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THE END OF WORRY Excerpt

THE END OF WORRY Excerpt

Are you a hopeless worrywart? You needn’t be.

The ancient Chinese were right: “Worry is a MIS-use of the imagination.” This book is about extinguishing the bad habit of worrying and replacing it with a new habit – namely, the proper use of your imagination. That shift will not only end your worrying, forever. It will also transform you. Liberate you. And open a vast plane of options and opportunities for you, in ways you cannot possibly imagine. Not yet, anyway….

This isn’t magic – even if, for many people, it seems that way. It takes a bit of time, a few weeks at most. And it takes a bit of work. So, if you’re not willing to work a little to gain a lot, best to put this book down and walk away.

This book is for the motivated. For the ones who realize what a time-glutton worrying is. How it devours days, weeks, years of your life. This book is for the ones who wish to put all that time to better use. The ones who haven’t given up on true happiness.

My hope is this book is for you.

***

As I said, worrying is a habit – a bad habit. No one is born to worry; it is not some indelible character trait. In fact, there are entire societies that do not even know what worrying is.

The worrying habit was likely instilled in you, unconsciously, by your parents, your culture, and/or your environment. But habits can be broken. And the Worry Protocol is one surefire way to break the worry habit and replace it with patterns and processes that enable you to thrive with clarity, control and creativity.

The Worry Protocol is based on well-established principles of neuroplasticity, Pavlovian conditioning and neurolinguistic programming (NLP). In my practice, I have witnessed it change the lives of countless patients – many of whom, initially, felt helpless and accursed. Yet, within a few weeks of applying the Worry Protocol, their lives changed dramatically for the better, permanently.

Here are two case histories that illustrate many of the enduring benefits my patients have enjoyed as a result of their dedication to the Worry Protocol:

Louis’s Story

Louis is a 64-year-old ex-CFO with intermittent atrial fibrillation (a heart arrhythmia). His chief complaint is, “I worry too much, and my worry manifests physically.” 

NOTE: Louis is the worst worrier I have ever encountered in my practice. And for good reason. During the decades of Louis’s business career, he was tasked with foreseeing whatever financial catastrophes might befall his company, planning for those catastrophes and implementing his plans should such catastrophes arise – as, at times, they did. When his contingency plans worked out favorably for the company, Louis was generously rewarded with large bonus payments. Thus, Louis’s imagined negative scenarios were continually rewarded, to the point where his worrying soon became a well-reinforced, deeply ingrained habit.

One day, early in Louis’s retirement, he notices a small wet spot on his driveway. It hasn’t rained; the sprinklers are not directed to that spot. Where is the moisture coming from? Each day the spot grows larger and larger, until it becomes obvious there is some kind of water leak under the driveway. Louis hasn’t planned for this. He is distressed and disconcerted. Yet, he manages his way through, hiring a plumber and concrete company. Within a short time, the ruptured pipe is repaired and new concrete laid down. 

You would think that would be the end of the story. But remember, Louis is a world-class worrier. He worries the plumber has made a mistake and the leak will recur. He worries he will have to bust up the new concrete and, again, have the pipe repaired. He worries to the extent that every day, for over 100 days, he walks out and touches the driveway, checking for moisture, though there is none. He worries to the extent that he sets aside $7500, in the event his worries come true, which they do not. He worries to the extent his heart jumps and pumps irregularly. He worries day and night, until finally his wife declares: “Louis, you’re sick. You need to get some help!”

Louis sees me in my office where I teach him the Worry Protocol. “I have only one misgiving, Louis,” I confess. “What’s that, Doc?” “I’m concerned that this Worry Protocol, with its four simple steps, will seem too easy to be effective. And so, you won’t do it. Which means we will both have wasted our time here.” “Doc,” Louis reassures me, “I promise I’ll work the Worry Protocol each and every time I catch myself worrying. Just as you’ve instructed. Don’t you worry.”

In the first week, Louis catches himself worrying and runs through the Protocol at least six or eight times a day. “It was a bit disruptive,” he admits. Same for the second week, at which point his atrial fibrillation disappears (never to return). Soon, his worrying begins to diminish in frequency; he resorts to the Worry Protocol less and less often. Finally, come the tenth week (far longer than most people require), he hardly resorts to it at all. 

“I’m a different person, Doc,” Louis declares proudly. “How do you mean?” I ask. “Well, let me tell you what happened last week. I was reading my morning paper and drinking my coffee when my wife burst in, her face white chalk, and exclaimed: 

‘Louis, something terrible has happened!’ 

Alarmed, I asked ‘What?’ 

‘Michael,’ she said (their 26- year-old son) ‘has just totaled our brand-new Mercedes!’ 

‘Is he okay?’ 

‘Yes, he’s fine. He is heading home now.’ 

‘And is the other driver okay?’ I continued. 

‘Yes, fortunately no one was hurt. And their car was barely dented.’ 

‘Hmmm…,’ I mused. ‘And have you paid our insurance?’ 

‘Yes, Louis,’ she scowled, ‘I have paid our insurance.’ 

‘Then, Babe,’ I offered, ‘why don’t you just sit down till Michael gets home? Have some coffee with me, and when he arrives we’ll get the details and call the insurance company? No one was hurt. We’ll get a new car. Let’s just count our blessings and relax.’

‘Count our blessings and relax,’ she hissed. ‘Louis, that’s not you!’

“At this point I paused,” Louis says. “I knew what she meant. I had changed.”

‘Well, darling,’ I said, ‘It’s the new me. So, you best get used to it!’

Laura’s Story

Laura is a 44-year-old attorney, who states she “worries night and day.” She has serious trouble sleeping, and completing her legal tasks: “At work, I take longer than anyone else, because I keep interrupting myself with worries.”

She has enrolled in my 3-day course, which includes the Worry Protocol, and can’t wait to begin using this so-called “magic pattern.” 

As usual, I admonish the class not to be deceived by the simplicity of the Worry Protocol. “The simplest things,” I say, “can often be the most powerful.” To which she replies, “I don’t care if it’s simple or hard. If it can stop my worrying, I’ll be forever grateful!”

It is the final day of the course. Laura engages with her partner, and they both learn and administer the Worry Protocol. Thereafter, I hear nothing from Laura for three weeks. Then, comes this text: 

“Dr. Bierman. I have to tell you, this Worry Protocol has totally changed my life. I can’t believe it. I really thought worrying was something I was born with and had to live with. I’ve done it exactly as you prescribed: every time I catch myself worrying, I run the Protocol. And guess what? I’m not worrying anymore. I CAN’T EVEN WORRY ABOUT NOT WORRYING!! And I’m sleeping like a bear in the winter. Thank you so much!”

Not everyone is as aware as Louis and Laura are of the changes produced by the Worry Protocol. For some, the transition is so smooth and gradual that they merge into their new selves with quiet equanimity. But for virtually everyone, the transition from habitual worrying to a worry-free life brings additional benefits, among which is a delightful sense of liberation and unflappability.

So, get ready. Good things lie ahead.

***