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When Anxious Thoughts Come . . .

Capture those thoughts. Don’t let bothersome or random thoughts sidetrack you just because they come into your mind. Always keep a note pad nearby and capture them by writing them down. Leave enough space so you can tear them apart and still have room to make some notes.

Process those thoughts. When you are learning to capture thoughts, you may want to process them after you finish with the current task. As you trust that thoughts can be captured, schedule regular processing times with longer timespans between (for example, one a day). Either way works.

  1. Clear enough space to have room to create 4 piles: (1) your working pile, (2) an action pile, (3) a discard pile.
  2. Tear your captured thoughts apart so you can handle one at a time. Don’t worry this is “work product.” It should not be pretty and neat. Stack the thoughts in your working pile.
  3. Pick up one thought and ask yourself the questions below.
  4. Individually address every thought in your working pile. Work fast. Trust that you know the answers to these questions. If you don’t, ask someone who doesn’t seem to worry much to help you learn to do this.

Is there any truth in this thought? If not, what is the truth about this thought?

  • I don’t know if there is anything truthful here.  Ask yourself, “Where can I go for the truth about this thought?” and make a note to trace down the truth first. Let’s focus and attend to things that are truthful. Remember, source of truth must be reputable! Place this note in the action pile. Pick up your next thought.
  • Is this something that is not true I need to consider addressing and correcting? There are times we are called to address lies. It’s important to hear what God wants us to focus on. You action should be to seek instructions from God first. Make that note, place this in your action pile and pick up to the next thought.
  • No, this is really not true. Disregard the thought by laying it in the discard pile and pick up your next thought.
  • Yes, this is truth. Ask, “What is the truth in this thought?” We want to limit our focus on things that are truthful. Make notes you want to remember. Go to the next question.

Is this something that I am responsible for and/or have control over?

  • I don’t know if I’m responsible for or have control over this matter. Ask yourself, “Where can I go for the truth about my responsibility?” and make a notation to consult. We want to limit our focus on those things that are within our sphere of responsibility and/or control. Place this note in the action pile, because you need to know the answer to this question before you answer others. Pick up your next thought.
  • No, I’m not responsible nor do I have control over this. Disregard the thought by laying it in the discard pile and pick up your next thought.
  • I’m responsible but I have no control over this. Ask yourself, “Who has control and how can I help them responsibly handle this concern? What do they need to know?” This is an opportunity to influence. Note your answer on the page and go to the next question.
  • I’m not responsible but I have control over this. Ask, “How can I help the one who is responsible learn to address this concern appropriately? What do they need to know?” This is an opportunity to teach and train. Note your answer on the page. Go to the next question.
  • Yes, I’m responsible and have control over this. Go to next question.

What is the best way to address this concern? 

  • I don’t know the best approach. Ask yourself, “Who can help me determine the best way to handle this concern?” Note who you need to consult. Remember, ask someone who is wise and will give good advice. It’s always helpful to ask God what to do. Make the notes needed, put this in your action pile and pick up your next thought.
  • I have some ideas. Create a plan and put this thought in your action pile and pick up your next thought.

Now you have a discard pile and an action pile.

Move the discard pile out of sight. Learn to let go of the the discard pile. First, ask God to take care of these thing over which you have no control, responsibility, or influence. Then, move the pile out of sight. It could go in the trash. This is a physical way of letting go of those things over which you have no control or that are

Ask this last question for every thought in your action pile:

Is this something that I need to address now?

  • I don’t know if this is the right time. Ask yourself, “Who can help me know when to address this?” Then talk to that person. Timing is very important. Don’t act until you understand the timing needed.
  • No, this is not the right time. Make a note in on your calendar and return to it at that time. Put the note in a place where you can get to it when the right time arrives.
  • Yes, this needs to be addressed now. Get to it. Taking action based on good decision-making helps defeat anxiety!

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