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How to Worry Well

October 23, 2016 by Diane

Last weekend, it rained. Hard. And steady.

When it rains hard and steady in California, we stay indoors. We don’t know what that stuff is pouring down from the skies, and if we can’t go out in shorts and flip flops, we just don’t.

So indoors I stayed. In my box of a playhouse.

I felt like a caged animal, which is sometimes how I feel in my head. Imagine my delight when I discovered a program on PBS called The Healing Mind. I tuned in, and although my reception was spotty (because I’ve still got squirrels in the doohickey), I got the gist of what Dr. Martin Rossman had to say about worry. The good, the bad, and the huh? what should I do about it?

Worry is something we all do, sometimes to the point of driving us squirrelly. But according to Marty, we can learn to worry well.

A worry well? Where we drop our worries and make wishes?

No. But that’s an interesting idea.

Worrying well looks something like this:

Take a sheet of paper, and divide it into three columns. Label the columns:

Good Worries

Bad Worries

I Don’t Know Worries

Then list all those nuclear nuggets rattling around in your head, all those worry thoughts.

Is the worry something you can do something about? Then it’s a good one. Is it something you can’t do anything about? It’s a bad one. The rest go in the “I Don’t Know” column.

Now, for the good worries, decide on steps you can take to deal with them. Brainstorm. Write down your ideas. Make an action plan.

For the bad worries, visualize a positive outcome. Visualize what you’d like to have happen. This doesn’t guarantee that it will happen, but at the very least, it will help you feel better.

For the worries you don’t know how to handle, ask your wise self for advice. According to Marty, we use only a small portion of our brain, thinking. The rest of it, the vast uncharted territory, is where imagination and wisdom resides.

You don’t think you’re wise? Think again.

If a friend asked you for advice about a problem, you’d have an answer. Where does that wisdom come from?

Your wise self.

So lie down, or sit in your comfy cozy chair, close your eyes, breathe deeply from the abdomen, relax your muscles, and visualize your wise advisor. Ask your advisor what you can do about your specific concern. And listen for the answer.

I was eager to jot down my worries, and found that most of them fell under the “I Don’t Know” column. Just seeing them written down in their various columns lifted a weight from my soul.

Our minds are tricky buggers. But, as Marty says:

You are not your mind. You have a mind, but you are not your mind.

There’s a part of us that can observe our thoughts. Which means, we have the power to choose what we want to think, or not think. We have the power to change our thoughts, our brain chemistry, and its wiring.

We have the power!

Here’s another interesting tidbit:

Worry is a thinking activity. Anxiety is our emotional response. Stress is our physical response.

To tamp down our anxiety and stress levels, we need to use our heads. We need to nip it in the bud at the source of the problem: our minds.

So breathe deeply, relax, and go to your imaginary safe place, somewhere the rain don’t pour. And start visualizing.

Wanna learn more? Get the book, The Worry Solution.

Here’s a guided imagery by Marty Rossman.


  1. Eliza says:

    Good solution to a very human problem. Yes, we are NOT our minds!

  2. Michelle says:

    I can’t tell you how much I needed to read this today. 🙂

  3. Pearl Allard says:

    “Worry is a thinking activity. Anxiety is our emotional response. Stress is our physical response.” Thanks for that, Diane. Really does point to the importance of what we think!

    • Diane says:

      And they’re just thoughts! What are thoughts? Can you weigh them? Are they visible? Can you smell them? Can you touch them? No, no, no, and no. But they have so much power!

  4. Bun Karyudo says:

    Sometimes our minds are our own worst enemies. Most of my worst disasters only happened in my head and never materialized in real life.

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