You wake up at 2 AM worried about the next day and can't get back to sleep. The thoughts that are going through your head demand that you respond now and get the answer immediately. Later in the day, tired from losing sleep, you begin to worry about the next night, the next week, and the doom that seems to hang on the horizon. Wherever you are, whatever time of day---you worry.
Because you respond to your intrusive thought with repetitive thoughts about how to handle the thought, you never quite get away from your worry. What can you do?
Make an Appointment with Your Worries
What if you decided that you would put off the worry until later? Set aside a time of the day-say, 4 pm-when you will sit down and methodically review your worries.
If a worry shows up before or after your WORRY TIME, you jot it down, put it in your pocket and get around to it later.
How will this help?
- You will learn that you can actually set aside a worry until later. It's not in control of you.
- Because you set it aside you can get on with living your life. You can live and breathe in the here and now.
- When you set it aside-and let it go--- you will find that there really was no EMERGENCY to get an answer. The answer can wait.
- When you review your worries at 4 pm you will find that they don't bother you as much. They may seem trivial. This is something to think about the next time an alarm goes off in your head that you have to worry now.
Patients often tell me that they won't be able to do it. They say, "How can I set it aside? I have no control." But think about the many times that you are worried and you are interrupted by something-a call, something happens, something that distracts you. You did set it aside. But you didn't realize it.
Try it now. Start to worry. Then set it aside and describe all the rectangular objects that you see. Go into the details. Stay in the moment, observing.
You have set it aside. The world didn't end.
Think about your worry as a kite that flies away, you still hold the string. Then you let it go.