“Why worry” worry gets you nowhere at all”. The lyrics of this old 1950s song are indisputably true. Worry solves nothing. Yet we still continue to do it. If governments could tax it, as they do alcohol and tobacco, their fiscal problems would disappear overnight.
Worry is also a cause of health problems. It releases stress hormones such as cortisol. These boost blood sugar levels bringing on several physical reactions including dizziness, fast heartbeat, fatigue, muscle tension and shortness of breath to mention but a few. Worry doesn’t solve anything and can make you ill, so why do we do it?
Worry doesn’t solve anything and can make you ill, so why do we do it?
It’s a habit from our childhood. We often felt threatened. On many occasions we didn’t know what to say, think or do. We were afraid, we were anxious, and we worried. It had a soothing affect not unlike thumb sucking and equally productive. Bad habits are not easy to stop, as we all know. Trying to take it on as a will power exercise will be self-defeating and we will end up worrying about the fact that we can’t stop worrying. The most effective way to erase the behaviour is use a diversity of strategies. Pragmatic, rational emotive and awareness.
The pragmatic approach focuses on the fact that worry is a result of fear. It makes sense to focus on the underlying fear to assess its reality. We often find that the cause of our worry is so trivial it doesn’t merit worry. No fear ~ no worry. We can also confront the fear. Get it sorted and get on with life. Sometimes we will find the fear is self-centred. We are afraid of our own self-criticism. Ego bashing fear is extremely common. If we unconditionally accept our humanity with all its failures, we will end up worrying a lot less. Fears outside our control including what others think about us, the price of petrol, the rail strike, Brexit, etc, etc, shouldn’t ever, under any circumstances qualify as worrying material. Acknowledge our limitations and accept whatever the outcome. Much, much less useless worry.
The second strategy is the rational emotive strand. In the first instance acknowledge the truth of its futility and wastefulness. Next get emotionally involved. Feel anger and frustration when you think of all the time you have wasted, the opportunities you have missed, as a result of misplaced worry. Really feel that worry is an absolute waste of energy. Over time such concentrated distaste will lessen the worry fixation.
The third and most important strategy is awareness. How do we deal with worry when in fact we don’t know we are worrying? Worry is mind stuff. Being in the NOW is the antidote. Fears are faced up to and problems are solved ONLY in the NOW. Worry is always somewhere else. Become aware of your body and you are in the NOW. Clench your right hand, feel the tension and the touch of your nails against your skin. Clench tighter and then slowly relax. Clench again and relax. Be aware of the physical sensations. Don’t conceptualize, just be conscious. Be aware that you are. Just be.
How do we deal with worry when in fact we don’t know we are worrying?
TONY DOWNEY M.Ed.,Dip Spec.Ed. DASE.
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