The Skill of Postponing Your Worries
An excellent stalling tactic is to postpone your worries for a bit. When you notice yourself beginning to worry, then mentally agree to pay attention to those worries. However, choose a specific later time when you will return to them.
Postpone Your Worries
- Mentally agree to pay attention to your worries
- Choose a specific time in the future when you will return to them.
- As that time arrives, either start obsessing or consider postponing the worries to another specific time. Whenever possible, choose to postpone.
This is like making a mental agreement with your fear. There’s a part of you that really believes that you need to pay attention to these worried thoughts. You are not about to say “no” to them. Your fear is there because it thinks it’s taking care of you. So you’re going to say, “OK, I’ll pay attention to you, just not now.” You’re going to keep the idea that you’ll actually worry. You’re going to change the idea that you have to instantly respond every time it beckons you.
How long can you postpone? Can you wait an hour? If you can’t postpone for an hour, try a half hour. Try fifteen minutes. Five minutes. Whatever it takes, try to break the automatic process of worry. That’s what postponing will do, by letting you take control over when and where you worry.
It really doesn’t matter how long you pick to start with. It’s relative to your capacity. As soon as you postpone even for 10 seconds, you’re taking voluntary control over an involuntary process. So start wherever you can, and support yourself in the effort. Use a stopwatch if you need to.
Continue to postpone as long as you can. When you feel incapable of postponing the worry any longer, then go ahead and address it. The key is to let at least some amount of time pass without worries dominating your thoughts during the practice.
Experiment with this technique a few times this week. Whatever your worries — whatever the unproductive noises are in your head — practice postponing them. In the process you will be practicing a skill that you can use in preparing for any new challenges panic offers you.