It can range from a vague, nagging thought at the back of your mind to a vicious cycle of anxiety that is nearly impossible to break. Regardless of how it manifests itself, worry is something we as people have a tendency towards when nervous. We think of all the worst possible things that might happen in a situation; we allow ourselves to worry about the what ifs. But what if the what ifs were good things? What if, when we envisioned things that might happen, they were all great things instead of bad ones? This is the worry cure.
It is not a new idea; doctors advise patients to use guided imagery or visualization to lower their stress and therefore improve their health. Athletes use creative visualization to imagine themselves excelling. When I am sick, or nervous about something that feels big and important, I must say, I’m probably worrying about it instead. Why? Why do we have this tendency to imagine only the worst? With a new year on the horizon, with new hopes and goals and resolutions for ourselves, let’s re-imagine our future. Let’s practice the opposite of worry, the worry cure, where instead of picturing everything that could go wrong, we visualize all the good outcomes we might have instead.
The Worry Cure: Seeing is Believing
What do you want to happen in this new year? Do you want to try something new, make a change? Instead of panicking before a job interview, close your eyes and imagine yourself confidently and calmly acing it. Nervous before taking a class, or learning a new skill? Imagine your friendly self chatting and laughing with your classmates. See yourself practicing at your new skill until it becomes less daunting and more enjoyable. Instead of moaning, I never keep my resolutions, imagine that this year you will do just that. Give yourself permission to have beautiful, joyful daydreams. A new year brings countless new chances, for both worry and positive thinking. Acknowledge the worry and then refuse to let it in. There is no room for it; there are too many better things your brain can do with its time.
Of course, a little bit of fear or doubt can sometimes benefit us, like when it prevents us from doing something dangerous, or causes us to proceed with necessary caution. But needless worry does nothing but stress us out and bring us down. It wastes time and energy we could be spending on much more valuable things.
It can be nearly impossible to break free from the cycle of worry – it has such a cold, grasping grip! – but committing yourself to the effort is worth it. When we visualize all of the good things that can happen to us, when we turn that persistent, negative cycle of worry into something positive, we allow ourselves to believe that good things really have the chance to happen to us. We improve our self-worth – you know, I can achieve this if I try- and we let our positive thoughts have a positive influence on our behavior. We can leave the useless worry behind, with a happy, healthy way to start a new year.