This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Power of Positive Thinking" by Norman Vincent Peale. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.
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Is your mind constantly overwhelmed by worrisome and racing thoughts? How can chronic worrying affect your mental and physical health?
Chronic worrying is a toxic mental habit that wears out your mind and can even sabotage physical health. Chronic worry is also dangerous because when you worry about something for a long time, you can actually draw it into your life.
Here are some tips on how to deal with chronic worrying.
Breaking the Chronic Worry Habit
Chronic worrying is a destructive and unhealthy mental habit that can actually cause health problems. The word “worry” is derived from a word whose literal meaning is “to choke.” Think of worry as choking the flow of your power.
The good news is that worry is a habit, and because you can change any habit, you can break the worry habit and live more freely and happily. There are 3 steps to this process:
1. Believe you can: The first step to banish worry is to believe you can. With God’s help, you can do whatever you believe you can do.
2. Empty your mind: Emptying your mind is important because fearful thoughts can clog your thinking. The five minutes right before you go to sleep are particularly important because the mind will absorb the last ideas you’re thinking while conscious.
- To empty your mind, visualize yourself actually emptying your mind of your worries and anxieties. You can think of it as emptying a bathtub after removing the stopper, or you can imagine reaching into your mind and plucking out the worries one by one.
- As you do this visualization, repeat an affirmation along the lines of, “I’m emptying my mind of all worry, fear and anxiety with God’s help.” Repeat this slowly five times.
- After you repeat this five times, add a new affirmation such as: “My mind is now emptied of all fear, worry and anxiety.” Repeat this affirmation 5 times, while visualizing your mind as empty of these negative emotions.
- Thank God for releasing your worries and go to sleep. Repeat this exercise three times a day: midmorning, midafternoon, and bedtime. This process works because visualizing yourself as free from worry will eventually lead to actually being free from worry.
3. Refill your mind with positive thoughts. Since your mind won’t stay empty for long, you must refill it with positive thoughts of faith and hope. Repeat a calming affirmation such as this: “God is filling my mind with peace and hope, protecting me and my family from harm. God will guide my decisions.” Do this six times a day. When you fill your mind with faith, there won’t be any room left over for fear.
How to Create a Peaceful Mind
There are several methods by which you can attain a peaceful state of mind and a calm attitude:
- Empty the mind. Empty the mind at least twice a day. When you consciously empty your mind of fear and worry, you’ll experience relief and release.
- Refill the mind. After you empty the mind, you have to refill it with positive, healthy thoughts and peaceful images, or the old miserable thoughts will just come sneaking back in again. Practice thinking peaceful thoughts. Visualize a peaceful scene you once encountered, such as a lovely beach. These peaceful images are healing.
- Say peaceful words. Words have power; repeating anxious, worrisome words helps produce a state of anxiety and panic. But speaking peaceful words helps keep your mind calm. .
10 Ways to Defeat Worry
Here’s a simple formula to help you break the chronic worry habit.
- Understand that worrying is a bad habit—one that God can help you change.
- Practice the opposite of worry—faith. Develop the faith habit.
- Practice faith by repeating “I believe” three times out loud first thing in the morning.
- In the morning, say a prayer where you place the day in God’s hands, knowing that only good things can come from God.
- Speak positively. Use only positive words in relation to anything you’ve been negative about in the past.
- Don’t join in conversations where people are worrying about something. Instead, add faith and positivity to the conversation.
- When you worry, your mind is filled with gloomy thoughts, so fill them with faith thoughts instead. Find Bible passages that speak about faith, hope and happiness, and memorize them. Repeat them to yourself.
- Find hopeful, positive people to be around. This will help you maintain a faith attitude.
- Help other people overcome their worry habits.
- Understand that you aren’t alone. You and God are partners in life. Say out loud that God is with you.
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- That there is no problem or obstacle you can’t overcome with faith, positive thinking, and prayer
- The practical techniques of applied Christianity
- How to take control of the events in your life rather than be directed by them