ARE YOU LETTING WORRY DICTATE YOUR LIFE?
The ability to think far into the future is a unique ability us humans possess. Not only is it critical for our well-being but it helps us to make plans and motivate us to behave in ways today that will lead to desired outcomes later on. However, this ability runs amok when we get hung up on looking to the future with negative thoughts allowing worry to feed our anxieties about what “might” happen tomorrow, next week, next year, and in a lot of cases, never. Not only is this unhealthy, it also robs our peace of mind and stands in the way of appreciating the joys of life as they unfold right before us in the present. So, if you tend to be known as a “Worrywart,” or maybe a “Nervous Nellie,” keep on reading.
Back in the late 80’s, Bobby McFerrin wrote a melody titled,“Don’t Worry, Be Happy!” Now, I hadn’t thought about that song for years until I decided to write about worry and that little ditty popped up in my head. It’s one of those feel-good tunes that lifts your spirits, makes you sing along, tap your toe, (and sometimes stays in your head for days I might add!)
Of course to believe if you don’t worry is all it takes to be happy, I’d say that’s not being very realistic. But on the other hand, it’s a sure bet that the individual worrying all the time isn’t going to be a happy person either. So, because I had that tune playing in my head but couldn’t remember all the lyrics I visited Mr. Google to look them up. And you know what? I discovered there were some psychological insights embedded in the lyrics. Who knew? Let’s look at a couple of them below.
“In every life we have some trouble
When you worry you make it double”
Man! Isn’t that the truth! Do you know anyone who hasn’t experienced troubles from time to time? Of course not. That’s just how life works. We can however choose how to handle the challenges that come our way. And even though worrying might be your first line of defense, it’s not the most effective. If you think about it, worrying is just heaping more stress upon stress. In other words, first, you have to deal with the trouble itself and then by worrying you will have to deal with all the emotions (and consequences) the worrying brings you. In fact, chronic worrying will not only affect your mood but can have negative repercussions on your relationships, your work, your social life as well as your mental and physical well-being.
“Don’t worry, it will soon pass,
Whatever it is”
Talking on the phone with an old friend the other day I stopped her mid-stream in the conversation before it spiraled farther down into the depths of despair. I knew as soon as she had said, “Hello” it was going to be another one of “those” conversations. Having known each other for many years I had been privy to numerous conversations such as the one about to take place.
I won’t bore you with the details but just know when this individual is wearing “the worrying hat,” the conversations all take the same path; There’s a family member involved, said family member is having some trouble, (health, financial, personal, etc.) and my dear old friend is beside herself thinking the worst. And that’s when I gently (but sometimes firmly) remind her of all the times over the years she has worried herself sick about something that never came to pass. Or, the outcome was not as bad as she had feared. I want to believe deep down inside she realizes this but nevertheless it is a struggle for her.
Negative events do occur in life and yes, they do affect us, BUT, they generally don’t affect us as much or for as long as we expect (or fear) they will. And even if our fears should come to fruition, all the worrying you do in advance isn’t going to help you cope with them. It will just wear you down.
4 MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT WORRY
I can control my problems by worrying. Some people use worry as a way to control their problems thinking this will lead them to solving their problems. But this is hardly the case. In fact, worrying excessively keeps your emotions in an uproar actually making it harder to find a good solution to the problem. It’s much better to remain calm and to think rationally.
If I worry enough I can prevent something bad from happening. Worry by itself has never prevented anything from happening. Each time you worry and nothing bad happens your mind subconsciously connects worrying to preventing harm keeping the cycle going. But in reality, only actions can truly stop something from happening.
If I can think through (worry) all the possible things that could happen I will be prepared for anything. The mind can come up with endless “what ifs” if you let it. By doing this you are only setting yourself up for undue stress on scenarios that most likely will never happen.
I’m just a born worrier. Sorry to pop your bubble, but, no, you weren’t born that way. Somewhere along the line you began to believe that worrying was useful even while acknowledging that it causes you stress. And because it’s a learned behavior you can also learn how to not live so anxiously, too.
DO YOU WORRY TOO MUCH?
While it’s normal to worry about things such as starting a new job, an unpaid bill, or a medical concern, etc., what’s not normal is when worry becomes persistent, uncontrollable and interferes with daily life. So, how much is too much? Ask yourself the questions below to find out. If you can answer, “Yes,” to most of them, it’s a good indicator that your worry is at an unhealthy level.
When you think on the “what ifs” do you focus on the worst-case scenarios?
Do you lay in bed at night and can’t sleep for worrying?
Do you interpret everything as a potential problem?
Do you have a hard time relaxing?
Do you have recurring physical problems such as high blood pressure, tight muscles, stomach aches, suppressed immune system, headaches?
Stress and worry affect our lives in so many ways. Someone once said, “Worry is like blood pressure: you need a certain level to live, but too much can kill you.” I guess you could say that’s the worst worry can do. I know at the bare minimum, excessive worrying will definitely cut down on your happiness and enjoyment of life. So, if you’re interested in finding ways on how to stop letting stress and worry dictate your life any longer, please call me, Kris Henderson, at 616-516-1570 or schedule an appointment online today. And remember…Don’t Worry, Be Happy!