Convert Your Worries into Problem-Solving Thinking  
Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

Worrying is one type of mental work, but a work misguided, is a "fruitless labor," which involves a lot of overtime without any compensation. In fact the one who does the overtime "pays." An "injury" related to the work of worrying is not covered by any workmen's comp insurance. 

The heartaches and headaches resulting from worrying are not merely painful, they can be tortuous. The word "worrying" has a noteworthy origin, it is derived from an Anglo-Saxon word, wyrgan, which means to choke or strangle. Worry is that thief that sneaks in on the worriers in the night, or whenever they are alone and not watching themselves. It mentally chokes a worrier with steady and unrelenting pressure. This is a graphic description of what we who are "worry warts" do to ourselves. 

Worrying has afflicted us long as we can remember. A pre-historic rock excavated in Britain, has a carving of a wolf sinking its teeth into the throat of a man. Anthropologists believe that some ancient "rock artist" was perhaps trying to illustrate what the act of worrying did to people.

Worriers, in the act of worrying, literally choke or strangle their creative thinking and problem solving abilities. So let us direct the fruitless worrying to what it's really intended for in the first place, that is, to actually solve the problem which we are worried about. One of the effective methods of doing this is to program our mind for a problem-solving dream with a specific target.

The above stated idea sounds strange. But think about it. Is our mind during our sleep is really a "sleeping mind?" Most of us grew thinking that dreaming has nothing to do with the real world problems, let alone with solving them. The truth is that the mind does work in dreams and at times, it can do a superb job with a little bit of coaxing and direction from you. 

Dr. Gayle Delaney in "Breakthrough Dreaming" encourages us to utilize the "24-hour mind, " even when we are sleeping. Instead of worrying and keeping awake, by Delaney's method that I  will just describe, you can go to sleep and create dreams to help you solve problems. Dreaming and sleeping can become means of problem solving. Thus, the old saying, "Why don't you go to sleep on this problem?" acquires a new meaning. Perhaps, human beings have known all along that we do problem solving in our dreams. All of us can learn to do this, at will. 

Therefore, instead of tossing and turning in bed and keeping awake in the night, worrying about a problem, "incubate," a dream. To do this, define the problem, form specific questions, repeat those questions to yourself, and then turn it over to your mind and simply go to sleep. Specific steps involved in dream incubation are the following:

1. When you are preoccupied and worried about a problem, pick up a piece of a paper and write down the date at the top

2. Write down a few lines about what you did and what you felt that day. 

3. Write down about the problem that you are worrying about. This is the problem about which you want to dream that night and want your mind to offer a solution in your dream. Limit it to one paragraph which addresses the following questions: What do you see as the causes of the problem? What are the solutions that you recognize won't work? What are you feeling about the problem as you write about it? For example, are you anxious, angry, sad, etc.?

4. Write down a clear, one-line phrase that states what solution/answer you are looking for. Examples: How can I make an extra thousand dollars in next two months? How can I get my message across without upsetting my spouse? What is keeping me from moving up the ladder in my organization? How can I get my team to raise their productivity?

5. After you have written down this one-line "vital question," turn off your bedroom light, and repeat the question over and over again as you fall asleep. This is quite a boring exercise and it will help you to sleep provided you don't start thinking of more problems and more questions. If your mind wanders, go back to your question and start repeating it again.

6. If you wake up in the middle of the night, repeat your question over and over again until you fall asleep. Generally, the most vivid and longest dreams occur in the seventh or eighth hour of sleep. When you wake up with a dream, chances are that you will intuitively know it has some sort of answer for your question. When you wake up, write down your dream.

7. If you haven't got the answer yet and you are still worried about the problem, repeat the steps from 1 to 6 six the next night you go to bed.

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Copyright 1996, Mind Publications 



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