Why People Worry

Tree in sunset You've solved all your problems and you're just left with worries. How are you going to get out of that negative fantasy habit? There's a method that's worked for many people - Worry Time. It's easy and quite simple. First of all, though, it's worth stopping to think about why you worry.

Keeping it all under control

One reason might be that you want to be able to control what happens in your life. You have a feeling that, if you try to catch every possible thing that could go wrong, perhaps you could fix it. As we've already discussed, if it's a problem, yes, you can do something or other about it. However, if you are thinking about something that could go wrong based on something else that hasn't even happened yet - like worrying about how you'll manage to fit in the hours in your new job when you haven't even applied for a new job - then you are way outside anything that you can fix. None of us can control every unforeseen event in our future; we can only control how we react to it.

It's got to be perfect!

People often get very worried about how good something will be. Will the party you hold be magnificent? Will the present you give be wonderful? Will the report you write be exemplary? Worrying about perfection can actually hold you back from doing anything. You worry you aren't up to it - and no-one can be if it's got to be perfect... You might want to try thinking about achieving 'good enough' instead of perfect. (Remember - however perfect something is, it can always be even better!!) 'Good enough' varies depending on what you are doing. So 'good enough' brain surgery still has to be pretty amazing, while 'good enough' cooking might mean that it feeds you and it's edible although it's not Cordon Bleu. 'Good enough' to do the job in hand is what you might want to aim for.

It feels strange not to worry

Another reason you might worry is that you are uncomfortable if things are going too well. "Uh oh" you might say to yourself, "I feel strangely relaxed. That can't be right!" And so you find a reason to worry to relieve the uncomfortable feeling. Using relaxation techniques will help you become familiar with the sensation of feeling good and, as you get more used to it, you'll be able to enjoy the feeling for longer and find less need to worry. We'll come back again to this in Soothe Your Feelings.

It's unlucky not to worry

You may think you are courting disaster by not worrying. It feels like bad luck will come if you stop worrying. This is strongly related to the negative thinking we talked about earlier. The truth is that bad and good luck come to everyone whether they worry or not. Remember - 'lucky' people just have a more optimistic outlook. If worrying to prevent misfortune is a technique you believe in strongly, you'll be able to test out your belief when you try Advanced Worry Time.

Worrying is what my family does

A final reason you might keep worrying is that you have always done it. You may have been brought up by parents or carers who also worried and so it feels like the normal and proper way to behave. Knowing this, you can change what you do. After all, you probably don't do everything else in exactly the same way your parents did. It doesn't mean you care less. In fact, you'll be able to function better in an emergency if you haven't worn yourself out by worrying!

Perhaps you have found another reason you worry. If so, please do let me know! Whatever the reason, you can check whether worrying is actually a useful habit that actually helps you deal with random negative events. Most people discover that the exhaustion caused by worrying actually reduces their ability to deal with whatever event eventually crops up. Keeping in a positive, problem-solving frame of mind creates energy to deal with the unexpected.

Finally, remember - you can always put the worry you have on the Cheery-o-meter. Even if it happens, is it that bad?

Inside Out

Coming up next, a relaxation technique to help you stay in the present. It's based on a technique is called mindfulness meditation and it's ideal for dealing with unwanted worries. It lasts for about 8 minutes.