worry flashcards: the best thing I’ve ever done.

Alright. I’m just gonna say it. This is THE most helpful thing I have ever written. In my personal opinion this beats feisty me, reflective me, and kicks pretty me outta the water.

I will preface this by admitting I’ve had no less than three meltdowns since my two previous bad moods (bad mood one and two). This cloud has lasted through most of this whole dang week. Though not productive in some ways, I am so thankful that I have MML to share what I learn along the way.

I invented Worry Flashcards yesterday morning, right after my third meltdown. A handful of the stressful situations this week had reached resolutions – positive resolutions – but my frayed nerves were still raw and the emotions were still high and skewing negative. Even with the good turn of events, I found myself reeling and processing what happened this week. My brain and emotions couldn’t keep up with one another and it all combined into one humongous knot of uncertainty, confusion, and worry.

So here it goes, the best thing I’ve ever shared on MML:

Okay, so the name doesn’t sound super inspiring, but the activity is certainly powerful. As I mentioned above, I was unable to process and feel any amount of clarity after several situations were cleared up. So I wrote down all of my worries on flashcards (obviously, any paper will do). I’ve made an example sample set (note: these are not my personal worries) of worries to explain the process. That big pile of worries pretty much mirrored how frazzled my brain felt yesterday morning. No clarity, order, or understanding going on at all.

After I listed my worries, I separated them into different categories. Feel free to make your own custom categories. I chose Personal, Relationships, Career, and Finance for this example.

Then I looked at each category one at a time. I determined whether each worry was Out of My Control, In My Control, or just Not True anymore (some of my old worries that got resolved were no longer true, but still bothering me as if they were true).

Here’s what the rest of the categories could look like:

For each worry that was Out of My Control, I wrote a wish on the back of the card stating the outcome I desired in that situation. I then wished the situations the best and moved on to the next step.

For each item in the Not True line, I stated why that worry wasn’t valid any longer on the back of the card.

This left me with just the concerns that I could actually DO something about. On the back of these cards I wrote the first step I could take to resolve each worry.

Then I put them in order, so that I could look at each concern one at a time and start making change. I felt focused on each specific, first-step I needed to help me resolve the situations I could control. I also didn’t feel like I was forgetting anything. I knew it was all there in the flashcards; documented and ready for action when the time was right.

My personal experience with Worry Flashcards

Though I won’t go into any detail about my worries specifically, I will say:

  • I had 17 worry flashcards.
  • 3 were Out of My Control
  • 4 were Not True
  • 10 were In My Control
  • 6 worries In My Control were solved with the same action! And believe it or not, I had no idea that was the case before I made my worry cards.

I hope you find this exercise as enlightening as I do. And of course, I hope that the next time you are about to have a melt down, you try some worry cards and see if that helps you find more clarity and order in the chaos.

Side Note: awesome post about worry vs. concern over at White Hot Truth yesterday.

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  1. CB

    Excellent exercise! Sometimes it is too overwhelming to process tons of thoughts swirling around, so writing them down is a great way to get them out of your head. I like how you put the worries on flashcards – what a great way to make them more tangible so you could categorize, organize, and find solutions (or make peace within yourself when you sent a wish instead).

  2. CB

    P.S. I am trying this next time I have a meltdown – I’ll let you know how it goes!

  3. Niki

    I’m doing this this on Monday night when I finally have some time to myself. GREAT IDEA

  4. April

    This is an amazing exercise….thanks for sharing. I believe that the biggest thing you can do to increase your happiness and success is to separate what you can’t control from what you can control, and take actionable steps to do something to change the things that you can control.

  5. I’m actually contemplating stopping what I’m doing at work to do this right now. *Sigh* Just too many balls to juggle and not sure how I can hold them for much longer.

    Thank you for sharing this.

  6. Kelsey

    I don’t know what your eating/weight plan is but it might be fun to do a Weight Watchers MML group? Share our dinner plans and how we’re keeping ourselves accountable.

    Good luck and remember you are awesome!

  7. I think this is a great idea, and just may try that.. I love making lists of all kinds anyways! I really love is that you didn’t just stop at writing them down, the fact that you put into not true, in your control and not are great.. You should be proud of yourself!

  8. Smash

    Wow, this is a fantastic idea! I think I’ll try this soon… but maybe with just one category to start. Thank you so much for posting this.

  9. chicspace


    Uh….publish this somehow and sell them on your site. Certainly they’re easy enough to DIY…but…imagine a set of 3x5s or smaller that you could carry around (actually make them a playing deck with waxed surfaces and a wipeoff pen).

  10. Marie

    This could not have been posted at a better time! Lately I have been so overwhelmed, exhausted, cranky, negative…There has been so much going on in every aspect that it’s become a lot to process. I think I’ll go have a good night’s sleep and make some of my own worry cards tomorrow. xo

  11. This is absolutely amazing. I love, love, love lists as a way to sort my worries but I think that this is better. Actually manipulating a physical representation of your thoughts is so much easier than just looking at list of things that are on your mind. You are BRILLIANT!

  12. This is such a good idea. I am always so inspired by your advice/ideas and this exercise coincides so much with my current situation. Thank you for posting!

  13. Carol

    I’ll call them ‘Flash Cards for Clarity,’ as that’s what they say to me. A great way to dust off ideas that need revisiting, or problems that need to see the light of day from a fresh perspective. As I’m a right-brained, visually oriented person, this idea just rocks!

  14. Fantastic post, Jess. I like the idea of categorizing and then setting realistic goals with giving things a try. So thoughtful and I will definitely be using this idea. xx, Rebecca

  15. Debbie

    I love this idea! Thanks for sharing it. I will definitely try it.


  16. Ashelle

    Wow, how insightful. I love your blog, I just came across it today and I love the positivity that radiates from it, someday soon I hope to be featured on DIY Design your life, but in the meanwhile I’m putting things in place and living my best life now.

  17. This is an incredibly inspiring post. I have been known to worry way too often about the things in my life that seem uncontrollable. Even if there isn’t anything major for me to worry about, my crazy brain will find something! I am definitely going to try this exercise in the future. Thank you so much!

  18. Brooke

    I think this is genius!!!! I’m a serious worrier. Reading your post made me think of myself over and over again getting completely overwhelmed and having trouble shaking the “dark cloud”. Genius!

  19. Alice

    Hello Jess,
    Thank you for sharing this. Lately I’ve been feeling anxious and panicky, so I did this exercise today, and I feel much more peaceful actually knowing what I can’t control and what isn’t true anymore. I can finally let go and move on, and concentrate on what I can change. I was pleasantly surprised by the results!
    I love reading your blog, even though I’ve never commented before. I will definitely do this exercise again, as it really helped me to put things in perspective and take positive actions!
    Thank you!

  20. Joanna

    This is brilliant! Next time I feel a meltdown coming on, I’ll be sure to do this. And I’ll be sure to share it with friends too.

  21. Juliet

    Love!!! I am really curious and a little scared to try this… and kinda excited.

  22. kamarichelsea

    I love this idea! Right on time. Thank you Jess!

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