Book offers advice on avoiding worry

“AdaptAbility” by M.J. Ryan, c. 2009, Broadway Books, $18.99, 227 pages.

You woke up at 3:42 this morning, but what are you gonna do?

Every day, you deal with mandatory furloughs, bank accounts heading toward minus, homeowner woes and high prices against low paychecks. So when it’s time to turn in for the night, you can’t shut your brain off and you know you simply cannot handle this any more. You’re done.

You didn’t ask for this stress, but you’ve got it. So why not get some help dealing with it? Pick up “AdaptAbility” by M.J. Ryan, and get some smart advice about resilience.

Once upon a time, Ryan had everything she wanted. She was the owner of an up-and-coming book publishing company with a bestseller on its roster. She was happily married and life was good. Then, one by one, everything fell away and Ryan was faced with change she didn’t see coming and didn’t want.

Between then and the time she built a flourishing new career as a consultant and coach, she learned a lot about change and how to deal with it.

First of all, change is perhaps the only thing you can count on in life. Good or bad, nothing stays the same and it’s not “all about you.” When faced with monumental change, you’ll go through the classic stages of grief, but you also learn that you’re more resilient than you think. In fact, change is not your enemy, but fear is – and in the end, your “youness” is what pulls you through.

One of the first things you’ll do when change hits you – and it’s natural – is to worry yourself half to death. Ryan advises you to put the brakes on obsessing about everything all the time. Instead, give yourself 15 minutes a day to worry. Knock yourself out wringing your hands during that time, then accept what’s happened, stop “milling” and move forward.

Still having trouble? Ryan says to find gratitude and look for good luck in your predicament. Try to see small gifts in your loss. Complain, but not forever. Get your Three C’s in place (Challenge, Control and Commitment). Stop being stoic and ask for help. And understand that temporarily taking an undesirable opportunity to “get by” is OK and won’t last forever.

Been to the self-help section of your library or bookstore lately? So many of the books there are happy-happy Pollyanna-ish tomes that wind up being of little help. Then, along comes a book like “AdaptAbility.”

Ryan uses her own story and those of her clients to illustrate how changing a few mind-sets can help you deal with “change you didn’t ask for.” While some of the exercises seem simplistic and a few are downright goofy, even the most down-in-the-dumps reader can take a stab at the things that Ryan gently suggests to shake the badness that can come with unwelcome change.

If you’re drowning in worry, stop treading water and read this book. “AdaptAbility” may just be the lifeline you need.

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Terri has been reading since she was 3 years old and never goes anywhere without a book. She lives in West Salem, Wis., with her two dogs and 9,500 books.

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