*An Excerpt from CALM
Imagine you are sitting in the airport, just about to board a plane and go on the vacation of a lifetime. You have planned this vacation for months and you desperately need it. You want to feel excited about the trip, but instead you find yourself compiling an extensive “what if” list:
- What if my luggage gets lost?
- What if something happens to my children while I’m away?
- What if the plane crashes?
After mentally creating your list, you ask yourself: “Is it possible these things will happen?” The answer is yes—of course, it’s possible. All things are possible. Anything can happen. That’s why, when we think about the unlimited possibilities of what might go wrong in any given situation, an enormous amount of anxiety can set in. Suddenly, you notice you are no longer looking forward to your trip; instead, you are looking for the nearest exit.
The good news is that you can regain your inner peace by changing the question. Instead of asking “Is it possible?” shift the question to “Is it probable?” In other words, ask yourself, “Is it likely that what I’m worried about will happen?” By simply changing the focus of the question from possibility to probability, you will gain a better perspective. I’ve found that taking time to rate the probability of something happening has helped me eliminate a large number of my concerns. Try it for yourself:
Step One: Write down the thing that you are worried might happen.
Step Two: Rate the probability of it actually happening on a scale of 1 to 10.
(1=least likely to happen; 10=most likely to happen.)
Did you rate your worry a 5 or less? That’s a pretty good indication that what you’re worried about won’t happen.
Did you rate your worry a 9 or less? It’s estimated that at least 90 percent of the things we worry about will not happen. Even if you rated the probability at a 9, there’s a good chance that what you are worried about is still not going to occur.
Did you rate your worry a 10? You feel what you are worried about is extremely likely to happen. There is hope: the next three steps in the CALM process will help you let go of worry—even those worries with a 10 rating!
When “what if” thoughts take over your thinking, remember to change the question from “Is it possible?” to “Is it probable?” It will go a long way in helping you to reconnect with your inner peace.