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Oh, it's so difficult. It's like telling yourself 'don't think of a pink elephant'. Next thing you are visualizing this big pink thing standing in your room.

 

It has helped me to first make the following (cliche) distinction:

 

* change the things I cannot accept

* accept the things I cannot change

 

First, you can try to categorize your 'element of worry'. Is it something that you can change yourself? Or is there no way you would be capable of changing/influencing it?"

 

I don't know if this will help you, but here goes a bit of history of ilse's life. I was diagnosed with GAD with a depressive tendency years ago. The first time I worried so much it became an obsession that in the end made me so depressed I didn't even get out of bed during the day, was in my first relationship. I was so scared that he would leave me, that I analysed everything that happened between us. Looking back, I realize that there is no way I could have made him love me and commit to me. That was not in my power.

 

Another 'theme' in my anxiety led to some crazy hypochondriac behaviour. An unfortunate incident in my past led me to believe I may be infected with hiv. I obsessed to the point I was convinced I had it. Googled all my 'symptoms', and assumed the worst if they were discussed on pages about aids, I kept imagining myself living on the streets, etc. So THIS was something that I could EASILY change. The 'only' thing that I needed to do was get my blood tested. It took my THREE years to take that step, a month ago I finally got the test. Of course it was negative and for now, I am in fact worry free. Well, of course I worry about the usual crap, like money, if my work could be more perfect, if I will ever live in a better apartment than I do now, etc. But no more obsession.

 

So what do you think? Is your worry something you can actually change? Are you patient enough to take the time to change it? Because I think that we are all at times worried about getting employed, finding a soulmate, money, etc. Not ALL is in your power, but you can take the steps to change the things that YOU can change in your situation.

 

I hope this helps.

 

Ilse

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I'm working on this too. You know what? I'm actually becoming fascinated with my worrying - and I find myself worrying a lot less lately! lol.

 

Seriously, it works pretty good to get interested in it. Like Ilse was saying, you'll start picking up on 'themes'.

Then you can check to see if you can do anything about it or not.

If you can do something - you can relax by saying "At such-and-such time, I will brainstorm and work at that problem"

If you can't do anything about it - you can relax by simply noticing you are worrying and that it is fruitless. (Takes practice).

 

Have you ever caught yourself worrying about worrying?

*Just tonight I realized I was doing this and burst out laughing! Worrying about worrying....it's hilarious.

 

good luck in pursuit of worrylessness. You're not alone.

 

Oh yeah and Ilse: Congrats on going to get that test, girl! Yahhh!

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Hahaha, thanks itsallgrand!! I can recommend it to anyone who has reason to get tested, not matter how slight the risk. Get it over with. (it took me only 3 years lol).

 

Another thing. If you are worrying about a lot of things you cannot directly change or do things about: I have learned that concentrated worrying for a set amount of time helps as well. It sounds ridiculous but it has helped me to gain more perspective. When I was worried about my LDR 2 years ago, I decided to 1. only worry in the shower (so I could symbolically wash the negative thoughts away) and if that was not enough 2. set an alarm clock and worry intensely (imagining all worst case scenarios) for like 10 minutes. I had to go back to study and work after that 10 minutes.

 

I took cognitive behavioural therapy, and learned to make a worry-exercise by writing down:

 

1. situation that led to worry (like "Partner didn't call me today")

2. feeling about that situation (like "anxiety, pain,...")

3. immediate thought (like "he's gonna break up with me")

4. behaviour (like "sat down worrying, call friend to see if she also thinks he will break up with me, ...")

 

and then you start to change 4. and 5. into alternatives. What else could you THINK when this situation is the case? And how can you alter your behaviour?

 

For me it was like this:

 

5. Alternative thought: "That he doesn't call does not mean he's not in love with me, and even if he is not in love with me, that does not make me an unlovable person"

6. Alternative behaviour: "go back to work and focus on my duties for the day".

 

Worrying for me led to total unproductivity, which could really make me depressed. The hours that I should be writing papers, reading articles, I wasted on worrying about things that I mostly couldn't change anyway (this was when I was still studying).

 

Ilse

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