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Decide: Is This an Unnecessary Worry?

Worries, like panic, take on a life of their own. When you have charted a path to walk and the noise of unhelpful thoughts follows you, then it is time to shake them. You must first take a firm stand against the worries: "These thoughts aren't helpful. I'm not going to let them control me." You can't be wishy-washy about this decision.

For instance, if you believe that every panic attack is a potential heart attack, you must settle this issue before you can move forward against panic. Many people make this mistake. They have all their medical evaluations, ruling out any heart problem. They feel reassured. But each time symptoms begin, they say, "I think this is just anxiety." Underneath that thought is, (" . . . but it could be a heart attack.") A stronger voice is, "I'm going to treat these symptoms as anxiety. I've gotten a clean bill of health. I'm willing to risk the slight chance that this is something else."

You will now learn about five ways to handle worries that are noise: stopping them, postponing them, modifying them in two ways and, surprisingly, increasing them.

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