You may be worried about something.
Most people worry from time to time and often not without reason.
It’s very possible that you have a real issue about which you worry.
If this is so then you probably would find it very annoying to be told ‘don’t worry’ or ‘everything will be fine’, particularly by someone who doesn’t understand the issue.
Mindfulness does not say not to worry and it does not promise to solve the problem that lies at the heart of the worry. Neither do I.
But mindfulness will help you to control your worry while you find a solution.
This involves seeing that worrying is just that – it’s worry, nothing more.
The ‘Just Worrying’ Labelling Technique
Before practicing this technique it is often helpful to differentiate worrying from constructive problem solving.
Worrying involves repetitive circular thinking, which is associated with anxiety and produces no useful results or solutions.
This technique simply involves you labeling worry as “just worrying” and then bringing your attention back to your breath to change the subject of your thinking.
This also makes space for you to focus on actually finding a solution by breaking the circular thinking associated with worrying.
Every time you catch yourself worrying just label it again and change the subject.
It doesn’t matter if you do it 10 times in one minute or if you only realize you have been worrying after a long period of time and then apply the technique.
The important thing is that you apply the technique when you realize you are worrying.
This involves no self criticism or internal struggle, just simple non-judgemental labelling.
You are not saying ‘worrying is bad so I don’t do it’.
Therefore it is important that you do not change the label you apply from “just worrying” to “don’t worry”.
You’ll find that this technique is surprising powerful way to manage worry.
Indeed, many people find that their worrying thoughts dissipate almost totally within a few days.
If this happens, you may find yourself back worrying again a week or so later. This will be because you have simply forgotten about the technique through lack of need to use it.
When that happens you need to repeat the exercise.
With practice you will soon find that even a reminder of the technique will be enough to bring the worry under your control.
This is not Avoidance
Using this technique is significantly different to avoidance. You are not running away from problems.
You are not even avoiding worrying.
Quite the opposite. You are deliberately recognizing worrying and bringing it to the forefront of your mind in order to see it for what it is.
It is not running away from reality. Rather this is non-judgemental labeling which is encapsulated in the word ‘just’.
Come to see worrying as just worrying.