Why worry keeps coming back
The future’s on it’s way and you can’t stop thinking about it. No matter how much you try to stop you just keep thinking, turning it over and over in your mind. Whether it’s a speech, presentation or meeting, whether it’s work or social, those concerns come flooding back. It’s getting closer by the day, night, hour. No matter how much you try to ignore it, it doesn’t go away. It begs the question of why worry is so important that it can’t just be switched off.
Margaret Wehrenberg explains:
“Anxiety is an unpleasant sensation with physical components such as butterflies in the stomach, mostly felt like nausea, shortness of breath, jitteriness, or just plain old uptightness. It also comes with symptoms such as pre-occupation with the situation, and the overall emotional reaction of wanting to eliminate those sensations as soon as possible.”
The solution is to search out all the what-if’s and find a solution to the problem you’re mind’s bringing to your attention. This is what ‘worry’ is for.
It makes a future problem painful enough to demand that you balance it against other things you could be doing now. It’s a way of making you decide whether to take advantage of today’s opportunities or to prepare for the future.
If you make a decision, the worry goes away.
What if that doesn’t work?
But there’s a problem with this. What if there isn’t a future problem that’s triggered the worry-self. What if what you’re worrying about is the feeling of worry. This is why worry can become uncontrolled anxiety
“When people are anxious, particularly suffering with generalised anxiety, they feel the anxiety and then wonder why it is there. The natural assumption is that something MUST be wrong. And then their thinking brains go on a search for an explanation. Remember: if you can figure it out, anxiety goes away. However, because the anxiety is NOT caused by a real, objective problem, the what-if thinking spins without a solution. I am reminded of the symbol for “computer loading” that spins and when the computer can’t find a solution, it just keeps on spinning. The thought process of anxiety is like that. Without a solution, it keeps on searching.”
Try these steps:
There are some practical steps you can take.
- Acknowledge the worry and that it’s trying to help (this may feel a little weird at first!)
- Identify if there IS an underlying future problem that you CAN address
- If there is, decide whether you will address it or not.
- If ‘Yes’, guess what? Do whatever you’ve decided to do.
- If ‘No’, then that’s a decision too.
- You’ve done everything you’re prepared to do to address the future problem.
(This may need a little practice so do persevere to begin with)
Why worry might not respond & what to do if it doesn’t
Sometimes these practical methods aren’t enough because the ‘worry’ part of you has become too skilled and persistent. If this is the case, I suggest you look for help from a well qualified therapist. Bear in mind that you experience worry and anxiety in your own unique way, so find someone who builds therapy around you, rather than simply treating your ‘worry’ or ‘anxiety’.
Take a look around the website whilst you’re here. You might find this page useful next: Anxiety
Book a free 20-minute consultation by phone to discuss how I can help.
Source: Psychology Today