Two key parts to eliminating worry
The three key strategies to eliminate worry
What is it, actually?
What viewpoint works better?
Using the tool that works
If you still insist, here is how to deal with worry
What's the payoff for any effort?
What is the actual risk and is it "acceptable"?
The pity of it
Does worry work?
Effects of worry
To eliminate or greatly reduce worry
Prime overall piece
Additional pieces to read about the overall
Worry is a "civilized" form of voodoo. It is magical thinking that we think it will somehow prevent the events we are concerned about. People fail to objectively note that virtually never is there real permanent harm - and that, if there is, we as humans automatically adjust and we do it much better than we think we will Sure there is discomfort, inconvenience, not being as rich, not meeting expectations - but those are just mind games which we can choose to play a different way....
Worry is one of the greatest, needless wastes of human energy and destroyers of happiness. It must not be tolerated! Either direct your attention to what you feel anxious about and do something about it or disengage if it is not something you'll do anything about. Do not believe that worrying will prove one bit useful but do believe that it will be very, very harmful.
There is what can be created as a powerful viewpoint that is a permanent way out.
"As Mark Twain suggests, we often live more in our self-created world of dire images than in the real world."
"Worry, by definition, fails to addresss issues productively."
Robert Gerzon, Finding Serenity...
"I will not tolerate worry. It is useless and harmful. I now choose to address this directly or write it down to address it at a particular time or to dismiss it. I dismiss most of the worry thoughts by saying 'this is nonsense. I am fine. I can handle life and it'll all work out'. That's it. Period. No more worrying."
(Say 2 times a day for 21 days.)
As you'll surely read in the resources we recommend, worry was useful in evolution, when survival was the biggest problem, and we did not have effective tools for problem solving and planning. It kept the search for food on our minds, so that we did not starve. It seemed a simple planning tool: "what should I do if a vicious animal attacks me?"
But now we have nothing substantial (life/limb threatening) to be concerned about. Yet, as humans, we have this almost instinctual tendency to worry. And to address this we must do the opposites of the basis for worry: assure ourselves we are safe, assure ourselves that we can handle whatever comes up in life, assure ourselves that we'll be ok no matter what happens, and assure ourselves by having a plan (which automatically relieves the worry-brain from having concern about it).
The "worry-brain" (amygdala, etc.) is always automatically scanning for possible threats so it can issue the alarm (chemicals, etc.) so that the threat can be addressed. If we assure it that our higher brain (the "I" of Who I Am) is handling it, then, as the dutiful employee it is, it no longer scans for certain types of potential threats. The latter makes sense in that if we declare something is no longer a threat and believe that then it will no longer be on our radar as a threat to scan for. (Duh!)
Overuse, misuse, and abuse
We misuse and abuse ourselves by indulging in it for no useful purpose - all we get out of worrying is to experience over and over being "scared" - the subemotion is called anxiety - and it means constant tension if we live life with it underlying our thoughts and our life.
If we leave it up to our primitive instincts (primitive brain), with no intervention, then the worrying will be excessive and stressful. We must instruct it and talk to it, using our higher brain, so that it does only that which we want it to.
Worry is not, today, a useful practice
Today, worry is not a useful practice to rely heavily on.
You are, in fact, much, much safer and more well-off than you think now. You have an assured food supply and the ability to at least earn enough for shelter and to have a good life enjoying the sun and borrowing books from the library. You're safe from attack, living in a place of law and order. You can even live a good life, where you'll return to your normal happiness level within a year, if you become a paraplegic. You have a huge abundance of alternatives, even moving images with voices and stories you can access from the air...
Debunk, develop new habit
Debunking your thinking and/or switching how you handle what you might worry about will make all the difference in the world.
Since you learned "worry" and developed it into a habit, you can unlearn worrying also. And what a relief it is to almost never worry!!!! Learn this!!!!
You definitely can 'not-worry'.
You definitely must not waste your energy doing it. You definitely must not tolerate it, not allow it at all. (Stop, handle it or set a when, plan - Pause Pace Plan.)
TWO KEY PARTS TO ELIMINATING WORRY
There are two key parts to reducing and/or eliminating worry:
Changing 'the thinking' that creates worry/anxiety (e.g. the world is a scary
place, I'll be devastated, I won't be able to handle it and I'll be miserable,
etc.), replacing it with new corrected thinking.
Lowering the sense of danger and reflecting a realistic point of view.
THE THREE KEY STRATEGIES TO ELIMINATE WORRYING
"Natural" anxiety is simply a signal to address and take care of something that is of concern. The correct 'scanning and noting" process is have the no-anxiety observations of the "black box" in an airplane: 'off course to the left, adjust to the right...' and such. There is no added conversation of "omigod, what if I keep going more to the left and crash, what is I can't adjust."
"Toxic" anxiety is continuing ruminating, without action to solve what can be solved.
1. Do our inner work: Identify and alter dysfunctional inner talk (deal with and change beliefs) that is the cause of the feeling of being scared, namely danger that is fabricated, not true. Identifying (and noting) is, in essence, the process of creating "awareness," always the first step. Once we notice something is awry, then the second step is always to replace it with an altered but true belief that works. Then we install it. Part of the process is self-calming. 2. Use 'planning' (or "systematic problem solving") to anticipate the future consequences and deal with what is controllable, affectable - instead of doing fruitless worrying. "Worry fiddles around with problems but never stops to examine them in an organized, intelligent fashion. Worry becomes a substitute for thoughtful examination and self-reflection." (Robert Gerzon, op.cit.)
WHAT IS IT, ACTUALLY?
Virtually everything we do evolved as a mechanism that helped us survive. So, we always need to ask ourselves, then, "what function did this serve in terms of survival?" and "how might it be used in this day and age?"
First, we need to make some distinctions and differentiate among terms.
A "concern" is about something you want or don't want, plus an anticipation of what to do to make it happen. It is not an emotion, though fear can easily be attached to a concern, if one so allows or chooses.
When the concern is made into a worry by one's belief system, then the "strategy of worry" is infested with toxic fear that is harmful to one's body and mind plus hurting one's effectiveness in life.
In order not to lose focus here, let's distinguish between worry as a mechanism and worry as a so-called feeling. As a feeling, it is just another name for fear (connected to anticipating a bad result).
Worry is not an emotion but is an activity that exacerbates (multiplies, makes worse) damaging emotions. It is the cause of those emotions, though the practice of worry is caused by an initial fear (or a concern that something "bad" will happen).
In Webster's dictionary, worry is defined as: "1. to harass or treat roughly with or as with continual biting or tearing with the teeth (a dog worrying a bone), 2. to annoy, bother, harass, vex, etc. 3. to cause to feel troubled or uneasy; make anxious; distress."
Is this something you would choose to do to yourself? Is this behavior you would tolerate in another toward you? Is this, then, behavior, you should allow your primitive brain to continue?
The noun definition is "A troubled state of mind."
Note that it is only a "state of mind". We confuse it with the fear-emotion because we are harassing ourselves repeatedly by repeating our fear. It is not an emotion, though it is often used that way.
OUTDATED, NOW OPTIONAL
Yes, we want to anticipate a possible undesired outcome - but we need not add fear to it and we certainly need not do it in an "unuseful", often harmful way.
In the caveman days, as noted elsewhere repeatedly, it helped us to have our alarm centers send out excess danger signals so that we would prevent something that could happen, so we'd be more likely to survive. So, as we have learned when studying evolution, that gene characteristic did, therefore, survive because people who had the gene lived to pass the gene on! (See How The Mind Developed.)
Remember, though, that the fear is of "not surviving". A true threat to our survival occurs hardly at all in today's world.
And it is unanticipatable, unless it is something like letting ourselves starve to death or to stay out of areas where people are killing others, both of which are something we have control over in this part of the world.
Other than actual threats, then what we worry about must be "not actual" threats or false threats. Most often those are things that our immature primitive minds linked to survival and has held onto as a belief that has been unexamined, to be used repeatedly until instructed otherwise! Surely rejection and lack of approval is not actually life threatening (and it should be just a "not preferred" and "no big deal").
WHAT VIEWPOINT WORKS?
But if we look at this from the viewpoint of oneself being powerful and having perspective, one would note only that the vital basic function is: to focus attention on something of concern, i.e. something that we'd like to have occur or something we'd like to prevent from occurring. In that case, we wouldn't dwell on it and we would only give it enough attention to be worth the benefit of the attention (having it turn out as we wish it to be). Of course, being realistic, we would know that we are only dealing with a "probability" of something occurring, as we cannot control all outcomes, and we would accept that as one of the givens of life but that it is "no big deal" in perspective, as life overall turns out well. Yes, we'll experience "undesired outcomes", but if we are to be mature adults we can learn to have confidence that it is perfectly adequate to simply rely on our responding to do our best at the time no matter what the outcome. That is one of the secrets to happiness, as discussed in Fearlessness.
As with fear, we would take the initial signal of a possible fear as just a signal to be considered.
The powerful person with perspective would then give a matter careful consideration when it is merited and decide what is appropriate to do to create what is desired, and then proceed to solve, lessen, or prevent the problem from occurring. He/she would not do what is in the origin of the word worry: "seize by the throat, strangle to death".
Of course, always applicable is the Serenity Prayer:
May I have the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference.
USING THE TOOL THAT WORKS
If we use the higher brain to make decisions, we know that it sifts to see what is actual and not actual, dismisses what is not actual, and then evaluates the priorities among the actuals, deciding what to do based on the probability of getting a good payoff for the time and effort so that life is benefited overall.
That sounds fancy, but it is actually what can be done. You need only choose to, when all else fails, "use your head." (Duh!)
But to choose it, one must have the "perspective" to see the overall. One must have the perspective in life to know that one will have undesired outcomes and that they are not of great importance in the overall of life and that one can deal reasonably well on average with those outcomes to create something good and that life overall has many benefits, even after subtracting the so-called "negatives". Part of that perspective is in the piece "Life will turn out well". Be sure you have that. Another part lies in your realizing and acknowledging that you have Power.
IF YOU STILL INSIST, HERE IS HOW TO DEAL WITH WORRY
We often end up dealing with worry as if it were a given that we are the victim of. But that is not true. It is just the result of letting the mechanics of Dumb and Dumber rule without our exerting what we can to make things work instead of worrying (as laid out above).
To combat worry, Ed Hallowell, one of the most renowned experts in the area (see his book in resources), suggests that
1. People should not worry alone, because people are much more likely to come up with solutions when talking about their concerns with a friend.
2. That worriers find out more information about the issue that is troubling them, or make sure that their information is correct.
3. One should make a plan and take action and
4. Take "care of your brain" by sleeping enough, getting exercise, and eating a healthy diet (without a lot of carbs, junk food, alcohol, drugs, etc.).
I agree absolutely.
However, notice that this approach includes dealing with the worry by coming up with solutions, finding out and/or verifying information, and planning in order to create actions that will ameliorate the potential problem. I propose that you do all of those without bothering with the worry part at all; just do it because that is what you want to do and have decided to do.
WHAT'S THE PAYOFF FOR ANY EFFORT?
A perspective question:
If something is unlikely to happen, what is the payoff per amount of effort spent on that unlikely happening?
I would propose that the payoff is very small if you multiply the probability it would happen by the benefit of preventing it.
For example, if something has a one-tenth of 1 percent chance of happening and the benefit of solving the problem is, say, 5 units, then the average payoff of such things is .005 units of benefit.
If I could spend that time somewhere else, such as learning something, and get a benefit of 1 unit, then I should do that instead and just let the .005 unit loss happen, on average. I'll end up netting a gain of .995 units - a pretty good choice.
In the literature, they point out that worry may even have positive effects, if it prompts people to take precautions (e.g., fastening their seat belt or buying fire insurance) or to avoid risky behaviors (e.g., promiscuous sexual relations or cliff diving).
And they say that "good worry" leads to constructive action, such as taking steps to resolve the issue that is causing concern.
And that is simply like "good fear" (worry is a form of fear), its initial signal has value to alert us to a possibility where we need to determine if it makes sense to pay further attention to.
We need only "act on the signal" (of fear) but not repeat the signal over and over to create further chemical imbalance in the body (aka "upset").
WHAT'S THE ACTUAL RISK AND IS IT "ACCEPTABLE"?
I must take some "risk" in life of losing something, but if I know that on average things turn out and no matter what I am in a life that has an incredibly great amount of benefits, then the loss is a big "so what!?!", or, as Richard Carlson points out in his famous book, "just small stuff".
So many people "know" this, but in a trite sense, where it has not been fully understood and implemented. Completing your understanding and implementation of this is the only option, if you truly want a happy life, with freedom from fear.
THE PITY OF IT
It is a pity to "experience" the event you are worried about happening, but experiencing it now and over and over, instead of just experiencing it once when, and if, it happens. The worry also results from having a lack of confidence that one can handle adverse outcomes and still be happy on average. When one learns to have confidence about the future one can experience a sense of fearlessness. (See the Fear section.)
DOES WORRY WORK?
To some extent, of course. Anything that causes a focus of attention on something of concern has value. (Of course, we always need to trade off the cost against the value.)
One of the first things to be very clear about is that it is not true at all that worrying helps stave off bad outcomes.
To the extent we can control and/or influence outcomes, that comes from planning and asking "what can go wrong that we need to control?" and then doing something about it. But worrying and ruminating about what might happen and then making it into a BIG DEAL, as if it were at the level of a tiger attacking you, is a huge waste of energy and mind power, mind power that could be put to better use - to create even more happiness.
EFFECTS OF WORRY
Worry refers to negative self-talk that often distracts the mind from focusing on solutions to the problem at hand.
It uses up time and wastes alot of energy.
It lowers the quality of life and creates stress. Read and now and decide if the effects of stress are worth it.
TO ELIMINATE OR AT LEAST GREATLY REDUCE
Let me also point out here that you would engage in doing the "opposites" of worry (fear):
Practice Gratitude - Adopt the key practices in that section - for much, much greater happiness. Peace of Mind - Teach yourself how to have it. This would include learning to defuse the Fear process, disappearing those fears that trigger worry in the first place! Accepting Reality - A huge relief when one understands how accepting reality works and how it is truly attainable. And, of course, a key determinant of success in solving a problem and/or achieving a want is that of making a commitment, as below.
I commit to continuing to learn and implement the ways to eliminate worry until I have completed this competence and, in fact, stopped worrying!
I am clear that I must remove worry from my life as it is fruitless and harmful. I hereby commit to giving up worrying.
The time and energy freed up from worrying will be devoted instead to creating more of what works and more of what I want, so I will actually have more.
I will simply cope with what comes up, accepting that undesired outcomes happen.
I will remember that I am capable and I pledge to do all I can to create something that improves the situation, something that works. And that things work out overall, in "the averages."
I will remember and do all I need to remind myself that I have much and I am so grateful for such a gift and my many blessings. If I lose a few, I still have plenty left over.
I am the creator of my life and I am not a victim at all. I am the master.
I commit this _____ day of ___________________, _______
TO READ AND SELECT FROM
Prime overall piece:
worry and aliveness. What it takes to grow up. The tools to handle it.
Additional pieces to read for the overall:
What, Me Worry? - A one page musing about why bother to worry when I can still
always have enough...
really going on in your mind and what to do, if anything.
VERY VALUABLE EXERCISE!
purpose but at a cost also. How to implement a "doable" step that helps change that
"habit" and way of thinking.
(F) Worry Record - A place to record what you said to yourself, and what you said about
that, your fears, triggering events, and to go through a process of "handling" it more
effectively. As you identify what you are saying to yourself, you set up the opportunity
to look at it and to redecide if the thinking makes sense or not. An essential tool to
debunk and defuse worry.
RESOURCES: BOOKS AND SITES
It makes sense to read several books to reinforce and learn and master this area.
A good quick summary:
Stop Worrying, Frank J. Bruno, Ph.D. - A relatively thin book with great readability, giving a
great and sufficient overview along with techniques that work.
The definitive book in the field:
Worry, Controlling It And Using It Wisely, Edward M. Hallowell, M.D. - Follow this program,
being sure to spend adequate time, will be well worth the effort!
Also highly respected:
Worry-Free Living, Frank Minirth, M.D., Paul Meier, M.D. and Don Hawkins, Th. M.
Note purposes only:
we must have an effective substitute to worrying that will similarly help us do our best in solving a problem.
can't do anything about.
Suppose you lost an arm in an accident. You realize that this will entail so much inconvenience in your work, your personal chores, and your life in general. Do you worry about this?
In positive psychology, worry is described as a response to a moderate challenge for which the subject has inadequate skills.