Most of us get the occasional stomach-churning bout of worry but just because we all get butterflies doesn’t mean worrying is a healthy habit - it isn’t! When you worry, you are living in a future world that may not ever happen. Also, just because you don’t know a future outcome it doesn’t mean it’s going to be negative.
Worry can motivate you to do things like warning your children not to talk to strangers or double-checking directions to get somewhere- these reactions are pretty normal. Worry only becomes ineffective when, for example, you are still contemplating getting lost even though you have mapped out your route and printed out the directions. In other words you have taken steps to insure a positive outcome yet you still spend time and energy on expecting a negative result.
There are ways to reduce how much you worry about things. It takes practice but what it boils down to is changing how you think about the world and really believing that tomorrow is going to bring something great not something awful.
Here are a few of the most common ways in which we worry along with simple advice to help put worry behind you.
1. Seeking constant reassurance
There is no harm in getting a second opinion about something but asking for it repeatedly is not useful. This is because it’s easy to second-guess any answer you get especially if you doubt yourself to begin with. For example you are worried that your partner no longer finds you attractive so you ask them. They reply (hopefully!!) “Of course I find you attractive” but you’re not convinced so you ask them again…and again…and again…
No reply they give provides you with the absolute certainty you need; at this point you need to stop and ask yourself why you are not taking the answer at face value. Are you hoping to validate your fears? At the end of the day the answer you have been given is the only one you are going to get so accept it then take steps that will help you believe in yourself – without having to rely on feedback from others.
ACCEPT WHAT YOU CAN’T CONTROL, AND WORK ON WHAT YOU CAN…..
2. Ignoring your worries
Maybe you fear losing your partner? When the thought pops up, you put it right out of your mind. By not allowing yourself to think about this fear for even a second you think you are not worrying about it. In reality what you are actually doing is reinforcing your fear by not facing it….
Repeat to yourself “It is always possible that I may lose my partner”; your anxiety levels will shoot up at first but, after a few minutes, you will calm down as the thought loses its power. By doing this you will discover that because you are thinking about the worst-case scenario it doesn’t necessarily mean it will happen.
ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR FEARS AND YOU WILL REDUCE THEIR POWER….
3. Arming yourself with irrelevant information
It’s a good idea to gather as much information as you can about something that is bothering you but the value of it depends on the type of information you have collected. For example, if you are worried about flying and you search “plane crashes" on Google then you will find lots of information about terrible accidents. But what if you looked for “safe plane landings” instead? It is called Confirmation Bias – wanting to prove your fear is real and then finding information that confirms it. You need to ask yourself “Am I collecting useful information or am I just confirming my fear?”
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