Does it seem like you worry too much?
Do OTHER people tell you that you worry too much?
Eckhart Tolle, the author of The Power of Now, says that “worry pretends to be necessary but serves no useful purpose”.
I love this quote because it feels so true. It’s like if we worry, then we are DOING something.
At the SURFACE, worrying gives the perception that some kind of helpful action is being taken toward a particular goal.
For example, maybe you believe that by worrying you can prevent something bad from happening to your loved ones or to yourself.
Or you think that worrying about everyone else makes you a “good” and “worthy” person, wife, husband, mother, father, colleague, etc.
Worry tricks you into believing that you are doing something useful.
But what exactly are you accomplishing when you worry?
It’s not like you have any control over things outside of yourself.
For example, constantly worrying and stressing about getting a promotion won’t impact the boss’s decision. What WILL make an impact is demonstrating to him that you are the most qualified person for the job. If you are consumed with worry, you are NOT focused and probably aren’t doing your job all that well.
I told myself for YEARS that by worrying about the little things, I am being PREVENTATIVE. I justified my worry as a means to do a little “forward thinking”, to avoid having to do unnecessary or tedious work in the future. I convinced myself it was useful.
The truth is, I spent so much time worrying, that I wasn’t really enjoying.
Worrying is a bottomless pit. It consumes your joy.
I couldn’t fully be present, even when just trying to relax, because I kept finding things to worry and obsess over. And I wasn’t even worrying about the BIG stuff, rather, minor things like not wanting to forget to add something to the grocery list. Or making note of something that needs to be cleaned.
Again, I was telling myself I was PREVENTING some horrible outcome down the road. As if forgetting to buy butter was going to completely ruin dinner. As if there aren’t a shit-ton of places I could stop another time to pick up butter.
The reality was I used worry to keep myself BUSY with menial tasks versus doing the larger, more scary business-related projects that could end in failure.
Your Body Reacts
Some people associate too much worry with “having anxiety”. If you think about it, holding a lot of worry energy inside does create a great deal of body tension.
Where do you tend to feel it?
- Your chest?
- Your stomach?
- Maybe it gives you a migraine?
When you start worrying abut something it triggers a fear response, which activates your fight or flight mechanism.
Hormones are secreted that increases heart and breathing rate, and constricts the functioning of non-vital organs. (When your body is getting ready to fight or flee, it’s not so concerned about your digestion or making babies.)
At some point, though, you DO want to have proper digestion and you might indeed want to make a baby. But if you spend you time worrying, then you are suppressing these functions.
Infertility anyone? Anyone?
The TRUTH Behind Worry
The truth about worry is that it’s just an escape goat. We use it to AVOID or MASK something else in our life.
What do people tend to avoid? Here’s a few things:
- feeling incompetent
- feeling not-needed anymore (especially when it come to children/kid issues)
- looking “bad”
- feeling unworthy
- feeling stupid
- focusing on self
- certain tasks/actions (hello procrastination)
The good news is that if we deal with the REAL source of avoidance, then we no longer need the worry.
Approximately 85% of what you worry about never happens.
Let’s put this in context.
Would you spend 85% of your time hanging out at the gas station just in case you ran out of gas when you were driving?
Of course not. That would be silly.
Would you spend 85% of your income on lottery tickets just in case you won?
No. If you knew someone who did that you would probably think they were pretty irresponsible.
So why invest so much time in feeling worried and anxious?
How To Stop Worrying So Much
The trick to defeating unnecessary worry is to do an in-depth assessment as to HOW you think you are BENEFITTING from worry.
What is your misguided perception? Do you think you are preventing something? Or it’s helping you feel better about yourself?
Then do some digging to uncover the REAL reason you are choosing excessive worry. What exactly are you trying to AVOID or cover up?
Do some journaling or meditate on it. See what comes up for you.
When you can be aware of how worry is tricking you, and uncover the real reason why you are using it, then you are in a powerful position to DO something about it.
I always say, AWARENESS is the key to any change.