If you read the definition of the word, it says things like troubled. Anxious.
A state of mind that can lead to being fearful.
It can also be describing a behavior. Persistent messing with something. Like worrying with a sweater that’s too tight. Or constantly stirring something on the stove, when it needs to simmer.
There are a lot of people who spend a lot of time doing it. Sitting and worrying. Driving and worrying. Working and worrying.
“What is going to happen to my kids? What if I get sick?”
“How am I going to take care of myself when I get older?”
We all ask these questions from time to time. Non-worriers don’t focus on them.
When we hear about something traumatic or unexpected that occurs in someone else’s life? A diagnosis of cancer. A child’s accident. Some will quickly try to find the reason why that would never happen to them.
“I don’t smoke.” “I always wear my seatbelt.” “I never have babysitters that I don’t know well.” “I watch my kids like a hawk.”
Of course, that’s not entirely rational. But it’s a way to try and protect yourself.
Worriers will hear about a tragedy and obsess about it happening to them. Or someone they love.
They will use what’s called “catastrophic thinking.” Imagine the worst scenario that can possibly happen. Play it out. Sometimes even actually visualize it occurring. At its worst, it can develop into panic attacks. Nightmares. Medical problems related to severe anxiety.
A worrier can work feverishly to erect an imagined fortress around themselves and their children, while seeing potential enemies all around them. They believe their worry is keeping them and who they love safe. That the worry is productive.
[tweetthis]Worry can invade your life and suffocate it. Unless you feel what you fear.[/tweetthis]
WebMD has an excellent article on how to stop irrational worry. 9 really great steps that are a combination of mental, physical and emotional changes. Megsanity writes a raucous and very informative blog about coping with anxiety.
Wonderful ideas. Things I also suggest that people do.
Three I particularly like.
Write down, every day for 10-15 minutes, everything you are worried about. From the small to the more serious. Don’t answer your phone. Don’t watch TV. For that 15 minutes, all you are doing is worrying. Then when you close the journal, try to control your mind to not go to those worries. Say instead, “I will write about that tomorrow.” Or jot down the new worry so that you won’t forget to write about it.
Some worry can be productive. It can lead to finding solutions to real problems. A lot, when written down, either get repetitive or boring to write about. Seeing them in black and white helps you see that you are “catastrophizing” – being irrational.
If a worry has merit, then do something about it.
2) Get at the feelings underneath the worry.
“What would you be feeling if you weren’t worried?” Afraid. Angry. Nervous. Sad. The worry gives you something to do – except feel. It helps you avoid feeling anything.
When asked, “How do you feel?”, people will reply, “I’m worried.”
Worry is not a feeling. It’s a mental state. It’s your brain on a treadmill.
Expressing those underlying feelings can be cathartic. Scream. Shout. Cry. Admit not avoid. Breathe deeply.
You can find out you can work through the feelings better than you expected.
3) Remind yourself of what you have handled thus far. That you are resilient.
All of us have handled some kind of disappointment. Some accident. We have worked through mistakes either that we have made, or something that has happened to us.
You have competence that you may be forgetting you have.
We cannot know what will happen in the next moment. To us or those we love. We can do our best to take care. To avoid blatant problems.
Attentiveness comes in handy. Or “anticipatory thinking.”
What is anticipatory thinking? Thinking ahead of what might happen positively. Or negatively. Natural outcomes or consequences. What you would do if those things occur. Having a plan of action.
Worriers skip the possible positive. Go straight to the negative. When the positive is just as viable.
Know you will get through. Find your resilience. Trust it. Help your children find their own.
And live life.
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