Chapter Four

Wipe Away Worries

 

Do you worry a lot? Worry about your health, your job, your family?!

Worrying is a major issue for most people. Worrying can rob you of your peace of mind. It can lead to unnecessary anxiety and stress. It can make you obsessive and controlling (to the annoyance of others, especially your loved ones). It can make life difficult for you and those around you. And it can lead to insomnia, anxiety, panic attacks, TMS, and more.

Yet as Mark Twain put it, “I've had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.”

Worrying is a mental habit and a destructive one. When do we develop this destructive mental habit? Perhaps, like most of our mental habits, it begins when we are children facing uncertainties and feeling insecure. This can cause us to catastrophize by imagining the worst possible outcomes for any minor or major incident, whether it’s traveling on an airplane or a family member being late. This can cause a lot of undue stress, anxiety, and tension that cause physical symptoms.

 

 

Why Do We Worry?

When you feel a lack of control and feel insecure one way to feel in control and secure is to think of all the things that can go wrong and prepare for them, at least in your mind.

Worry gives the illusion that you are doing something to deal with an upcoming challenge but in reality, it is only an illusion. It is an illusion because when a worrier needs to travel on an airplane all of his worrying about what can go wrong will not make a difference on how the flight will go.

A worrisome person is always rehearsing in her mind for the worst case scenario and getting ready for them thinking that will protect her, instead of living in the moment and feeling secure, knowing that whatever happens leads to something great.

That is what this book is about. Instead of living with the illusion of trying to control external circumstances, you develop your positive mental and emotional muscles and make them so strong that you can withstand and overcome whatever challenge comes your way.

One serious problem with worrying is that worry begets more worry. The more you worry the more you worry. The more anxious you get. The more sleepless you get and it really does not help you deal with what’s coming up in the future.

The good news is that even though worry is a major issue for most people you can easily take control of this destructive mental habit.

One Storm, Two People

To understand how worrying can impact a person’s health and life let’s look at how Robert and Amy react when they learn of an expected storm approaching by early Monday morning.

They both decide to leave for work ½ hour earlier to accommodate for the stormy weather.

Robert does not sleep well as he worries about the difficult driving conditions. He wakes up feeling tired and with a stiff neck. Hearing the sound of rain and wind makes him feel anxious. Images of bad traffic, difficult driving conditions, and possibly be in a car accident come to his mind. The entire drive he is worried expecting other cars to hit his car or something terrible happens. He gets to work stressed, his mouth is dry, he has a headache and feels completely exhausted.

On the other hand, Amy who had been through my coaching program slept well. When she goes to the bathroom, looks in the mirror, and gets into her power pose. She imagines herself to be a lioness feeling strong and powerful and repeats her power phrases three times.

“I am fearless, relentless, unstoppable, and a fighter!”

She knows this quick boost of positive energy every morning sets the tone for the rest of her day and attracts to her positive people, circumstances, and opportunities. She leaves her home excited and looking forward to the adventures that await her. As she drives, she is focused on her driving.  Anytime she feels tense due to difficult driving conditions, she smiles broadly, takes a deep breath, and relaxes her shoulders to break the tension. It is not an easy drive; however, she knows in her heart that for sure that this storm will lead to something great and will make her stronger. She stays in control of her thoughts and emotions. She arrives at her office feeling great and ready to take on the day.

So we see how Amy and Robert differ in their response to everyday life events and how it can impact their life and their health.

Worry vs. Concern

In his book, The Power of Self-Coaching, Joseph Luciani, Ph.D., explains why worrying is counterproductive and explains the difference between being worried and being concerned. 

Worry is the incessant, ruminative speculation of what might go wrong--an anticipation of chaos and catastrophe.

Concern, on the other hand, is a calculated consideration and assessment of actual danger. 

Whereas worrying anticipates problems and loss of control, concern is more fact-based and geared toward problem-solving. What do you think serves you better when facing a life challenge: dealing with fact or dealing with fiction?

If you deal with fact, that is being concerned. If you deal with fiction, that is worrying.

Consider the example below and ask yourself whether there is any advantage to worrying.

Robert notices a strange spot on his hand and worries. What if it’s cancer? He does not sleep well, feels anxious, gets a headache, and so on. Why? because he feels insecure and has created a fictional cancer diagnosis in his head.

Amy on the other hand notices the spot on her hand and is concerned. She tells herself, “I’ll call the doctor tomorrow and have it checked. No sense assuming the worst.” She feels calm and in control, enjoys playing with her children, a nice dinner, and sleeps well. Why? because she feels secure and deals with facts and behaves accordingly.

As you can see from this example, if you compare worry with concern, there’s no contest--not if you want to tame TMS triggers, be pain-free, healthy, and enjoy your life. Being concerned is a constructive way of thinking that prepares you for life’s challenges.

 

Being worried, on the other hand, is a circular, destructive kind of thinking that leads to a life of stress, anxiety, tension, or panic.

Here is a head-to-head comparison between worry and concern:

  • worry is insecurity-driven. Concern is circumstance-driven.

  • Worry is subjective over what can go wrong. Concern is an objective assessment of a life challenge.

  • Worry is dealing with what if-thinking. Concern is dealing with the facts of the situation.

  • Worry is highly emotional regardless of the situation. Concern means emotions are appropriate to circumstances.

  • Worry is counterproductive and psychologically destructive. Concern is productive and constructive.

  • Worry is concern plus insecurities.

 

Remember from Chapter Two, your response to an event equals the quality of your life. Amy chooses to be in control of her thoughts and responds in a positive way and lives a life of good quality.

Another reason worrying is destructive is that if you are worrying a lot, you are being negative most of the time and you attract negative people and circumstances into your life just as being positive attracts positive people, circumstances and opportunities into your life.

Wipe Away Worries

As you noticed in Amy’s story, you can wipe away worries by practicing the strategies you learned here thus far. In addition to those the following will empower you more to eventually wipe worries completely away from your thoughts because like other mental habits this one too can be replaced with positive ones.

 

Step 1. Awareness of your thoughts

First step is to get out of your automatic subconscious mode of worrying and become more aware and conscious of your thoughts.

 

For instance, it is Friday afternoon and your boss says she needs to talk to you first thing Monday morning what will go through your mind? Will you worry all weekend long if you are in trouble with the boss or you will be looking forward to a promotion? If a family member is late from work or school and you cannot reach them, do you imagine the worst-case scenario or think they’ll be home soon?

Also, pay attention if you are asking a lot of “what if” questions. People who worry ask a lot of “what if” questions.

  • What if I have an accident?

  • What if I fail my exam?

  • What if my cough is due to Covid-19?

  • What if I offended them by what I said?

  • What if I make a mistake?

  • What if the cyst on my neck is cancerous?

 

So monitor your thoughts to get a sense of how much and how often you worry.

 

Step 2. Fact or Fiction

When you worry you tend to catastrophize and create worst-case scenarios in your mind for most situations. You tend to go beyond facts and create a world fiction—a world that is not a good place to be. So, when you become aware of worried thoughts ask yourself, “Is this fact or fiction?”

Some 30,000 people die each year in auto accidents in the United States. Compare that to the few that die in airplane crashes. Yet, fear of flying can be debilitating for a person who acts based on fiction and not fact.

That same person has no fear of driving, which a greater amount of risk than flying. So there is no factual or rational basis for fear of flying.

It is just fiction.

So if you worry about something ask yourself, “Is this fact or fiction?”

 

Step 3. Helpful or Harmful

After you become more aware of your thoughts and determine if those thoughts are based on fact or fiction, ask yourself, “Is this thought helpful or harmful in my situation?” For example, you are driving in stormy weather and, instead of calmly focusing on your driving, you keep worrying, “What if I get in an accident?” Ask yourself, “Is this thought helping me or harming me get to my destination safely?”

Step 4. Stop Worrying and Start Living

Once you realize the thought is fiction and/or hurting you then just like any negative thought jolt yourself out of your subconscious habit of worrying and say, “(Your name)! Stop it and move forward with your life”

Few examples:

  • Fred! Stop it. You WILL get to work safely.

  • Fred! Stop it. The procedure will be successful.

  • Fred! Stop it. She will be home soon.

 

Time for Action

:

  1. Now write down a daily situation that normally causes you to worry

  2. Then write down what type of thoughts come to your mind

  3. Are these thoughts fact or fiction?

  4. Are these thoughts helpful or harmful?

  5. (Your name)! Stop it and move forward with your life.

 

Remember to repeat this statement as many times as necessary to stop all thoughts of worry. Whenever possible say it while in your power pose imagining your power image.

 

Client story:

“The steps you taught me has helped me bring down my level of worry from 10 to 3. There is one more thing that I do in addition to those steps: I pray for what I want to happen, like arriving to my destination safely, and that calms my worries even more.”

Additional resource: Go to fredamir.com/podcasts and listen to Stop Worrying in Three Easy Steps.

 

 

Chapter Five

Upgrade Your Mind's Operating System

 

How would you like to make a small change that will have a massive positive impact on your health and your life?

It is actually very simple and easy. Change your beliefs about the world and about yourself and you will see amazing improvements in your health and your life. Your beliefs are your mind’s operating system. They can affect your health, relationships, decisions, and every aspect of your life and the way you live every day.

Let me clarify.

Instead of believing life is easy, Janet believes life is hard. How does that belief affect her daily life? She struggles to get out of bed every morning. Why? Because for her life is hard. Getting ready to work feels like a chore. Most days she is grumpy and upset. People rather avoid her because she is so negative most of the time. She experiences various mental, emotional, and physical symptoms. All because her mind is operating based on the belief that life is hard.

What happens if a person has a positive empowering belief about life?

 

Fred believes life is an exciting adventure. He jumps out of bed excited each morning and starts his day wondering what new adventure awaits him. While stuck in a traffic jam he wonders if this delay will help him discover something new at work or meet someone who will change his life for the better. People love to see him and interact with him. When he gets home from work, he has a ton of energy. He is healthy and happy most of the time because his mind is operating based on the belief that life is an exciting adventure.

So, your beliefs about life and yourself can make a huge difference in the quality of your life, your health, your level of energy, your relationship with others at work and at home, and how you live every minute of your life.

 

The Power of Beliefs

 

Beliefs are so powerful that they test new medications against sugar pills, a placebo. They are looking for what is known as the placebo effect. One group of patients is given sugar pills while the other group is given the real medication. Interestingly enough, sugar pills have been shown to work as good or even better than some medications, simply because the patients believe they are the real thing. That’s how powerful beliefs can be.

 

Did you know that your beliefs can kill you? Really!

 

In her excellent book, The Upside of Stress, Stanford University health psychologist Dr. Kelly McGonigal mentions how research has shown that some 20,000 Americans die each year because they believe that stress is bad for them. Believing stress is bad kills more people in the United States than skin cancer, HIV/AIDS, and homicide.

 

Researchers at Yale University followed a group of middle-aged adults for 20 years. Those who had a positive view of aging in mid-life lived an average of 7.6 years longer than those who had a negative view of aging. To understand the significance of this study, consider the fact that those who exercise, do not smoke, maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol level live about four years longer. 

 

How about believing that most people are trustworthy?

 

In a fifteen-year study, Duke University researchers found that 60% of adults over the age of fifty-five who viewed others as trustworthy were still alive at the end of the study. In contrast, 60% of those with a more cynical view of human beings had died.

 

So a simple change in your beliefs about stress or trusting people can mean the difference between life and death, health and illness.

 

On a personal level, as long as I believed that anything that caused pain in my back, neck, legs, knees, shoulders, and arms meant more damage, my condition was not getting better. However, once I believed that the pain was simply the result of reduction of blood flow and harmless, I recovered rapidly.

 

Believing is Seeing

 

You have probably heard “seeing is believing.” It’s good to know that it also works the other way around: believing is seeing. If you truly believe in something you may see it come true! In fact, when studying the biographies of inventors, you will observe that this is indeed the case.

 

In my case, as I was recovering rapidly from chronic pain and total disability, I believed that I would write a book about my experience and the steps I took to achieve rapid and complete recovery. I believed that people with back and neck pain from around the world would read it and live pain-free again. And, by the grace of God, I saw it come true!  So believe in your dreams, visualize them, keep working toward them, and you may see them come true sooner than you expect.

 

 

 

It’s Time to Upgrade!

As you can see, a simple act of upgrading your mind’s operating system with positive empowering beliefs can transform your health and your life.

Now let’s upgrade your mind’s software by choosing some very empowering beliefs about life and people in general and specific beliefs about yourself.

  1. General beliefs about life:

  1. Life is an exciting adventure

  2. Life is easy

  3. Life is service

  4. Life is wonderful

  5. Life is learning

 

Take a few minutes and write your own empowering beliefs about life.

 

  1. General beliefs about people:

  1. Most people are nice

  2. Most people are caring

  3. Most people are helpful

  4. Most people are truthful

  5. Most people are trustworthy

 

Take a few minutes and write your own empowering beliefs about people.

 

  1. Specific beliefs about yourself:

When it comes to personal beliefs, most people have negative disempowering ones about themselves, such as

  1. I am too old

  2. I am dumb

  3. No one likes me

  4. I cannot do anything right

  5. I will always be in pain

 

Let’s replace these with positive empowering ones with positive empowering ones

  1. I am young, healthy, and strong

  2. I am smart

  3. Everyone loves me

  4. I do most thing right

  5. I will conquer my pain soon

Take a few minutes and write empowering beliefs about yourself.

Now you might think some of these beliefs are too good to be true and it can feel that way initially. However, we are working on upgrading your mind by empowering your mindset. These beliefs are exactly what’s needed to overcome the victim mentally and help you become a victor so that you can conquer stress, tension, TMS, and pain.

What is important is that you keep feeding your mind, especially your subconscious mind, with positive, empowering, exciting thoughts and beliefs.

To give you a recent example from my own life:

As I approach my sixtieth birthday, I feel as excited and vibrant as ever. Yet, I realize that I am approaching a milestone. I am grateful for reaching it, while millions do not.

However, I noticed I was telling myself that SIXTY is only a number. How I view myself and my life and what I do with it is what matters, no matter what age. After all, as you might have read in Rapid Recovery from Back and Neck Pain, when I was only thirty years old, I was totally disabled with chronic pain and functioned like a very old man. So age is just a number.

 

Yet, sixty is SIXTY.

 

But wait? Does it have to be? “What if I believe that I am approaching forty instead?” I thought. I felt a bit excited.

 

But why stop at forty?

 

“How about I tell myself that I will be TWENTY soon?” I thought. I did tell myself that and felt really excited. Does it really make a difference? According to Harvard psychologist Dr. Ellen Langer and author of Counterclockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility, it certainly does.

Here are some more empowering beliefs when facing challenging situations

  • This will lead to something great

  • There is always hope

  • Past does not equal future

  • When there is a will, there is a way

  • I believe in miracles

  • God has a plan for me

  • Every day I get younger and stronger

  • As my kids get older, I get younger and stronger

  • As my grandkids get older, I get younger and stronger

  • Everyone who meets me likes me

  • I am lovable and likable

  • One person can change the world

  • I am here to do great things

 

 

 

Time for Action

  1. Write down some disempowering/limiting beliefs you might have about yourself

 

 

 

  1. Now replace them with empowering beliefs that make you feel strong, powerful, and happy

 

 

 

 

Read over your list of beliefs about life, people, and yourself daily with enthusiasm and absolute conviction that these are all true and believe in them.

 

Client story:

“I grew up with a lot of negative messages from adults in my life about me. There was always this voice playing in my head that I was bad. I never felt good about myself. When you explained to me how the mind’s operating system works and how I could upgrade it, it totally changed my life. I read over my list of empowering beliefs every morning and it made me feel more positive, hopeful, and excited about my work and my life. Thanks, Fred!”

Additional resource: Go to fredamir.com/podcasts and listen to Upgrade Your Mind's Operating System.

 

Epilogue

There you have it: five simple, easy, and fun steps to stress, worry, anxiety, depression, and TMS to live pain-free.

All you need to do is to begin with practicing one of them every day for one to two weeks. Even better, immerse yourself in it for a few days at first. Observe the positive changes in your emotions, thoughts, attitude, and how you react more constructively to daily annoyances, stressful situations, and life challenges. Keep a note on your smart phone or by another means every day so that you can track your progress.

When you observe any noticeable improvement, celebrate your progress with a piece of chocolate, a cup of tea, or whatever you consider a nice quick reward.

Such a simple yet amazingly effective process: immerse, observe, celebrate!

After a you applied the strategies for a few weeks, visit fredamir.com/tmstriggers and take the questionnaire again to see how much progress you have made.

I hope your life will also be transformed as the lives of my readers and clients have.