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An Anxiety Trick

An Anxiety Trick

If I were a superhero, I’d be anxiety girl — “able to jump to the worst conclusion in a single bound!” — especially nowadays when the news can make even the calmest person’s heart pound. But I just learned a trick that instantly chills me out…

A reader named Beth recently left this comment:

“Brené Brown talks about ‘dress rehearsing tragedy’ and how it robs us of our joy. Once I became aware of it, I realized it stole joy away from my time with my kids. I would think: ‘I love her so much, I would be lost if something ever happened to her,’ or I would say, ‘Careful on that branch or you will break your arm…’ I have learned to turn my ‘what ifs’ around. What if she grows up healthy and confident and we stay friends our whole lives? Or what if she doesn’t fall and feels an amazing sense of accomplishment from climbing that tree?”

I’ve tried this approach since reading Beth’s comment, and it has worked like a charm. Because, after all, what if…everything turns out wonderfully?

An Anxiety Trick

Thoughts? What do you do to ease your worries?

P.S. Trying out slow parenting, and naming your anxiety.

(Top photo by The Morning Train, bottom photo by Celine Kim.)

  1. Andria Perkins says...

    I always feel like people should congratulate me when I’m all like”that’ll never happen” because living in denial takes a lot of might for those prone to anxiety or simply mamas. So, ladies, lets say to one another, “Good job” and “we’re gonna be fine” most of the time it will be 99.9% true. I don’t need to be .01% of the time right. Do you? Lets all be wrong and celebrate the joy we felt in trusting each other to do the right thing and proctecting our progeny. Isn’t that the whole thing we do as mamas everyday? To celebrate the mundane and protect the children from the unseen. You are in essence being the best of the best right now. Celebrate yourself and be glad of the world we live in that is willing to stop everything to protect us and our kiddos. You’re my heros. Wait, I’m my hero, too. Love to all.

    • Delfina says...

      I love this comment! In my opinion I think society has taught women and mothers especially, what is “right” and “wrong” and how to “properly behave”. Everyone is judged, but in specific women and mothers because for one, every mother is differently and wishes to raise their kids differently, but according to society everything they do is wrong or out of the norm. If we all women learn to accept our wrongdoings (whether its telling children not to do this and that) then we would have less anxiety ! I believe the unnecessary comments from society increase anxiety and self depreciation. :)

  2. Christine says...

    “what if she grows up healthy and confident and we stay friends our whole lives”- oh my goodness. I want for my daughter to be happy, healthy, and safe her whole life – I also want to always be her person. always.

    I love this little trick. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Lynea Wilson says...

    “ ‘Supposing a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?’
    ‘Supposing it didn’t,’ said Pooh after careful thought.
    Piglet was comforted by this.”
    — A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

    I tell my sweet, worrier husband this on the regular (and myself too)

  4. valentina says...

    Oh goodness, I really needed this today! I’m newly pregnant (yay!) and I’ve witnessed my anxiety shape-shift from “what if this never happens” straight into “what if I miscarry/what if I get coronavirus and pass it on to the fetus/what if what if what if.” What if everything turns out wonderful?! Trying to conceive turned out to be wonderfully easy (thank goodness!) and what if pregnancy turns out the same way?! Phew. Thank you so much for this one!

  5. Casey says...

    “Anticipatory Anxiety” I’ve heard it called. I know it well. For me it manifests as acute panic in very specific situations – not on a daily basis. But still affects my life. I worry about having a panic attack more than I worry about whatever it is that is happening. Worry my body will betray me. I try really hard to overcome it and have been successful to a large degree. But not always. And that’s OK. I’ll keep trying.

    I would love to know which book was referenced in this post?

  6. Christina says...

    I’ve often found myself suffering from bedtime anxiety, or even middle of the night worry spirals! Somewhere along the way this visual came to me, and I bring it to mind whenever I start to feel anxious. I picture myself sitting in a peaceful office with glass doors, looking out the window. Directly out front of my office there is a staircase up and a staircase down. I picture a full queue of characters (in the silliest costumes) lined up to get to my office—where they are greeted by a bouncer of sorts. The bouncer writes down their concern, and lets them know I’ll get back to them during my regular business hours. They are then sent back down the staircase, not to return. If I’m worried about my blood pressure, I picture a silly person dressed up in a giant heart costume. If I’m worried about our climate, it’s a group of people dressed as sun, rain, clouds, etc. It never fails to distract me, make me smile, and soon I am asleep knowing the list of concerns will be delivered to me during my regular business hours :)

  7. Erin Mary says...

    I struggle a LOT with this- at the root of it is my OCD, which makes me believe that I will manifest something horrible happening if I don’t worry about it. I’ve been working with my therapist about it, but the stakes still feel too high. What if they’re all wrong and I WILL make the terrible thing happen? I can’t just take that chance.

    It’s funny though, because my mom- who is always the stoic, reasonable one at all events, once told me that she has done a sort of “pre-greiving” process, where she has imagined how she will feel when the people she loves pass away. That way, she says she’s familiar with the emotions and has already had a chance to process it to some extent. The only people she refuses to do this with are my brother and me. I thought about this a lot when I was in the hospital following a suicide attempt. A lot.

  8. Danielle says...

    Dr Harry Barry! He is my hero. He has a method called flooding. It will completely change the way you look at anxiety.

  9. Rebecca says...

    I agree – such a powerful book.

    • Rachel says...

      What book is this from?

  10. Lynn says...

    I have anxiety disorder and this is exactly what I needed to read this morning. I am going through some tough life moments right now – my anxiety gets very triggered with the possibility of change – so my mind has only been creating stories about the negative what ifs. This is a good reminder to have positive what ifs, something that is easy to forget.

    • KC says...

      I highly recommend the change pack in the headspace app. Seriously life changing for me.

  11. Winny says...

    G-star has the best boyfriend jeans!

  12. Caitlin Scott says...

    As always, thank you so much. I hope this changes my life!

  13. G says...

    A bit off-topic, though I love the article, but what are these jeans? I’ve been looking for the perfect boyfriend’s jeans forever. I love those on the picture.

  14. Emily says...

    I have generalized anxiety disorder and it can be really tough, especially in times of transition or when there are bigger societal problems. In particular, I have health anxiety, so living through this coronavirus outbreak is awful for my mental health. However! The best thing I’ve found is humor, especially shared with others. Laughing with my best friend or family about the virus, Love Is Blind on Netflix (seriously, a good distraction), work, and other life things makes me feel strong, healthy, and supported. It reminds me life is still good. Hugs to all in this difficult time!

    • Sarah says...

      Oh my gosh, Love is Blind could not have come at a better time. 20 minutes of meditation every morning also makes a big difference with my anxiety. Hang in there!

  15. Marki says...

    I have a tendency to obsessively worry about things that don’t matter, particularly at night (“I sounded so dumb in that meeting!”), but then I heard some advice from RuPaul about how to change your train of thought — he said to think about the next thing you’re going to think about. So, if I keep thinking over and over again about that dumb thing I said in a meeting, I’ll say to myself, “what’s the next thing I’m going to think about? Planning our next family vacation” or “what am I going to wear on my next date,” etc. I don’t know why, but it works like a charm for derailing me from an obsessive train of thought.

    • beth says...

      I have been obsessively thinking all kinds of spiraling thoughts since I found out about my husband’s loooooong-term affair this past September; I’m fine one minute, then something reminds me of it, and I go from there. It’s been insane, honestly, and I know it’s not healthy, but I can’t seem to stop myself. I am going to try your/RuPaul’s trick- thank you so much!

    • Kara says...

      I have had to overcome terrible anxiety about sleeping over the past year. What has been working for me to avoid thinking about things in bed is to think about the show I was watching or the book I am reading while trying to fall asleep. That way, I am not going down a rabbit hole of anxious thoughts or thinking about *trying* to fall asleep.
      I also meditate with Headspace’s “wind downs”.

  16. Wendela says...

    I love this. Thanks so much for this post!

  17. Erin says...

    I have bad anxiety and something my mom used to say to me when I was a little kid (before I even knew about anxiety, but was obviously very anxious), was “don’t pre-plan a tragedy” which is kind of the same sentiment as this. I have always tried to plan for every possible (terrible) scenario and every way things could go wrong, but thinking about even the smallest possibility of success or happiness makes everything feel worth it!

  18. Mia says...

    I have family members who struggle with anxiety disorder, and one of their therapists recommended saying, “what is” instead of “what if”.
    What IS true is powerful when you speak it out loud and remind yourself of what is reality!

  19. Jen says...

    I knit.

    • Anna says...

      Me too. Because I love to create and feel the soft wool, but also because of the moments of peace it adds to my day.

  20. Juliette says...

    The other day I thought ‘I’m going to comment on Cup of Jo asking for advice on dealing with stress and anxiety – I’d love to read the comments on that post’. And now look! It’s like you read my mind – thank you! I’m very grateful for this site and all the wisdom on it.

    My tips for dealing with stress are to spend time with animals and in nature. I use the headspace app for meditation and mindfulness which have never been useful to me before. I can manage 10 minute chunks on this app though.

    Sending love to anyone else feeling pretty fraught at the moment.

  21. Thank you for this! Just what I needed to hear today. It’s so easy to think of the worst case scenario, but making that switch in our brains can make all the difference.

  22. Carolyn says...

    I love, and often use, this quote when talking to anxiety-prone girls at my local high school…
    “ ‘Supposing a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?’
    ‘Supposing it didn’t,’ said Pooh after careful thought.
    Piglet was comforted by this.”
    — A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

    • Stacey says...

      I love this quote. Thank you for sharing. I just bought a print of it off Etsy to remind me.

    • Mindy says...

      I love this! Thank you for sharing.

  23. Megan says...

    I love this post so much, and love the comments even more! Thanks for inviting the discussion.

    I think my anxiety was manageable and even helpful when I was younger, but then I had a lot of the worst possible things happen to people I love, in the space of only about 18 months. Honestly, it sounds odd, but I think my anxiety and hypervigilance helped me cope during that awful time, helped me be resilient and able to support others in my life, allowed me not to collapse into financial chaos, because I had rehearsed and prepared for so many of the ‘what ifs’ before they became reality (and, in those 18 months, most of the awful ‘what ifs’ became ‘what is’). The problem now is, that, 3 years down the line, my brain can’t turn it off.

    It’s still adaptive sometimes– for instance, I stocked up on every possible thing I thought we’d need for a coronavirus outbreak back in mid-January (not masks, I know that’s a no-no here in the States, though I did buy bandanas we could maybe use). I also sold all of our stocks. Now that hand sanitizers, toilet paper, and rice are sold out near me, and the stock market has plunged, we’re all glad I did that.

    So I don’t know if it’s a great idea not to act on what I’m anxious about, because, often enough in my life, those actions have turned out to be very important. But later at night is when it gets toxic, when I’m cuddled in reading to my son before bed, a cat purring on my lap, calming music playing, while my brain is still shouting, my stomach is churning, my heart is racing. How do you signal to yourself that the storm has passed? That you’re already as prepared as you can be for the next one? That the best and most important thing you can do now is to take joy in the calm of the moment?

    • Annie says...

      Your post is so validating for me! I do this too, and similarly feel that it’s helped me to think through situations and prepare, and I also experience not being able to turn it off. I’m a school counselor, so I try to teach kids how to turn it off, and my most successful tricks have been exercise, mindfulness meditations (I use the calm app) which have taught me to remove myself from the feeling, acknowledge it with kindness, observe it, and grounding techniques that bring you into the present. I teach kids the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique and I also use it when I’m try to relax and be in the present at home: what are 5 things you see around you? 4 things you can touch? 3 things you can hear? 2 things you can smell? 1 thing you can taste?

    • Anna says...

      Zen teacher Charlotte Joko Beck has a chapter on this in her book “Nothing Special” called “The Eye of the Hurricane”. I read it this week and recommend it.

    • Megan says...

      Thank you, Annie and Anna, for these recommendations!

    • Katy says...

      This is so true and wise! I’m going through infertility and have a family member who recently became homeless, so it’s A Lot and does often feel like bad things are just gonna keep happening, because that’s been the general trend. Meditation really helps me; I use the Insight Timer app for 10 minutes a day to just focus on breathing and on the thought, “Right now, I am safe.” Knitting, yoga, and time with friends, also.

    • April Guillen says...

      Yes, it is actually helpful the think through what we would do in worst case situations. I learned about this more on The Happiness Lab podcast.

    • CEW says...

      The coronavirus is a really bad flu. You’re going to be OK.

    • Jacqueline says...

      A therapist once really helped me to see my anxiety as not inherently bad, and to understand the difference between being (correctly) anxious and letting it ruin my life/day/etc. He said that anxiety is the thing that helps us makes decisions and not put ourselves in harms way. What is bad is when we make decisions from a place of fear based anxiety that holds us back from being happy and doing things we want to do that are reasonably “safe.” It really helped me to reframe anxiety to “thanks for helping me” instead of “anxiety is the bane of my existence and I need to stop all and every anxious thought.”

  24. Rusty says...

    My dad died when I was 15. It was tough. I grew very resilient, very fast. I wirked through high school and then through college, uni, etc.
    I carried my own dreams in a quiet, tiny, invisible backpack…and I was determined to work my way out of struggle street.
    A lot of grave difficulties have happened in my reasonably insignificant life.
    These things have been easier to handle and brace myself ghrough, by sitting quietly and usi g self talk to work through the absolutely worse case scenario for each potential problem or life challenge:
    “What is the worst thing that could happen? Anything else is a bonus.”
    I have some serious health issues and my best friend has been struggling with breast cancerfor the last year. She was also burned (3rd degree) by a nurse putting a heat pack on her breast post-mastectomy (no feelingremains), causing her to lose her implant and go through numerous further surgeries. When we chat about scenarious and have major specialist appointments, I remind us both (and others), that “Whatever It is that we will be told in the upcoming appointment, already is what it is, right now, today. It will only be given a name, either good or bad. We are the way it is already and… it just is, what it is.”

    • Clare says...

      Sending love!

    • Lin says...

      I love this! Thank you.

  25. Alison says...

    I learned this in a class on public speaking. Whenever you picture the worst case scenario to balance it out with the best case scenario. I love the way you (and Beth!) phrase it here.

  26. Karrie says...

    Love this!!

  27. Holly says...

    I LOVE THIS!

    My husband is in finance, so the coronavirus-attendant market meltdown has meant continual talk of disaster in our house for the past two weeks. I’ve been telling him, “That’s tomorrow’s worry,” but now I think I’ll counter with, “What if this helps us avoid a greater disaster in the future?”

    • Sarz says...

      I’ve seen some amazing comments on this thread on dealing with anxiety via the mind. What about tackling it with the body? I run. Those who can’t? Walk! Wheel! Leave your anxiety in the dust. It may not be a permanent solution, but those endorphins are a pretty damn good tradeoff.

    • That is beautiful, Holly. I love that, and it absolutely hadn’t occurred to me.

  28. Leyna says...

    I appreciate this post. But therapists say “thinking positive” when you feel negative is almost impossible to do with any depth or lasting effect. I think the real work is to accept that the negative will happen, and the only way to protect yourself against catastrophe is to reflect on your resources to cope.

    • RD says...

      Exactly. You can’t always push the negative away. But if you learn to cope with it, you have better preparation for when it does come. All bad and good things are inevitable. We need to learn how to manage both.

    • Lauren E. says...

      I talk about this ALL the time in therapy. My therapist says it’s helpful to watch the scenarios you’re worried about play out and then over time, you basically train yourself to stop expecting the worst because it almost never happens.

    • Angela says...

      I think the difference is about the likelihood of the negative outcome. For example, if your kid is especially medically fragile you absolutely have to think about possible negative outcomes and make sure you are prepared for contingencies. But if your kid is just your run of the mill average health kid, running through the scenario of your child developing a life threatening illness and dying just makes you anxious and serves no purpose.

      I’m a firm believer in “we steer where we’re looking.” If I’m watching the side of the cliff instead of the road, odds are that I’m going to head that way. If I keep my eyes on the road, odds are better that I’ll stay on the road. I’m not so Pollyanna-ish as to think nothing bad will ever happen. I’m still scanning for obstacles and watching for falling rocks, but I try to look where I want to go.

  29. Isa says...

    Thank you for focusing on optimism this week! It feels so good to be reminded of valuable and good things without ignoring the news this week. . .

  30. Sarah says...

    Thank you for this. The phrase I’ve been repeating to myself these past few months (too many months!) and particularly most recently is: for whose agenda does my fear benefit- it’s my phrase to remind myself two things. One: is this fear/anxiety/worry beneficial to me and will it save my life in the fight or flight fashion. And two: bigger picture- who wants us as a voting society to be fearful, and why. I don’t mean to be contentious- it’s just a phrase that helps because I realise I’m either scared of nothing, or doing what the sensational headlines are telling me to.
    Keep Calm and Wash your Hands. Xx

  31. Anna says...

    Dear Cup of Jo, could you please turn these comments (and your post) into a book, The Cup of Jo guide to anxiety? It would be wonderful and there’s obviously a huge market! Brilliant comments x

    • Holly says...

      It’s the only comments section I read–and cry over sometimes! It would seriously make an amazing book series. The people here are the best.

  32. Kat O says...

    I love this and I think it’s such a helpful reminder to not ONLY entertain the possibility of disaster. However, for me personally I actually find it useful to imagine the worst case scenario, because then I also imagine how I would handle that scenario, and my anxiety is lessened because I feel prepared with a plan. It sounds morbid, but it works for me!

  33. Victoria says...

    You can’t imagine how much these words have helped me today! I’m super nervous about having a very important family trip cancelled and now I’m going to think that we will do it and everything will turn out wonderfully. Thanks and hugs!

  34. Charlotte says...

    “One who suffers before it is necessary, suffers more than is necessary.” : Seneca

    A reminder that even a couple of millennia ago, humans were prone to anxiety and over thinking.

    Live in the moment. It’s the only one you have.

    • Sunny says...

      Great quote! The quote I have taped to my computer screen is:
      “Focus on what you CAN control, not what you CAN’T”

    • Lauren Mc says...

      The quote over my computer is: “Poor planning on your part, does not constitute an emergency on mine.”
      This helps when I get caught up in someone else’s anxiety and make it my own.

  35. VVeronika says...

    Oh I needed this! We have an unsuccesful IVF behind us and I cannot help but have thoughts what if it never happens to us…etc. But from now on I will say what if the next one will be successful and we are going to be over the moon??

    • From one IVF-er to another, I’m sending you all the best wishes for success.

    • Kristen says...

      I’m standing with you in this IVF moment of failure and worry, and you’ve said that What If so perfectly – borrowing and allowing hope back in. & sending love.

    • Katy says...

      Solidary, Veronika. I’ve had three failed embryo transfers, which I never expected at age 31. It’s so, so hard. The silver lining is that everything else in my life feels easy in comparison. Sending love <3

  36. Ceridwen says...

    This is so important to think about. I had a difficult year last year with big health issues in my family including my mum and two daughters. Now my daughter going through some serious medical tests. It’s hard not to get pulled into the what if’s? Weirdly, I find it helpful to go to the worst case scenario and work my way back. This includes reading all of the Internet. My husband is the opposite and can’t talk about it at all. So we need to find a middle ground. Being in the moment is so important. Pull myself back thee and I say, right now, everything and everyone is ok. That helps.

  37. Sunny says...

    Lots of great comments and thank you, Joanna, for being you.
    What helps me with anxiety is EFT – Emotional Freedom Technique or Tapping. It connects mind and body and effectively reduces anxiety and other emotions [fear, sadness, anger, guilt etc.] I use The Tapping Solution app almost every day and it has made a very positive difference in my life.

    love and gentle hugs for all of us

  38. Lauren says...

    Something that has helped me a lot lately when I have anxious thoughts (often while trying to fall asleep at night) is I take a deep breath and imagine pushing the thought away with my exhale. The visual really helps me shut the spiral down, because I can’t think the thought if it’s gone on the wind, right?

  39. Katrin says...

    My husband and I separated a few weeks ago and I have been feeling so anxious. It is an existential dread keeps me from eating and sleeping. What helps me in my worst moments is a self-compassion exercise by Kristin Neff:
    Saying and acknowledging to myself that this is a moment of suffering. Feeling the pain and fear in my body, watching my anxious thoughts.
    Placing my hand on my heart and reminding myself that suffering is a part of life, and that other people suffer too (somehow, it is really comforting to know that there are other women awake at 3 a.m. with racing hearts, shivering and feeling lost – like a sisterhood of fear!).
    And then telling myself what I need to hear most:
    May I be kind to
    May I be strong.
    I am not alone.
    Somehow, acknowledging the fear and giving it space is calming, and it feels like all these difficult feeling have carved out space in my heart to feel joy and love again.

    • Dee says...

      As having been through this, my heart hurt reading this. Sending you lots of positive energy. You will get through this and come out stronger. In the meantime be gentle with yourself. I love your little reminder you are not alone. You most certainly are not, and you will feel love and joy again. This season will pass.

    • C says...

      Separating from my partner right now too and right there with you awake at 3 am, heart racing, existential dread on high. Thank you for this. So if it helps, know that I’ll be there now with my hand on my heart too. You (we) are not alone!

      All the love,
      C

  40. rachel says...

    i was just reading in my daily devotion this morning about anxiety/fear… and naming the fear/anxious thoughts, even giving them a nick name and then naming them and giving them to God. I love this idea, it almost dumbs down the anxiety and lessens its power. I’m going to try it next time.

  41. Christy says...

    I remember reading this advice from Daring Greatly just before I left on a solo trip to Romania years ago for an internship. I was full of anxiety about travel and the unknown and that book got me through the whole thing. That trip, plus that book, taught me more useful truth than years of school ever did!

    Now I use this concept of not rehearsing disaster paired with Byron Katie’s “The Work.” Specifically, a version of her question: Who would I be without this thought? This has been my main trick to calm anxiety these days!

  42. Frida says...

    Jenny Komenda mentioned in her Instagram stories fairly recently that one antidote to burnout (which I am feeling acutely right now) is gratitude. I’ve been working on that and feel like it could also be helpful in combatting anxiety (also part of my burnout!). I’m trying to think about the things that are going okay. Letting myself acknowledge my worries and see their value and then moving on to what’s going well. I will say that this is really a work in progress for me. We are all just doing the best that we can.

  43. jane says...

    Funny, I just got the book, “What if it Does Work Out”, by Susie Moore. It’s a slightly different topic in the book but I’ve been applying the thought the same way you have described here. It makes me feel infinitely better about everything and frees me to think of creative solutions I hadn’t thought of before.

  44. Cydney E Jaggers says...

    I really enjoy Counter Culture Coffee – they have a decaf blend called “Slow Motion” :)

  45. Kelly says...

    This is a lovely post, Joanna, but would it be possible to credit Natalie Dee, who drew the “Anxiety Girl” cartoon? She is hilarious and amazing, and deserves to be identified.

    • SB says...

      ++++ this!

  46. Sara says...

    Here is what I find difficult in this moment – I agree that strategies for coping with anxiety are really important and healthy. We should not and cannot live in a state of dread all the time. At the same time… our house is on fire. Literally. And our survival as a human community depends on us not looking away from the true realities of climate change and climate collapse. So… honestly things will only turn out wonderfully if we take concrete, direct, and wide-scale action *right now* to avert what is inevitable otherwise.
    So I don’t know – honestly I think a little panic about climate is normal and necessary. I think we should all be panicking a whole lot more, honestly. There are then many ways to turn collective action into joyful and empowering experience (we don’t have to stay in a place of anxiety or dread). But pretending things are going to be ok when they’re not is also going to put us in a very bad place.

    • Rusty says...

      Oh, yeah!
      How to get through the anxiety? Actually DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

    • Claire says...

      I get where you are coming from on this. But I have never seen panic benefit any situation. Calm, focused effort- yes. Enthusiasm and dedication and purposeful intention and hard work – yes. Panic- no. And if we are going to be honest and tell the truth then surely we can tell all the truths – there is plenty that is good – real, true and important. We have love, laughter, kindness. Grace. There is still beauty and meaning. We can be ok and still fight the good fight. Our well being is an important part of the conversations too.

  47. Rebecca says...

    This is exactly what I needed to hear. I just tried it with the biggest worries in my head and my shoulders feel a tiny bit lighter. I appreciate the tip.

  48. Katie says...

    I’ve loved the quote “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.” This comforts me – I hear about awful things, but also people who rise from those awful things. We aren’t meant to be in a state of bad; we persevere.

  49. Eve says...

    Quite aside from this excellent and lovely suggestion, may I please make a gentle request for the end of “this one great trick…” / “the secret ingredient you’ve been using all wrong …” type openers? I feel like the internet is at Peak Cliffhanger and it reads kind of infantilising sometimes because your content and audience are so intelligent and good! Maybe CoJ could lead the way in a different direction? Or maybe it’s just me! Love everything (else) you do x o

    • Bridget says...

      I really like how it’s so conversational, actually!

  50. jo says...

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I have also struggled with the emphasis on positive thinking in all of the mindfulness messages being promoted today. In the midst of a heartbreaking loss, I found Pema Chodron’s book When Things Fall Apart more helpful. She writes about the Buddhist teaching that both pleasure and pain, sorrow and joy are inevitable parts of the human experience. When we are dealing with our most profound losses, we are more connected to humanity because we can feel deep compassion for all those who are also grieving. When we are in a more ego-focused place where it feels like everything is coming together, we can harness creative energy and grow. Also, she puts emphasis not on imagining a positive outcome or optimistic thinking, but humility and openness. We simply don’t know how things will turn out, and for the most part, events are out of our control.

    • Megan says...

      Thank you so much for this suggestion! Just ordered the book. I think this will help me :)

    • Anna says...

      I second this recommendation; this book recently soothed me during a rough week.

  51. Sheri says...

    I needed this right now. Thank you. My 10 month old baby has had a fever for almost 2 days and I was feeling the weight of all my what ifs as I stare at the video monitor watching him sleep.

    What if his fever is gone when he wakes up :)

  52. Cheryl says...

    I saw a quote (it might even have been in the comment section of this blog) that prompted me to print it out and refer to it often. It is:

    “Sometimes when things seem to be falling apart, they might actually be falling into place. Stay positive.”

  53. Susan says...

    I go for long walks with my dog Bertie, practice slow deep breathing, knit something fun to give to a friend, bake a sweet treat to share with neighbors, get a good night’s sleep. I tend to have social anxieties and overthink every “social faux pax” I may have made during the encounter.

  54. Lisa says...

    This is so helpful! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  55. Jean says...

    A quiet day at home today – I felt in the mood to turn off the radio and worrisome news, and instead listen to inspiring podcasts. The first that came up was Oprah and Brene Brown, and I heard her discuss “dress rehearsing tragedy” about anxiety, and I thought it was so clever and true!

    Then I listened to a few clips from Abraham Hicks who I love, and is also reassuring, funny and clever like Brene – and they talked about manifestation and included some fun examples about manifesting simple things as proof that the law of attraction works.

    I was thinking all afternoon about that in a relaxed way – without having a specific “thing” that I wanted to see. And of course along comes this blog post that mentions about Brene’s “dress rehearsing tragedy” when I had never heard about it before today. How interesting!

  56. Sharon says...

    I am an optimist…my mother was, and luckily I take after her instead of my father, who was the opposite. He also was probably depressed his whole life. I have always tried to live my life without worrying about those things I can’t control. Of course that doesn’t apply ALL the time, but that is what I strive for.

    It helps with any anxiety that might creep in. I can usually see in my mind where my anxiety could go if I let it…and that allows me to stop before I get there.

  57. Sarah says...

    I can’t wait to try this!! I think this could help me so much.

  58. Sally says...

    It’s like Hot Priest said in Fleabag, “Why would you believe in something awful when you could believe in something wonderful!”

  59. Kimberly says...

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Thinking of you and sending you hugs.

  60. Liz C says...

    A great therapist once told me to “be more curious than afraid” this has turned into a mantra for me in times of high anxiety. I think the curiosity is similar to thinking about all that could go right as much as all that could go wrong. A curious mind is an open mind, and an open mind remains open to the good outcomes as well as the possible bad outcomes. Does that make sense? It certainly helps me. Be more curious than afraid, be more curious than afraid, be more curious than afraid…

  61. Heather Lemoine says...

    My friend and I were both in graduate school at the same time, to become therapists. And as we were digging around our souls and our most intimate thoughts she told me: “My biggest problem is that I was loved tooo much by my parents.” As we were teasing it out we were laughing! My husband and I have adopted this and envision our toddler in graduate school laughing about how her biggest problem is that she was so LOVED!

  62. Nadja says...

    I have this poem taped on the wall next to my bed, and I read it when I get anxious about the future. It’s very reassuring to think that there are more peaceful forces in this world than frightening ones. Here’s the poem, in case anyone else finds it helpful:

    The Peace of Wild Things

    When despair for the world grows in me
    and I wake in the night at the least sound
    in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
    I go and lie down where the wood drake
    rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
    I come into the peace of wild things
    who do not tax their lives with forethought
 of grief.
    I come into the presence of still water.
    And I feel above me the day-blind stars
    waiting with their light.
    For a time 
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

    • Lilly says...

      Beautiful!

    • Sandy says...

      The Peace of Wild Things (poem) is by Wendell Berry. I read his novel “Jayber Crow” this past year. It was my first time reading any of his work. So glad I did.

  63. jones says...

    I always appreciate when you post about mental health or other items. I would appreciate hearing from people who have been through something really awful and manage to still anticipate good things. I used to be able to better handle my “what ifs” and negative thoughts. My older sister (and only sibling) got really sick several years ago and passed away 18 months ago at the age of 45. When she was sick and not doing well, people encouraged me to think positively and to imagine a positive outcome (which I tried my best to do). The worst did happen and it is much harder to imagine that they won’t again when you know they do.

    • Brooke says...

      There is a book by Australian journalist, Leigh Sales, called “Any Ordinary Day” which is about people who have suffered tragedy and then gone on to live positive and hopeful lives. It’s a great read and I found it very helpful after my father died.

    • agnes says...

      After my mother passed away I was in a dark place and I thought I would never feel an innocent and spontaneous joy again; I did. It took time (3 years? maybe more); I did nothing to think positively (not that you should do the same), but one day it came back, the joy, and took me by surprise. It will come back. Just wait.

    • D says...

      Jones, your comment broke my heart because as I was reading the article, I was thinking about my own “tragedy dress rehearsals” and they do often involve my sister and how she means the world to me and what I’d do if anything happened to her. And then your comment was the first one I read.

      I’m going through something different that’s kind of awful right now, and I just try my best to remember/accept that life can be really really awful sometimes and also really beautiful at other times. And it’s so hard to wrap our heads around the extremes. But maybe all we can do is turn towards the good things when we feel able to? And cling to each other like lifeboats the rest of the time. I don’t know if that helps you at all (probably not) but anyway, sending you a lot of love.

    • Emily Wallis says...

      Hi there! Your comment popped up first, and jumped out at me right away. My husband was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer last year–right after we lost a much-wanted twin pregnancy. Those experiences are literally my worst nightmares, but I have learned so much about myself and my values. We’ve learned to live WITH fear, not IN fear. The present has become immeasurably valuable–we simply can’t exist in the past or the future. The good things–TODAY–is what we live for. I hope this reply brightens your day a little bit. High five, fellow reader. xo

    • Capucine says...

      I really understand this. Just sympathizing. People you love deeply who should not die can and do die. You just have to sit there in that hospital room and they really die, right in front of you. I was ‘What if! a miracle happens!’ until the end, and then I couldn’t think half full anymore either.

    • Rae says...

      Jones, I am so sorry for your loss. For me this technique is less about imagining a wonderful outcome but rather not imagining catastrophe / pain / the worst. My father died of a progressive disease. I struggled not to imagine his coming death as prolonged and very painful and always right around the corner. Using this technique I would instead allow myself to “be” with him in his illness and imagine a little more time with him. And as it turned out, he did not have a painful death but a peaceful one. I think my lessened anxiety allowed me to enjoy the time I had left with him.

    • Amanda says...

      I feel you – this is hard. I lost a friend (a vibrant, healthy, 37 year old woman) to a disease that took her in less than a year and felt blindsided because even at the end I didn’t fully think “well what if she doesn’t make it?”

      I think the thing I glean from this quote is that bad stuff will happen in life, but if we’re always thinking of bad things that could happen, we’re stealing joy from ourselves now. Focusing on enjoying the people and things we’re experiencing now is time well spent. Would my time with my friend have been any better if I had realized she was dying? I don’t know. I might’ve said some things I never got to say, but as it was I focused on helping her heal and that was also time well spent.

      I’m so sorry for the loss of your sister.

    • Anne says...

      I’m in your same boat. My mother-in-law died the worst possible death, then her husband died of a horrible suicide because he was so broken-hearted after losing her. Then my husband and I lost 2 pregnancies in a row. You are totally right – sometimes the worst does happen. From all this darkness I’ve learned that some things are shitty and unfixable and will just always and forever be horrible, full stop. Some people, like my dad, are always hopeful, but I honestly think it’s because he hasn’t yet experienced a horrendous event (even at age 60 – he’s sailing through life). Like you (I think), my outlook on life has changed. I despise hope, since it leads to disappointment, and I don’t try to cheer people up – instead I validate their feelings of fear, anxiety, and grief. I’m really sorry to hear about your sister. That is a true tragedy and I’m sorry it happened to you.

    • Naomi says...

      This. Exactly this. I’m in therapy right now after having cancer while young, healthy, and in my 30s (and a whole bunch of other “bad” things), and it’s not so easy to just flip to “just think positively!”. Clinical anxiety and depression … not so simple.

    • M says...

      I am so sorry for the loss of your sister. Positive thinking has frustrated me in various situations for many years. It gives us the burden of responsibility when things don’t turn out the way we want them to. Same with that manifesting crap. So I focus more on radical acceptance. I could write a novel here but try looking into it and see where the path takes you. Hope this helps.

    • Kate says...

      I was going to post something very similar. I’m so sorry for your loss. I’ve always had some anxiety, but it was manageable. Sometimes my imagination would wander, but I didn’t truly believe something really bad would happen to me. But several years ago my husband was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer while I was pregnant with our first child (it happens to be colorectal cancer awareness month, so going to take this opportunity to remind anyone who might read here that colorectal cancer is significantly rising in younger adults and to please take some time to learn more!). He died a little over 2 years later at 41 y/o. Once you actually know and have experienced that one of the worst things that you can imagine can actually happen to you, it’s impossible to forget. I’m not sure that I have great advice, more so just here to say that I understand. I would say that mostly I try not to anticipate the future too much one way or the other. I work very hard to pull my mind back to only the present moment as much as possible. I try to focus on the fact that things are okay in this exact moment, and take things only a day or actually just a minute at a time. I have to very consciously do so all the time and it feels like I’m constantly practicing it, but it does help at least some of the time.

    • SeaBee says...

      I’m so sorry about the death of your sister. Your comment resonated with me. My son died a few years ago at age five. He was fantastic and we are floundering. To make matters worse, there’s a strong chance that his illness is genetic and we have three other children. Anyway, the “think positively” comments have always been lost on me, because, not only are they just surface and dismissive of real concern, but I always think they miss “the meat” of relationships and of love. “Being positive” doesn’t get me through train wreck days, but being grateful for who my son was, helps. Being grateful for love so deep and lasting that it causes a tidal wave in its loss. Anyway, this has helped my anxiety—clinging to the gratitude of knowing and holding my son for five years. This idea of: no one in the entire world got to mother him but me. No one. When I name it like that, it helps me no obsess over “what if the awful happens again” but instead be enveloped by the joy and love that I wouldn’t trade for anything. Anyway, I hope that makes sense. Sending love to you 💛

    • Beth says...

      Hello Jones, I am so sorry to hear about your very great loss. I recently read “Any Ordinary Day” by Leigh Sales with my book club – and highly recommend it (I’ve been persuading all my family and friends to read it!). Leigh is an Australian journalist, and she writes in the book about people who have experienced a life altering unimaginable event – and what happened afterwards. So many people were so generous in sharing their experiences with her, and the personal stories are also interspersed with academic research and interviews with people who work in related fields. I finished the book feeling comforted that although dreadful things do happen our lives, there an incredible capacity for love, resilience, and hope. Stuart Diver was one of the people who agreed to be interviewed (he lost his first wife in a terrible accident, and the second to cancer) he tells Leigh that in his experience “We can carry so much more than we think we can, whether that is love or pain. The pain is love. It’s just the manifestation of the sad side of losing someone, as opposed to them being with you.” Leigh also interviewed Juliet Darling, whose husband and his daughter were killed, she said the thing she hoped people would take away from her story was that “in pain, there’s also joy. You can’t be in the presence of just one thought, that life is good, or life is bad, or life is sad. There’s all these things. And there are so many good people in the world, actually, so much kindness. It’s everywhere.” Sending love to you in your grief xxx

    • jane says...

      What works for me is to realize that we create reality in each and every moment. All of our thoughts now generate the future we will experience, barring things we can’t control. And as regards those, it’s best to make the best of it. I also remind myself to choose love over fear whenenver I’m feeling afraid and worried. Love is intelligent and way more fun and creative than fear, which is constrictive, restrictive and oppressive in every way.

      I also practice visualizing positive outcomes and that is really helpful for reprogramming a fearful mindset. It gives your brain something much healthier to focus on.

    • Claire says...

      This sounds like grief rather than a generalized anxiety. I’m so sorry about the loss of your sister. It’s so hard to lose a loved one and even harder yet when you have an extra special bond. Grief has played a strong role in my life and, from what I have seen, it seems to follow it’s own unique path for each individual. Grief does lose it’s sharp edges over time and eventually practicing positive thoughts becomes a little easier. As my husband says, “You start with the little things.”

    • Ashley says...

      Jones, I am so so sorry for your loss. Sending you love from Austin

    • Nina says...

      I’m so sorry you lost your sister. That positive thinking thing can be problematic, I think. I don’t have any specific advice but I recently found this short video helpful and thought-provoking: https://youtu.be/wKfUK1Gd6YM

    • Maggie says...

      This is devastating. I am so sorry for your deep loss. I find that some worry is natural and to deny it isn’t totally human, especially after suffering through huge life traumas like yours. Wishing you healing.

    • Sarah says...

      Dear Jones, I am so sorry for the loss of your sister. Know that even in the far reaches of the internet I sit with you as you grieve. Sending a hug, hand on your shoulder or just and ear to listen.

    • S says...

      I am so sorry for your loss.

    • Susie says...

      I’m so sorry about your sister, what a devastating loss. I’m not sure there is an easy answer to your question.
      Since you asked how other people manage, I thought I’d share what I do. I struggle with serious health issues and sometimes when things are bad, I feel the same as you. Fortunately I have some wonderful people around me who don’t expect me to “put on a brave face” or “be positive” all the time – it’s ok to find life hard sometimes. Life can be bloody hard! But on a good day I try to remember to look at (or get into) nature. Noticing a little spring flower or leaf buds on trees or just giving my indoor plants some water can be enough to lift my spirits without my even noticing. I also have a list of “Dos & Don’ts” for a bad day e.g. do call my best friend and tell her how I truly am, don’t start something new, do look out the window…
      I’m so aware that none of these things will help you in your grief, but I hope that at least you know that you’re not alone. Sending you lots of love and sunshine x

    • Ibti says...

      Exactly this. People who have been through trauma know that things can get very bad, very quickly. I struggle with this also. Hugs to everyone struggling with the difficult times we are living in.

    • Laurel says...

      Nothing beats death. It’s what makes life worth living and losing someone is excruciatingly painful. I’m very sorry for your loss. And you’re right, it could happen again. We all stand to lose the ones we love the most, but that’s a hard place to stay in. Your sister would probably want you to feel the ease of walking outside on a warm day, sun shining but not too hot and to feel unburdened joy. I’m not trying to say you have to force yourself to get there. I do hope you find your way though.
      Thinking of you Jones ❤️

    • Molly says...

      I’m sorry your sister is gone Jones; your note brought me to tears bc I struggle with “thinking positively” too when I see so much pain and hurt around me (and in me). Of course there are beautiful things happening too, but when I think about my parents, my siblings, my friends going through the hard things they’re going through, it’s almost impossible to “think positive!”. Sidenote: as an atheist, I also watch in awe as folks of faith go through hard times and truly do seem to believe that and that “prayer works” when obviously it doesn’t always work to save the people we love. But that’s when the ole “god has a plan” kicks in, I suppose. Hopefully not offending you or other people of faith here; I used to be and it’s been a long hard sad road of letting go of it – something that can be such a source of comfort and strength in bad times and good. I just couldn’t believe the platitudes anymore because I wasn’t seeing them in my life or the people’s lives around me. I’m still a joyful person who sees good (and “god”) in people and the world around me; it’s just much more of a personal struggle to make that intentional instead of just putting blind belief in a spiritual leader who has a greater plan for everything.

    • Ilona says...

      This really resonates with me. My older sister died some years ago and I too tried to think positively during her illness – and the worst still happened. There was no silver lining, it was just a sad time. The grief fades and I do find joy in things. Positive thinking doesn’t influence outcomes, in my opinion – if someone is dying of cancer your good vibes won’t cure them – BUT if you can help them have a ‘good’ death, if you can spend time with them, you’ve done your best.

      Eighteen months is still very recent, you are still processing what happened. You don’t have to think positively when something terrible happens.

    • Jess says...

      I hear you. Both of my parents passed in the span of a year, and it’s hard to quiet the voices! I take a slightly different approach and remind myself that I’ve already experienced something that is usually much worse than whatever is running through my head. It helps puts things in perspective.

    • G says...

      I am so sorry to hear abt your sister. Your last lines hit close to home, as I too felt similar feelings and had similar thoughts when my husband passed away, and then I found myself unexpectedly pregnant with our fourth child. When the worst has happened and you are still reeling from it & dealing with it (years on), it is hard to really believe joy and contentment and all that is good are ever possible.

      I could not “think positive” for a long time. I just focused on getting through the hour, the day, the event, the week, whatever was manageable. Just getting through. And after enough “getting throughs”, my brain got strong enough to realise… if I could get through what was literally my worst nightmare… well, I can get through anything.

      I hope you will get through this. If you need help, I hope you will get the help you need to get through this. It may be a long “getting through”; it may be short. But may you get through this, one step a time.

    • Rachel says...

      I have been through some hard things – family members dying in a car crash when I was in high school, my beloved aunt passing away from cancer in her 50s and leaving behind three young grandchildren, one of my closest friends dying last year. I will say that I don’t have an anxiety problem – I’m not overly anxious and I don’t get caught up in “what ifs”. BUT something I do that not everyone does is that I let people know all the time how much I love them. I send cards with hand written notes for every event I can think of to people close and far away with updates on my life and stories/memories of things we’ve shared. I tell my friends and family I love them all the time. I try to share and show love in every way I can. If anything would ever happen to me or to my friends/family/partner I never want to have any regrets about not spending enough time with them or worrying that maybe they didn’t know how much I loved them. I don’t know if this is helpful, but maybe knowing you’ve done all you can to share love would help a tiny bit when you know you can’t control the outcome.

    • Ella says...

      I’m so sorry for your loss. I haven’t lost a sibling but I’ve had other very hard losses and tragedies throughout my life, all in my childhood. It is very hard to look ahead at life and expect the best when you have a really keen awareness of the worst and how likely it is. A friend who lost her son told me that at first she was so angry that it happened to her because she didn’t deserve it, but then she realized that bad things happen to people who don’t deserve it all the time and if she only got angry when it was about her she was selfish. It’s a strong perspective but it gave me two things: 1. Now I get angry about hard things happening to other people, not just to me. That has woken me up and given me so many chances to help alleviate suffering for others, which really helps me too. When you’re involved in a culture of giving you are able to help others but also realize that you will have help if you ever need it. 2. There is community in the hard stuff. I always call it my crappy club of people who know about real life. But we’re out here and you’re not alone, and connecting even just mentally to all the people out there going through something has helped me feel less alone. And less on the wrong/bad/horrible path. It’s just life and sometimes it’s messy, but even this painful road is full of wonderful people. I think being surrounded by wonderful people is one of the greatest joys of living.

    • Megan says...

      Jones, I’m so sorry for your loss. And Anne, and Naomi, Kate, and Seabee (I can’t even fathom, I’m so so sorry), Ilona, Jess, G, Rachel, and Ella… Yeah, I’m a sister in this crappy club of people who have learned that the worst sometimes happens. I don’t know that I have any wisdom to share, though thanks for sharing yours, I’m still struggling, and my grief is manifesting as anxiety and anger these days. But thanks to all of you for posting; it’s validating, and supportive in a way that no one can be if they haven’t been there. Sending all of you love, and strength, and wishing peace (maybe even some joy?) for all of us.

    • Jessica says...

      Like a “Mental Health Uniform” series!

    • Illana says...

      Jones —- yes. I see you. I think this is so hard, the hardest. I’m so sorry you have to feel this, that any of us do. Some things that I do are: work so hard (and sometimes fail) at staying in the present…no — at yanking myself back to the present so that I am not predicting *anything*, not good, not the worst. I also have a voice in my head from a friend whose child died, that the only way to honor them is to live hard and live well and live fully, because they couldn’t. While in some moments I feel like this sentiment can exert a lot of pressure, I still try to have it in the back of my mind because in some moments it allows me to step out of my own story. I am glad that you shared, glad that Joanna posted this, so grateful for all these comments because I find them comforting and I hope you do also. In Rachel Naomi Remen’s book, Kitchen Table Wisdom, she says something like when we live in the mysteriousness of all this in life and death, that’s really when we are closest to the truth. Sending much love to you and to all of this community.

  64. What if everything turns out wonderfully is a great sentiment. At times I am the glass half empty type. The other day I saw a bumper sticker that read “If anything can go right, it will.” It put a smile on my face.

  65. April says...

    Thank you for sharing this. It’s just what I needed to hear. :)

  66. Faith says...

    I heard Brené Brown discuss the concept of “dress rehearsing tragedy” on a podcast a few years ago. To this day it is the only effective tool to halt my anxiety before my worried thoughts begin to spiral out of control. I’ll think to myself, “Faith, you’re dress rehearsing tragedy again. Quit it!” Thank you for sharing her wisdom here!

  67. Katey says...

    I read a quote once that said worrying is like praying for things you don’t want. I try to remind myself that there are much better ways to spend my mental energy, but it is a constant struggle!

  68. Claudia says...

    When I struggled with infertility a friend told me to allow yourself only 1 hour a day to throw a self pity party and move on. It really helped me in those dark times. And guess what! We have 2 kids now. It worked out and I wish I have not waisted so many months feeling depressed about my life.
    Also when I have anxiety about life these day (plenty w kids) I use a Buddhist method of watching my negative thought passing through the sky and knowing they will go away and the sky will clear out! Just knowing that these moments will pass helps me so much!

  69. Becka says...

    SO lovely. Thank you for being our port in a storm.

  70. Emily says...

    It might help some to check into vitamin/mineral balance. Adding magnesium has really made a difference for me. My sister noticed a positive change in her anxiety after she started taking B complex, she was diagnosed with low Vitamin B.

  71. HM says...

    One thing that helped me immensely in a season of anxiety was something I read, that people who experience anxiety are often highly intelligent and highly empathetic. We’ve got active imaginations and we don’t want anything bad happening to people we love!

    When I go through seasons of anxiety, it helps to remind myself: in many ways, this is happening because you are kind. Returning to a place of kindness tends to move me forward.

    The other really helpful thing for me is doing “the next right thing.” Something like unloading the dishwasher while listening to an audiobook is a tiny, productive vacation from whatever was worrying me, and it almost always helps.

    • nm says...

      this.
      having anxiety doesn’t mean something is wrong with you. as a matter of fact, it might mean you’re actually a really wonderful being. empathy is wonderful, but brings (me) worry and stress (at times).

    • Anna says...

      Thank you for sharing this. I’ve taken a screenshot of your thoughtful comment to return to when my anxiety is spiralling.

    • A says...

      This is really helpful. Thank you.

    • Megan says...

      This is SO helpful. Sometimes I just can’t turn it off, can’t turn my thoughts around. And I’m a very action-oriented person. So, doing “the next right thing”. I love it.

      Also, as a reminder that these feelings are all happening in large part because I’m a loving person. Such a kindness to myself instead of a chastisement.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment!

  72. Julia says...

    What if I don’t get COIVD-19 and my whole family doesn’t die??? Is that how it goes? I like it. Will repeat daily

    Anxious in Seattle.

    • Emily says...

      I feel you Julia! Life in constant terror is taking its toll. This helps a lot.
      -Anxious in Redmond WA

    • Capucine says...

      This made me laugh out loud.

      Thanks for the dark humor.

    • jane says...

      Except try phrasing it with positive words: “What if I remain healthy and my family does too!” Don’t even mention words like “die” and etc.

      Also, “tie up your camel”, as the saying goes, (“trust everyone but still tie up your camel”): wear gloves in public places and with money handling and atm buttons, etc and maybe wear a mask.

    • jane says...

      Except try phrasing it with positive words: “What if I remain healthy and my family does too!” Don’t even mention words like “die” and etc.

      Also, “tie up your camel”, as the saying goes: (“trust everyone but still tie up your camel”): wear gloves in public places and with money handling and atm buttons, etc and maybe wear a mask.

      In Tacoma at present : )

    • beth says...

      I hear you.

    • Inga says...

      Nope. Our brain can not think *not* about something. Wanna try? Look at the clock and try for 1 single minute NOT to think about a pink elephant.

      Tried it? What was on your mind? Tadaaa… In your sentences the words „COVID-19“ and „die“ stick out, and those are the ones your nervous system reacts to (hello, stress, worries and anxiety). To turn it around you need to use the positive words, something like: My family is going to stay healthy and thrive!

    • Inga says...

      I hope you feel a little better with this twist of things. I wish you and your family all the best!

    • Rusty says...

      What if you do get it and recover easily, as so many young, healthy people have and will.

    • Julia says...

      Thank you all for the kind responses. Lol as you can see my anxiety is THRIVING.

      I do love all of the positive comments from everyone and will try my hardest to think positive.

      In other good news we get to work from home for a month and the Seattle buses are the cleanest I’ve ever seen. Never thought I would say that a bus looked beautiful and sparkly did I now?

  73. Michelle says...

    And even if it doesn’t go okay….we will often be okay. Maybe something going wrong is the universe’s way to challenge your growth.

    • Maggie says...

      This is devastating. I am so sorry for your deep loss. I find that some worry is natural and to deny it isn’t totally human, especially after suffering through huge life traumas like yours. Wishing you healing.

  74. Elizabeth says...

    I wish I could tell you how much I needed to hear this!! Thank you. For both this and the heart-swellingly beautiful Eric Kim piece earlier, I am feeling so much gratitude for Cup of Jo today.

    • Julia says...

      I second this.

  75. M says...

    I try to meet anxious thoughts with a pause, and a long slow breath in, and an even longer, slower breath out. Cliched at this point among ladies like us, but nonetheless a huge help!

    And remember that anxious thoughts/ruminations/pessimisms rob energy that can used instead to seek out and savor small slivers of joy instead. We only have so much time, you know? I like the efficiency of that.

  76. K says...

    O gosh this is so me, and just knowing I’m not the only one helps. I started getting panic attacks at 27. I often have the problem of being too risk averse and leading with fear, and yes the useless what-ifing, and yet reckless in the wrong ways anyways.

    These past weeks I’ve had a panic attack almost everyday for understandable but unnecessary reasons. They go in waves, feel like I’m getting better and then I relapse a bit. What helps is talking to people and the comfort in realizing 99.99% of it is in my head. I AM in control of the situation, and being brave in my brain actually helps the situation NOT happen. Deep breathing or getting lost in a task also helps. In addition I’ve been mostly avoiding “exciting” foods. Caffeine, spicy and fried foods. Drugs, alcohol (reminds me of the Jeong Kwan episode of Chef’s Table). I used to scoff at old lady diet restrictions like these, and now I understand, in my late twenties, right on cue.

  77. KC says...

    This is so timely, as always. I have a happy, healthy newborn daughter, but ever since her birth my pre-existing anxiety has gone through the roof. I worry about everything and anything – her health, the state of our country and the world she’s now living in – and it’s robbed me of so much joy over the past 8 weeks. I’ve been mulling over reaching out to a therapist and this is a good reminder that it’s in my (and my daughter’s) best interest to do so.

    • Tracey says...

      Sending you encouragement. Therapy is just a doctor for our souls and minds, you’ll be surprised at what patterns you dig up.

      Three of my tips for anyone considering it;
      1. You can “interview” therapists by email to see if they’re a good fit for you. Send a short note to a bunch of therapists explaining your problem and then wait. Evaluate for tone, promptness, professionalism. You can also hire and fire – commit to therapy, not a therapist.
      2. You get to drive the bus. I was always worried that a therapist might rifle through my issues without me having control, like an errant toddler flinging through a suitcase with abandon. But the good (and bad) truth is that they can only work with what you give them. You are in control. Say what you think “I don’t see the point in this exercise” “I feel like I’m not moving fast enough” “I am not ready to answer that” “I don’t know”.
      3. It will be hard at first. You’ve survived this far on the patterns you established in childhood. Lizard brain is not going to appreciate the disturbance. You may struggle with relationships that have been built on unstable grounds as you get healthier. Other relationships will blossom as you become more yourself. A good therapist will help you navigate this path.

      For me, It is undeniably worth it, it is a gift to your children to model getting help and working on yourself, after all, isn’t that what we want for their generation?

    • Capucine says...

      Hi. Postpartum anxiety is a thing, just like postpartum depression is a thing. I didn’t know that. When you don’t have any skin between you and all the things that could happen to your precious baby, that is postpartum anxiety. Therapy is a great idea so you can just cry and get some of it out. For me, I realized eventually that the acute hormones of the birthing year magnified an existing thread of anxiety that had formerly been an unnoticeable aspect of myself. After my last child was old enough for kindergarten, I really REALLY went to therapy and finally focused on the cracks those vulnerable years showed me but I couldn’t address. Humbling, motherhood. Yes, your caring heart is important, and if you cannot do therapy/meds/self care right now, make a note to yourself describing how it really feels right now for you, so when nobody is breastfeeding you can remember honestly on the therapist’s couch. Says the mom who didn’t address her mental health until it kept being problematic for too many years.

    • Jackie says...

      Do it, talk to the therapist. The paperwork was the hardest hurdle when my daughter was a newborn and I was in a fog but it was worth it. Postpartum land is so anxiety ridden it’s a rough ride. You’re doing great, it will pass (and talking to a therapist will help!).

    • beth says...

      Especially in the fragile post-natal period, hormones and emotions are all over. Please do reach out to a therapist. Not just for your family but for yourself. Wish I had done so sooner.

  78. Katrina says...

    As a new mom, I definitely needed to read this! I told myself before I got pregnant that I would be the chill mom and act like my 1st kid was my 3rd… yeah, that’s not happening. I am in a near-constant state of worry and self doubt. Any other tips to help me turn my brain off while I try to fall asleep between feeds at night would be appreciated!

    • El says...

      You’re not alone, Katrina!

    • Michelle says...

      When our baby was new and still sleeping in a bassinet in our room, I would lay in bed with my husband on one side of me and my baby on the other listening to them breathing – familiar, soft man snores and tiny grunting and squeaking breaths – and just be full of gratitude for both of their lives and my place (literally and figuratively) in them. I didn’t always fall asleep quickly after feeding, but listening with a thankful heart gave me a reason to enjoy being awake at those hours.

    • Jackie says...

      As I was having trouble falling asleep postpartum I started picturing amazing things I couldn’t wait to do with my daughter when she was older. Instead of picturing the scary things anxiety puts in your brain. It helped me. Sometimes I’d ask my husband to just tell me a story of all the happy things to come and fall asleep to that. It helped! And it passes in its intensity, postpartum is HARD. You’re doing great!

    • I’m also an anxious person who found it dialed way up after having my first baby. I wish I hadn’t tried so hard to appear effortlessly perfect and had got myself some more help and support in those days! As for sleep, thinking of ten things I’m grateful for in that day never fails to send me to sleep before I hit ten. Make them specific so you have to think hard and there’s less room for the worries to creep in. And please don’t be like me, please try to get support!

    • Katrina says...

      I love all of these ideas. Thanks everyone!

  79. Lucy says...

    Many times a week, I think about and recognize “thin slices of joy,” which I learned from COJ. After having my twins in my mid thirties, I found I was more anxious and less of an optimist than I was before becoming a parent. Identifying and appreciating small moments of joy throughout every day has really changed that for me. And maybe it helps that my twin infants are now six ;-)

    Thanks for the best reading on the web.

    • M says...

      I think about the slices of joy post often too! And it’s helped me so much to not chase after some impossible end point where everything’s great and I always feel fine. Enjoy the tiny slices when things are great and you feel fine, knowing that they will always go away – and always return.

  80. Erin says...

    For a long time I thought of myself as “too anxious” and tried to paper over that feeling with exactly these sorts of anti-anxiety mind tricks. It took years to realize that my “anxiety” was actually my brain reacting to an insidiously emotionally abusive marriage.

    I think it’s extremely important to realize you can feel consistently worried about something that makes you deeply uncomfortable FOR GOOD REASON. It wasn’t until I got individual counseling, away from my now-ex husband (who was good at convincing couples counselors I was “too anxious” and was therefore the problem in our marriage) that I figured out what all those anxious feelings were about.

    LISTEN to your anxiety, people. Sometimes it has something really, really important to tell you.

    • Faith says...

      This is absolutely true! However, the point of Brené Brown’s concept of “dress rehearsing tragedy” is not to shut down your gut instincts (you need to trust your gut in order to stay safe!), but to shut down pointless, worrisome thoughts, such as imagining the sudden death your child or obsessing over scenarios which are unlikely to happen (such as dying in a fiery car crash on your upcoming road trip). I hope this helps to clarify!

    • Erin says...

      Faith, I do get the distinction — now, with 20:20 hindsight and lots of water under the bridge post-divorce.

      The problem is that when you’re in the middle of spending YEARS hearing someone who “loves” you say that your gut instincts are actually “pointless worrisome thoughts,” it becomes very, very difficult to tell the difference. It’s totally crazy-making, in fact.

      So for anyone out there who is being told their anxiety is irrational but who thinks maybe, just *maybe,* it’s not … please check in with a neutral third party. Trusted friend, individual therapist, etc. For me, it took a COLOSSAL amount of courage to ask for this sort of gut-check from outside. But I’m very glad I did.

  81. Cici says...

    “Supposing a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?’
    ‘Supposing it didn’t,’ said Pooh after careful thought.
    Piglet was comforted by this.”
    – A.A. Milne

    • Kim says...

      This is wonderful. Thanks for sharing it.

    • Joaquina says...

      Had to screenshot this quote & send to my fellow anxiety-suffering friend. I love this so much, thank you for sharing!

  82. Ina says...

    I have to try this trick! I always think of the quote by Mark Twain: “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.”

    • Laura G. says...

      so true!

  83. J says...

    just a couple of things that have helped me with my anxiety–

    …make a list of all the times when something you were worried about didn’t happen or went much better than you thought it would

    …answer your own “what if” to put it to rest. this may not work as well for intensely catastrophic thoughts, but if you have social anxiety like me, it can be helpful. like, ok so what if the worst case scenario did happen, what would I do? I would cry, or I would apologize, or I would go to therapy, etc. once you see that you have a response to the worst case scenario, it loses some of its power of you.

    …play the evidence game. you’re worried about something (for example, you’re convinced your boss is unhappy with your work). you get a sheet of paper and make two columns, one pro, one con. on the pro side, list all the evidence you have that is making you think this scary thing. on the other side, list all the evidence that is counter to that. if you’re anything like me, you’ll often end up with a very imbalanced page, where one side says “slightly shorter than usual email” and the other side has a ton of evidence to the contrary. and then you can look at the things on the pro side and come up with alternative explanations. maybe that short email was because she was running late to another meeting, or emailing from her phone while grabbing lunch, or maybe she’s just tired!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      these are really smart, J. thank you so much!

  84. CJ says...

    What a helpful idea!!
    Something else that helped me a lot was quitting caffeine. I had accepted anxiety as part of my personality for all of my adult life. I never connected it to caffeine consumption until a friend told me she had recently quit. I have been caffeine-free for over a year now, and I don’t think I’ll ever go back! I feel like a calmer, more zen version of my previous self. I also have more sustained energy throughout the day. It has been such revelation! I do miss coffee a lot, but high quality decaf is *almost* as good :)

    • Savannah says...

      I am a decaf girl as well now for the same reason! What brand do you love? I’ve tried several and it’s mediocre quality!

    • Faith says...

      I recently quit alcohol and have had a similar experience! My emotional baseline is now happy, zen, and just… grateful. Now if I could just kick my coffee addiction! ;) I love Philz decaf coffee (I’m on the West Coast)—it has zero caffeine and is a glorious substitute for my evening glass(es) of wine. Philz is pretty expensive, though; I hope to see some other decaf recommendations on here!!

    • Jo says...

      Savannah – try Whole Foods 365 brand “Buzz Free Decaf” – its quite good and very reasonably priced :)

    • beth says...

      Faith, I had to cut coffee completely out for several months starting last summer (after years and years of multiple cups a day for survival) when I started the autoimmune protocol diet (I had to cut a lot of things out, actually, but losing coffee was the hardest for me). I can drink coffee now, but only very occasionally. Maca tea has been a lifesaver for me- it’s a Peruvian root ground into a powder. A lot of people add it to smoothies, but I dissolve some in a cup of hot water with a little bit of honey- it gives me some energy and is a nice hot replacement. It has a nutty flavor. Good luck!

  85. Jess says...

    That reminded me of a poem I love!

    Sometimes by Sheenagh Pugh

    Sometimes things don’t go, after all,
    from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel
    faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don’t fail,
    sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.

    A people sometimes will step back from war;
    elect an honest man, decide they care
    enough, that they can’t leave some stranger poor.
    Some men become what they were born for.

    Sometimes our best efforts do not go
    amiss, sometimes we do as we meant to.
    The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
    that seemed hard frozen: may it happen for you.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s beautiful.

    • Maggie says...

      How wonderful. Thank you!

    • Di says...

      This is lovely and exactly what I need right now.

    • Sonja says...

      so lovely and encouraging

    • Charlotte says...

      THIS … is why I love to be here. Thank you for this space where we can all come to talk and laugh and share some beauty.

  86. MKW says...

    A friend who won a battle with cancer said… “If I worried about the negatives and it never happened then I wasted much time. On the other hand, if I worried about it and it later happened then I suffered twice.” Another dear friend who lost her husband at a young age sent two boys off to the Gulf War. When I asked how she handled it, she replied, “Each night as I said my prayers I would imagine God’s big open hands and I would mentally put each one of those boys in His hands. I fell asleep each night.” (They returned home.)

    • Lauren says...

      Something that has helped me a lot lately when I have anxious thoughts (often while trying to fall asleep at night) is I take a deep breath and imagine pushing the thought away with my exhale. The visual really helps me shut the spiral down, because I can’t think the thought if it’s gone on the wind, right?

  87. M says...

    Another great way to deal with this feeling is to turn it into gratitude. Instead of imagining what could go wrong, re-route that thought to being grateful the child is in your life, that you are healthy, etc.

  88. Hana says...

    was just sitting here, thinking and thinking about how anxious I am right now over nothing. Thank you for the great timing!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      <3

  89. Cooper says...

    That comment has made SUCH a difference for me, too! Thanks, Beth!

  90. Brittany Pfister says...

    I saw a tote that said:

    Everything is going to be okay.
    Most likely better than okay.
    Most likely awesome.

    I wrote it down because it really hit the spot.

    • Capucine says...

      I like to say ‘Everything IS okay’. I switched to that when a beloved was dying slowly. When I tucked my kids in at night I used to say ‘will be’ but that’s like saying it’s not okay now, and also promising something for the future that clearly was going to feel mighty untrue. And in a quiet dark room, sleepy and warm, with your mama and papa tucking blankets around your shoulders, everything in that simple minute actually is ok, even if tomorrow death happens. Here, now, everything is ok – you’re alive, we’re together. No matter the war fought outside the door.

  91. M says...

    It’s so true. One of my best friends has a way of keeping this in focus when life is scary, reminding me that worry only makes you suffer twice if things don’t go as planned. Who wants to suffer twice?

  92. I’m going to join you in trying this approach. I have a tendency of what-if-ing life’s greatest disasters pretty quickly. Sometimes I wonder–if being a mom of an only child makes me more anxious because I am hyper-focused on keeping the one kid we have safe from all evils?! Highly doubtful since anxiety is like an annoying cold that comes back no matter how much you arm yourself against it! haha! I am always willing to try anything that will lessen my emotional baggage on my kiddo. Cheers to positive what-if-ing!

    **Off topic–I would love to read a motherhood post about Mothers with one child (with Children in varying age groups). For instance, leaving your only with a babysitter is different vibe when they are are on their own, friendships, the family dynamic-three musketeers, etc.

    Thank you for continuing to provide us with great posts!

    xo
    Lendy
    Twoplusluna

  93. Ana says...

    I tried this for just a few minutes and felt my whole mood brighten… thank you for this lovely tip! I can’t wait to see that it does for me over longer periods of time. For sure will be sharing with friends :)

  94. B says...

    Along those lines, I have long loved this exchange – “Supposing a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?” “Supposing it didn’t,” said Pooh after careful thought. Piglet was comforted by this.

    And this gem from Mark Twain – “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”

    I have to remind myself that perhaps this is another day that will end in a warm bed, tomorrow is another morning that the sun will come up, and we will do the best we can and enjoy each other as the days pass.

    • Ellen says...

      Love that Winnie the Pooh quote. <3

  95. Susan says...

    So a somewhat contrary view – Joanna, you’re enormously successful. This site is like the best magazine, and continues to get better (that Eric Kim article!). And maybe, just maybe…dress rehearsing all the bad stuff that could happen is exactly how you achieve what you’ve been able to achieve. I know it’s not fun to imagine the worst case scenario, but it helps identify and overcome obstacles.

    There’s scientific research that proves just this: https://www.happinesslab.fm/season-1-episodes/dont-accentuate-the-positive

    • Annie K. says...

      I love this! And I think it’s got to be a “both and” situation. A large part of why I have achieved “success” (high functioning in career and relationships) is because I have gauged possible outcomes and gone for the one I’m less likely to regret in the future, which for a large part looks like listening to anxieties or playing out possible failures. But also there are times when thinking through all the negative outcomes (or, say, numerous other possibilities) of a situation is ruminative and not helpful. Enjoying things in the moment (like a child climbing on a branch despite possible injury) vs making a career decision (by combing through all the possible negative and positive outcomes) require different skills suited to the issue at hand. Wow. Humans are amazing.

    • Erika says...

      I totally agree! Anxiety may be uncomfortable sometimes — but it has value and makes you, you. It is not something to “fix” but something to manage and channel, into gratitude, into activities, into passions. If you weren’t so worried about certain things, do you think you would appreciate other things soooo very much???

      I struggled mightily when I was diagnosed with OCD at 40, but then I read something (I wish I remembered where) about how OCD was an evolutionary benefit. Who do you think made sure the fire never went out? Watched the horizon for the enemy all night long? Ensured the provisions were safely packed for a long journey? This made me realize that it is good for society that some of us are wired like me. And, ultimately, it was my focus, my doggedness, my attention to detail that made me successful in life. I stopped trying to “fix” it and instead turned to management (medication, exercise, etc.). And now I am happier, and more content, than I have ever been.

      Mental issues have drawbacks, for sure — but they also have benefits. We need big thinkers, creative types, worriers, risk-takers, obsessives, narcissists, social butterflies and introverts. We can’t all do things the same way, at the same level. It is the combination of all of us that makes society work.

  96. Ari says...

    I really like that term, “dress rehearsing tragedy.” First time I’ve heard of it, but it so accurately captures what’s being experienced. Over the past few years, I’ve done a lot of work to undo my tendency to do that. The way I pushed through was to say “There is no good reason to feel [sad, angry, despair, etc.] twice.” (once being in the moment and twice when the “what if” actually happens). Other tips that have been helpful are: 1. to sing a short song like “Happy Birthday” to sever the anxiety spiral and 2. to catch myself in a worry and say “save it for worry time, later.” Worry time = a set 20m a day to worry. And no more. Don’t write the worries down – if you forget about something, good!

    I am so glad I started this work before having my son. I still have anxiety, but having these tools have made me more at peace with control (or lack thereof).

  97. Jules says...

    Mine has taught me that I’m not an anxious person, I’m just a person who has anxiety sometimes, and this helps a lot for me. When I can remember that anxiety is just something I’m probably going to do have every now and then I realize… oh wait, I dont HAVE to do this. It’s a choice I’m making and I can choose to stop and think something else. *or Timshel, if you happen to be an East of Eden fan like myself

  98. Lorraine says...

    Thanks for this! I needed it. Somehow my 40s have turned this once-zen girl into one so prone to anxiety. Being both a mom to two littles and a daughter to two aging parents certainly sets the stage. I like to believe I’ll return to the optimistic person I had a reputation for being some 20 years ago.

    • Clare says...

      I feel ya. No kids (infertility issues) but dealing with my aging parents is ROUGH. I’ve always been optimistic & happy but since by dad got sick 2 years ago I haven’t seemed to be able to get back to my normal self. Sending you love & strength!

    • Katha says...

      So this is what happens? Anxiety as a midlife crisis?
      Lately I find myself worrying more than ever in my life and that is a strange new feeling for me.

      It‘ll be ok. If if not we will deal with it.

  99. Emma says...

    This made me think of the wonderful A. A. Milne quote in your recent post about beautiful writings:

    “ ‘Supposing a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?’
    ‘Supposing it didn’t,’ said Pooh after careful thought.
    Piglet was comforted by this.”
    — A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, i love that.

  100. Leah says...

    Love this, thanks for sharing-I’ll have you try it next time!

  101. Andrea says...

    I deal with this so much, too. Whenever I am feeling nervous or anxious, I have used author Michael Singer’s trick of kinda splitting myself in two – the anxious voice with the what if’s and the one listening to the voice. When I realize nothing the voice says is true, helpful, or anything I would say to a friend or loved one (who tells their nervous friend after they’ve had a baby, “What if something bad happens?”), I thank the voice and tell it to be quiet. It may sound a bit crazy, but it has helped so much in separating nervous thoughts from truth.

    • Clare says...

      Interesting technique! Going to try this.

  102. Anonymous says...

    I really needed this today! Thank you.

    • Heather says...

      This post reminded me to pick up Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly again. I just reread Chapter 4 where she teaches about this- it’s worthwhile weekend reading! She writes about vulnerability and gratitude as antidotes to rehearsing tragedy. I needed this reminder today- I couldn’t get a deep breath all day, just straight worrying over here after the virus and awful tornadoes hit my town this week. Dr Brown says “every time we allow ourselves to lean into joy and give in to those moments, we build resilience and cultivate hope.”

      I also do this weird chant thing with my kids where I say “we can do!” And then we clap twice, and they say “hard things!” They add bottom shakes and high fives, obviously. I say it to myself when they aren’t around. :)
      Thanks Cup of Jo team, as always.

  103. Eleanor says...

    A good therapist told me “focus less on what *if* and more on what *is*” so you can focus on what’s really happening, like your child climbing a tree, and enjoy that moment. Amazing what a difference one letter makes.

    • Julia says...

      So true. Thank you for sharing.

  104. Caitlin says...

    as someone prone to anxiety as well, this has worked for me as well. i call it letting go of the outcome – or not borrowing tomorrow’s problems. especially in parenthood it has helped me come from a place of empowerment with my children. and they experience more joy because of it!

  105. Adele says...

    This is a very timely post. I just read the series by the NYT on child abuse imagery online and how it’s a huge and terrible pandemic, and although it’s such an important subject, I find myself paralysed by anxiety about my young daughter’s wellbeing. I feel traumatised by what I read (I can’t imagine how the people affected by this reality can cope with it)… so any tips to snap back to the present are appreciated.

    • alexis says...

      I read that series too and it’s awful. and as a mom to two young girls, it was terrifying. This might be bonkers, but when the anxiety and fear and overwhelmingness of it all are paralyzing, I think about the frozen II song when Anna is overwhelmed by grief but convinces herself to get up and keep going by singing “just do the next right thing.” I really think that song was made for times like this. If I can just do the next right thing and keep putting one foot in front of the other, the big problems aren’t quite so paralyzing anymore.

    • Faith says...

      Oh man, I can hardly bear to read articles like that. Even skimming an upsetting headline regarding child abuse can ruin my day. Motherhood is exhausting and amazing, isn’t it? Our hearts carry our own children, and can instantly expand—often breaking, aching—for the children to strangers.

    • Adele says...

      Thank you for you insight Alexis and Faith. Your words have brought me some comfort.

  106. Amy says...

    “Dress rehearsing tragedy” – such a true statement. I’m not anxious in general, but I’ve spent a TON of time contemplating how I will navigate life if my husband dies (he goes away for months at a time for work, and the experience always makes me wonder what it would be like if I knew he was never coming back). Thanks for the tip to rephrase!

  107. another momma says...

    on a similar vein, i have a quote in my office that says: think about what could go right! I need to actually do that more often, because it helps!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i love that!

    • Renee says...

      Yes! I ask myself “what’s the best that could happen?” rather than worst and it makes everything less daunting.