Worry invades my mind to warn me of threats headed my way throughout this thing we call Life. I feel justified in my panic. The knot in my stomach is a good thing. It proves I’m thinking of the future and what it means. Worrying is the right thing to do because it means I care. I’m a good person damn it!
Why We Worry
Worrying is just like fear, curiosity, and our ability to form judgments. It’s hard-wired in us. Worrying makes us human. It played its role in helping mankind survive by contributing to our decision-making process.
Planning ahead allows us to recognize danger headed our way. Worrying then spurs us into action, either to prevent or soften the blow if/when the threat becomes imminent.
Let’s say, for example, you’re worried about losing your job. You’ll probably step up your game — or at the very least, update your resume and check out who’s hiring. Worrying in this regard is totally natural. The problem arises if you let your worries linger without taking any action.
Worrying isn’t Bad, We Make it Bad
Worry itself is a messenger sent from your body and mind to warn you of potential threats. That’s it. It’s not psychic. It doesn’t know what’s actually going to happen, it’s showing you what could happen if things continue in the same direction.
Your job is to consider what Worry is telling you. Is the threat viable? Is it a threat or insecurity? If it is a threat, can you change the outcome?
When you don’t do your job, Anxiety shows up. Anxiety is a whole other messenger, with a whole different attitude. But this article is about Worry. Anxiety requires an article itself.
Worries are Thoughts
The most important aspect is noticing the difference between thoughts and facts. Our minds are compelling, and sometimes it can be tricky to differentiate between the two.
Dr. Marina Harris came up with a brilliant analogy of thinking about your worried and Anxious Thoughts Like Internet Pop-Up Ads in your brain. The same way a pop-up interrupts our scrolling, worry and anxiety often have the same effect on our days. The best thing you can do is acknowledge what it is — a thought. Worries aren’t facts, but that doesn’t mean you ignore it or shove it aside.
The whole point is to differentiate between whether it’s actually worth worrying about.
When Worrying Becomes a Problem
On the one hand, allowing Worry to run your life doesn’t lead to a happy ending. Too much of anything is a bad thing, even happiness. On the other hand, you can’t bury it either.
Ignoring any of your emotions is not a solution — it’s postponement. Burying your worry doesn’t help anyone, it only increases its severity when it resurfaces later.
Above I said Worry is a messenger sent by your subconscious to convey a message. Well, shutting the door in its face isn’t going to make it go away. It’ll just start yelling louder and bang on the door until you finally let it in. By that point, the entire situation is elevated.
So What Can You Do?
Your job — ask questions.
Is the threat viable?
The act of worrying creates a physical response to prepare you against an oncoming threat. Technically it can happen for anything from what you’ll have for dinner to potential armageddon. How imminent is your worry?
Is it a threat or an Insecurity?
A threat is when something has the potential to negatively impact your survival or well being. For example, being in a toxic relationship is a threat to your mental, and possibly physical, health.
Insecurity revolves more around your social status and internal beliefs. For example, if you think you’re being funny and someone says you’re not, your insecurity may feel like your sense of self is being threatened. These are great moments for self-reflection.
Can you change the outcome?
My dad used to always say, worrying is like a rocking chair — it gives you something to do but you aren’t going anywhere. When there’s nothing you can do to help or prevent your worry then what do you have control over? Find a different outlet for your energy, or make peace with the fact there’s nothing you can do.
Question yourself constantly. Is there anything you can do to prevent your worries from becoming reality? If so, go for it. But if not, then you need to trust yourself that you can overcome whatever is thrown your way.
Worrying about everything all the time doesn’t actually fix anything. You’re training your mind to focus only on the negatives and by doing so, you’re rewiring your brain to live in fear. Take back your control. You deserve to breathe again.
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