We are all familiar with worrying. Those overwhelming thoughts that sometimes seem to crawl out of nowhere into our mind and then they sit there....and stick...and stick even longer, deeper, growing, getting darker, building negative thought chains....creating a knot in the stomach, suffocating, really bothering us.
Worrying thoughts have the power to set the mood for the rest of the day and evening. Everything light and beautiful suddenly becomes overshadowed with a dark cloud, seems to be gray and meaningless, a mountain to just let go and move on.
This overthinking can be replayed in the head for hours and eats a lot of energy. All fighting and resistance is useless, when worries have their grip on us. In the end we just feel even more anxious, tense and exhausted.
The more we worry, the more open questions turn up. All those "why, why, why.."-Questions we will never receive an answer to. No release and no solution is in sight.
Can we control something so overwhelming? And how?
One way to take back control over those unpleasant thoughts and feelings is to create a special time for those worries.
“Time for worries?”, you may ask. Yes, you are allowed to worry, because as you may already have experienced, fighting and resisting doesn't solve the issue. Suppressing those hurtful thought chains makes them even more powerful and deeply rooted over time. Worries that are not acknowledged do not disappear, they scream louder, become more stubborn and can create serious health issues.
So, give those worries permission to be there at a certain time, a time you determine. That is already a first step to take back control.
You set the rules.
Just begin with creating a time and space for those worries to be present, preferably in the early evening. Make sure that you still have plenty of time before you go to bed, because you don't want to take your worries with you into your sleep. An ideal moment could be a time before other activities, like for example preparing dinner, cleaning the dishes, sorting stuff, relaxing.
Find a place, where you won't be disturbed and you can feel comfortable. You might want to have some nice background music on and something to drink beside you. Have a pen and paper ready and set a timer. Allow yourself to worry for around 15-20 minutes. If “Worry Time” gets too long you might not be able to find the way out as easy and create new circles of negative thinking.
Begin writing down all of your worries, when the timer starts to tick. You can really indulge in all your worries, no matter how big or small, this is the time to worry! Celebrate it.
When the time is up, STOP immediately! Drop the pen, turn the paper. Be consequent. You have had enough time to get rid of all those thoughts. You can rip the sheet and throw it away. There is no need to re-read and to keep that document. "Worry Time" is over this time.
Once it is done you can move on to all those other activities you had in mind before. This will help you to let go of the thinking process and distract you from continuing to worry.
Should those worries arise throughout the day, know it's OK. There is no necessity to avoid them. You can be aware of them, make a little note in a notebook and leave them alone till you have your “Worry Time”. Do not punish yourself for having those worries popping up, just deal with them, when it is their time. You can decide and control reasonably, when and how much time, energy and space your worries can take.
It is a playful way to deal with worries and it allows you to create a choice in times, when you didn't think you would have a choice before. Accepting worries reduces the feeling of helplessness and overwhelm and you get to control your thought processes. Recognizing you can actually control the chatter in your head hands the power back to you. Thoughts are just thoughts. They can come and they can go. Do you want to think them now or later? What meaning and interpretation will you give them?
With practice, you will begin to notice that you don’t need as much “Worry Time”, and you can reduce the number of times you practice this per day or per week.
You learn to acknowledge your worries, you give them space and time, you can let them out. That's what they need. They want your attention, need to be heard instead of ignored and fought. Now with time you can make peace with them and they will make peace with you.
Should you have difficulties to let go of the thoughts after your official “Worry Time”, just think of a box. Create this box in your inner mind as vivid as you can. It might be made of wood or metal, maybe you paint it in different colors. Does it have a lock and what kind of lock could that be?
Once you have this box, put all those thoughts in there and lock the box. Find a place to store that box as long as you need. You can reach your box when you want to deal with your worries in your next “Worry Time”.