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CALM: The proven four-step process to transform worry into inner peace

By Denise Marek, NLOWE's 2019 Conference Opening Plenary Speaker

It was 11 am and we had just arrived in Orlando. Our hotel room wasn’t going to be available for another five hours, so I asked my then 12-year-old daughter, Lindsay, if she wanted to spend the afternoon at the Magic Kingdom. Lindsay replied, “I don’t want to go today because I have a book.”

I could hardly believe what I had just heard. My daughter would rather read than go to a theme park. Proudly, I turned to her dad and asked, “Did you hear what Lindsay just said? She doesn’t want to go to the Magic Kingdom today because she has a book to read.”

Before I had the chance to continue feeling so good about my incredible parenting skills, Lindsay interjected, “No, Mom. I didn’t say I have a book to read. I just said I have a book. I don’t want to carry this thing around with me all afternoon!”

In that moment, I realized just how easy it is to make assumptions and jump to conclusions. Sometimes our assumptions may be funny. At other times, they create a massive amount of worry. The assumptions that cause you to worry often begin as “what if” questions:

What if I don’t have enough money?
What if I try and don’t succeed?
What if I get rejected?

Any time you answer your own “what if” question with a negative assumption, worry can set in. That’s why the first step in the CALM process is so crucial.

Step One:

C = Challenge Your Assumptions

Negative assumptions create unnecessary worry. One way to challenge your assumptions is to reframe the question from possibility to probability. In other words, ask yourself, “Is it likely that what I’m worried about will happen?” This new question will help you to gain a better perspective.

Step Two:

A = Act to Control the Controllable

Take action to control the things you can. Come up with a list of possible actions that your worries might be prompting you to take. Capture all your ideas in writing and follow through on your plan!

Step Three:

L = Let Go of the Uncontrollable

After you’ve done all you can to “control the controllable,” you’ve got to let go. In my online course CALM Online, and in my book CALM: A Proven Four-Step Process Designed Specifically for Women Who Worry, I provide numerous strategies to let go of the uncontrollable. One of those strategies is to extend kindness to others.

Why? Acts of kindness cause your brain to increase the production of serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that can help reduce depression and make you feel euphoric. How does this increase in serotonin help you to let go of worry? Try feeling euphoric and worried at the same time. It’s virtually impossible!

Step Four:

M = Master Your Mind

This step is important because it’s your inner dialogue that largely dictates whether you feel worried or calm. One strategy to master your mind is to end “what-if” thinking. To do so, follow these three steps:

  1. Ask yourself, “What is?”

  2. Ask yourself, “Will it matter a year from now?”

  3. Affirm, “I’ll handle it!”

The next time you are worried—about money, your business, or everything in between—remind yourself to CALM and follow each of the four steps. It will help you to transform worry into inner peace.


Denise Marek is internationally known as The Worry Management Expert. She is regularly called upon as the expert in her field by such national and international magazines as:

  • Canada’s Investment Executive, Chloe, Chatelaine, and Canadian Family

  • USA’s Body + Soul and Woman’s World Magazine

  • United Kingdom’s Red

  • Australia’s CLEO and Insight

Denise is the author of CALM - A Proven Four Step Process Designed Specifically for Women Who Worry and co-author of The Keys: Open the Door to True Empowerment and Infinite Possibilities. As

a testament to their overwhelming success, Denise’s books have been published in several

languages including Spanish, Italian, German, French, Dutch, Bulgarian, Korean, among others.

Through her proprietary CALM™ methodology, lectures, consulting, videos, articles, and books, Denise has helped individuals and corporations worldwide eliminate worry and systematically create positive and lasting changes in attitudes, actions, teamwork, communication, and relationships.

Denise was awarded the Toastmasters International Accredited Speaker Award for Professionalism and Outstanding Achievements in Public Speaking. Not only was Denise the first woman in Ontario to have received this honour, she is one of only 67 people to have ever achieved this designation.

Denise’s client base is eclectic — anything from CEOs, senior management teams, and executives to First Nations, government agencies, school boards and more. Companies making use of Denise’s unique spin on positive change and stress management include: American Express, Toyota, CEO Global Network, RBC Royal Bank, Deloitte and Touche, Dundee, Manulife Financial, TD Canada Trust, Clarica, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, and AIG. Denise is hired to speak at corporate events and to provide on-site training and consulting. Denise’s clients credit her program for more effective and efficient work environments, less stress, and greater strategic planning success.

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