Monday, August 8, 2011

Seven Days Sober: Worry Journaling

"I am an old man and I have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened." ~ Mark Twain

Read my post on Worry if you haven't already. Worrying is something that everyone does, and most of the time we don't need to. Too much worry can paralyze us, especially in early sobriety when we are still working on ways of dealing with stress without using alcohol. There are interesting statistics regarding the things we worry about:

  • 40% never happens – so in essence we are wasting our time by worrying.
  • 30% of what we worry about has already happened. Learn to “let go” and forgive yourself and others. You cannot change the past – no one can. Accept it for what it is and go on.
  • 12% are needless worries, such as what someone else thinks about us.
  • 10% are petty and unimportant such as we worry about what’s for dinner, we worry about being late, we worry about what to wear.
  • 8% of what we worry about actually happens. Of this percentage…
  • 4% of our worries that happen are beyond our control. We cannot change the outcome. These worries may include our health, the death of a loved one or an impending natural disaster. Often times the reality of these events are more bearable than the worry.
  • 4% of what we worry about we have some if not all control over the results. Basically I think this is the consequences of our actions or inaction on the problems and challenges we face.

Dale Carnegie in "How to Stop Worrying and Start Living" gives the advice that we should prepare for the worst and hope for the best. We must accept the worst possible outcome and then take action to improve upon it. For many of us, the worst possible outcome includes drinking. If we immediately remove that option from the table, we have already improved "the worst that could happen", and things will certainly look up from there!

Here is a suggestion for worry journaling. You may wish to create a separate section in your journal just for this.

  1. List your worry at the top of a clean page. Be as detailed as you can regarding the worst possible outcome.

  2. Pause and center yourself. Now is the time to recite an affirmation or Statement (#4, Problems bother me only to the degree I permit them to, is a perfect one for this). Open yourself to all solutions.

  3. Consider: Is this worry something I can control? How much of it is within my control?

  4. If the worry isn't within your control, list the ways you might let go. You could create an affirmation to say when you find yourself worrying about this again. Say to yourself, I release this worry to the Universe, it is not mine to bear.

  5. If there are parts of the worry you can control, make a list of those things you can and those you can't. Release the parts you can't control as in step 4.

  6. List possible solutions to the things you can control. Also list things (drinking should be at the top of this list!) that you should not do in response to this worry.

  7. Finally, make a plan that includes a successful resolution. Make your steps small and doable.

Do the first thing on your plan. Make notes, did it work? How do you feel about the worry now? Continue through your plan. If something doesn't work, go back and list other solutions. Don't be afraid to adjust, just keep trying until you reach the end of your plan successfully (and you will be successful!) . Once you have conquered your worry, you may wish to put a gold star on the top of the page to reward your diligence and effort.

Worry needn't paralyze you. Take charge of your life and conquer those worries and fears!

How to Stop Worrying and Start Living

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