or doing something that would shock or offend others.
(2) The second step is to develop a more reasonable, more
accurate, more positive expectation of what will happen. Ask yourself
if the feared what if event occurred, what would really happen after
that? Question your extreme predictions, for example, that others
might not like something you do but everybody will not hate you
those who get upset will not stay bent out of shape forever. Ask
yourself what are the chances you could avoid making the mistakes
you worry about and/or learn some new skills or a different approach?
Now you can replace the exaggerated awful idea about what will
happen with a more accurate, less worrisome expectation. At this
point, you are prepared to quickly attack the what if thought the
next time it occurs.
(3) The third step is, of course, to reinforce the new positive
beliefs by repeating the ideas over and over. You can build new habits
of thought. Almost certainly millions of people have learned, entirely
on their own, to avoid depressing worries, to put them out of mind.
See the worry section in Chapter 5
course, be a worrier without being perfectionistic.
A tourist approached three men working with huge blocks of stone and asked, "What are
you doing?" One said, "Bustin' my butt cutting hard stone." "Earning only five dollars a
day," frowned another. "Building a great cathedral!" said the third with a smile.