Walk Away from Worry with the Magic 5:1 Ratio {Printable}

I looked down at my wounds.

Two lines of raw skin replaced where the strap to my fancy shoes had just adorned my feet. Every time I wear those sandals, my feet spend the next week recovering. Yet I still talk myself into that stylish pair BECAUSE MY OUTFIT WILL LOOK PERFECT WITH THEM. Then – inevitably – that evening, I’m searching for my fleece-lined socks with the same desperation a castaway spans the ocean for human life.

You’d think I’d toss those fancy shoes, but instead…

A week later, I’ll examine my outfit in the mirror and think, “What if I throw on those cute white strappy sandals? A few blisters are normal…”

You see the pattern.

I haven’t learned to hold my hand up to the initial thought “what if” even though it leads to pain.  

Fashion isn’t the only place in my life I learn the hard way – I repeat this pattern with worry.

For example, when I pull the covers over my feverish kid, I think…

“But what if he doesn’t heal?” (Stop worrying, he’ll be fine…)
What if his fever lasts forever? (I can worry a little, I mean it’s normal…)
Why does he have bruises on his leg? Did he have them before the illness? (I should keep pondering this so I’m prepared for all possible scenarios.)
What if the bruises combined with the illness means he has leukemia?” (Let me google it.)
Oh my gosh, he has leukemia.
I’m. Positive.

Then my stomach twists, my brain fogs, and as he’s shaking with a fever, worry’s hijacked my body and shut out hope. For days. (For both small and big issues.)

Can you relate? Do your “what if” thoughts lead to:

Step 1: “But what if…”
Step 2: Start listing out possible bad things that can happen.
Step 3: Add more. (Just for fun.)
Step 4: Lose all rational thought.
(Nailed wallowing in worry’s pain and losing all hope.)

I don’t know what made me say enough. It wasn’t moving, my mom’s cancer, miscarriages, or job loss; instead, it was an insignificant moment like someone didn’t text me back over nothing. My brain simply felt tired of the hamster wheel of worry. Worry dominated my mind and robbed me of happiness and hope.

I needed a tool to help combat worry. In my search, I stumbled across the 5:1 ratio. Let me back up.

My child’s doctor and I were discussing parenting. I’d described a difficult stretch and she firmly stated, “Your positive interactions with your child must outweigh your negative ones.” But that thought wasn’t concrete enough for me. Happy You Happy Family has a wonderful article on the How to Connect With Your Child: the Magic 5:1 Ratio with kids. It’s based on Dr. Gottman’s relationship research that found healthy marriages have five positive exchanges for every one negative exchange.

Sweet numbers. I can wrap my head around that.

If the magic 5:1 ratio can improve our relationships with our spouse and children, it can also improve our relationship with ourselves.

Science shows that for one negative thought – we need five life-giving thoughts; proof that God created us to walk closer to hope than toxic words. You guys, we can outsmart worry.

When we think “what if,” instead of letting our mind spiral down the rabbit hole, we can stop and entertain five positive thoughts.

But for me, it has to be truth, not fluff. Only substance can convince me to let go of worry. (My worry is stubborn!) The positive thoughts must move me towards hope. Truthful hope. Extravagant Hope.

These are God’s promises to us, messages repeated in different ways throughout the Bible – real thoughts from God to you. When worry starts, I remind myself of these five truths…

1. God is for us. Always.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV)

2. We can’t fully comprehend God – and that’s a good thing. While we’re walking among the trees, God’s above looking at the whole forest.

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall, but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:28-31, NIV)

3. We don’t have to do anything to make God love us more. (Attention, perfectionists! Ahem – me!) The entirety of the gospel is based on a grace-filled love where God chooses us. We’ve asked Him to walk beside us, so be assured that He does with absolute adoration and love.

“May have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” (Ephesians 3:18, NIV)

4. God will get us where we need to be. He writes his plans for us in our hearts by giving us talents, interests, and wisdom, but often the path to the goal is not what we envisioned.

“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” (Proverbs 16:8-10, NIV)

5. God can coax good out of every hopeless situation. (Notice there aren’t promises of a perfect, easy life – rather a rich, full one.) 

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

I made a printable of these verses and placed them in my most visited spots: the mirror, the refrigerator, my purse, my car…

I made a printable of these verses and placed them in my most visited spots: the mirror, the refrigerator, my purse, my car…

Let’s quit telling ourselves that pain from worry is normal. We don’t have to let worry tarnish our precious time here on earth with sweaty palms, rapid heartbreak, and a mind that just won’t let up. We don’t have to allow that pain into our lives.

I threw away my stylish shoes to remind myself, I don’t have to choose blisters on my feet. So, wearing comfortable shoes, I can walk away from worry by hitting every negative thought with five glorious promises. 

You can too.