“Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think”
I always need to plan. When we go on a trip I spend hours surfing all the options for the journey. Hotels, flights or driving directions the fastest route the one with less traffic the one around the mountains and the one through them. What did we ever do without Smart Phones? Every Friday I ask my husband, “So, what are our plans this weekend?” Even if I already know our plans, I need to know details, like the time we are leaving, which really means, how long can I sleep in?
I believe that I am hard-wired to look ahead, find the answers, solve the problem. When I was younger, I set specific dates for myself identifying my goal for each level of management I wanted to achieve. I could whip up a problem-solving action plan complete with specific steps and due dates with objectives to signify success in no time flat. Good use in the management field, but trickier in real life. Management problems are widely written about- over 130 million books by 2010, and who knows how many since? Techniques and processes to solve problems are trained daily in corporate America. In real life, the action steps aren’t so clear, in fact, a lot of the time, we can’t even see what the problem really is because we might be clouded by emotions and judgements.
In my life this type of biological hard-wire makes me vulnerable to emotions. Sometimes I catch myself judging, scanning my mind looking for some failure or short-coming for which to berate myself. As a result I worry. All. The. Time. And if a problem can’t quickly be solved, I ruminate turning it over and over in my mind. Often, the worry ramps up and it becomes an entity of its own, ruling my mind so that I am overcome with angst, fear and anxiety.
So I was ecstatic when I found my favorite Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) exercise: The Worry Decision Tree, a simple flowchart diagramming the steps to move from worry to either problem solving or distraction. The idea is to determine whether you can do something about the problem over which you are ruminating. I love the Worry Decision Tree because the practice forces me to isolate the exact problem and determine which steps, if any, I can write down to alleviate my worry.
You can see by the diagram that the first decision you need to make is whether or not you can do anything about the situation. If you can, the left side of the tree brings you through the process of identifying the problem and writing down what you can do, how you could do it and what additional things you need to find out about the problem event. You then decide if you can do these things now- or if you need to plan a time to complete the things you noted.
Then, after you have done this exercise you will most likely be feeling better about things and you are able to distract yourself by doing something else. It gets a little trickier if you are in a situation that you cannot do anything about and you need to use the right-hand side of the tree, which is simply Let the worry go and change your focus. More on that in my next post.