Anxiety Relief: Working the Worry Habit

anxiety relief

‘Anxiousness’, ‘negative thoughts that bring concern’, ‘negative believing’ are all definitions of the word “worry”. All this negative self talk just makes us anxious and stressed and raises our cortisol levels. Worry actually is damaging to our health, our overall well-being and our capacity to manifest both the good things and feelings of joy we want in life. There is a saying, “the thing that I feared has come upon me”.

We don’t ‘fear’ that good things will happen. Good things bring excitement and anticipation and joy. We would find it odd to invite friends over to celebrate at a ‘worry party’! But the list of well-wishers for a victory celebration could be endless.

Worrying is something that can waste a lot of time and energy in your life, and it never seems to help the situation. When we worry, we simply are assuming something bad will happen. We are preparing to be upset by an event or misdemeanour in the future and we spend time evaluating the sequence of events that will bring this catastrophe upon us. Most of these things about which we worry never occur and that is a huge letdown for some people. Worry has become a habitual and unconscious behaviour for people, almost as if it is a badge of honour. It is like sitting in a rocking chair; lots of energy taken up moving back and forth, but takes you nowhere!

We have had sad and bad situations happen in our lives and someone commented that I didn’t seem overly concerned about these events. I think there are two ways to look at situations. There are things I can control and things I can’t control. If I can’t do anything about it, then I need to let it go and not ‘worry’ about it. What will be will be. I’ve come to understand this: Worry is only useful as a temporary thought if I can use it to improve or negate the situation.  

Sometimes I ask myself if I am justifying my own lack of worrying. Does worrying prove I really care about someone? Should I be worrying about my grandkids in today’s world? Will they think I don’t care if I am not ‘worried’ about them? While this may justify to some people the need to worry, on a deeper level I’ve realized worrying doesn’t tell them I love them. Rather my actions of love and time spent with them teaching them value systems and skills and self-confidence in situations that they may find themselves in speaks far louder than saying, ‘I was worried about you’. I prefer to give them a phone call and say, “I was thinking about you and wondered how you are going–just wanted to say that you are special!”.

I believe everyone knows worrying doesn’t really have any benefit and actually makes things worse because we become a liability instead of an asset in a situation. So why do we do it if it is a useless pastime?

First, we mirror our parents, and then others in a position of influence in our lives. Many have preached doom and gloom and created for us a “worry culture” about ‘what will we do when….’. I remember when a very wealthy friend of ours was criticized for allowing his children to go water skiing. People condemned him for allowing his children to use so much gas for such a useless activity. He replied, “When the world runs out of gas, we will find something else to take its place–something that hasn’t even been invented yet”.

There is a difference between worry and concern. Yes, we should be concerned and aware about the world around us, but worrying about any of these things doesn’t erase the situation, or make it better, or help us deal with the challenge in a constructive way.

I have heard it said by a worrier that, ‘We worry that if we stop worrying, something really bad will happen’. Crazy as it may seem, by continuing to worry, somehow, we think we are protecting ourselves. In reality, when we worry we’re just setting ourselves up for more stress and fear and then more worry about our additional stress and fear.

In today’s world, worrying can be acknowledged as being ‘human’. It is important that we don’t judge ourselves or condemn ourselves if we have been a worrier. When and if it shows up and we are tempted to be like everyone else and worry, we simply can acknowledge our worry has no positive benefit, acknowledge it can be quite damaging to our well-being and success, and acknowledge it can steal our joy and fulfilment in life.  Realizing that worrying has no positive outcome gives us the opportunity to search for what programming is being challenged within us. With this new understanding from our heart, we can transform our worry and use it as a mechanism for positive growth.

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