Do you worry too much?
Almost everyone worries sometimes. Worry is the mind’s way of trying to solve problems that we haven’t encountered yet. Sometimes those problems are things that are likely to happen (like upcoming job interviews) and sometimes they are things that might happen (what if I lose my job?). The problem with worry is that it is a form of suffering that is disguised as a problem-solving strategy. Worry tends to lead to more worry. It doesn’t tend to lead to constructive, actionable solutions to our problems. Worry can become a problem if it occurs too often, is uncontrollable, causes distress, and interferes with important things in life.
Worry vs. Problem Solving
Worry seems very similar to problem solving on the surface. However, worry tends to be reactive rather than responsive. In other words, it’s a “knee jerk” reaction in anticipation of confronting something that could be potentially emotionally or physically painful. Our minds are trying to find ways to avoid future pain by making snap judgments. The problem is that these snap judgments bring upsetting thoughts and images of future pain into the present without actually giving us solutions. Problems solving, on the other hand, is a response to anticipated future stress or pain. It is a conscious process. Problem solving involves clearly defining a problem, brainstorming actionable solutions, and then making plans to try the most promising solutions. It leaves us with an action plan. Worry leaves us with an unresolved problem.
If you tend to be a worrier, one strategy that you might try is called “productive worry.” This strategy is pretty simple but effective. First, set aside some time each day (start with 10-15 minutes). This will be your “productive worry time.” Next, get a piece of paper. Start by writing down all of the things that you are worried about. Be as specific as you can. Once you have identified your worries, go thorough each one and identify a specific action that you can take to address that worry. If there are worries left on your sheet that you either can’t do anything about right away or that are completely out of your control, you might decide to ask for help or even allow yourself to put aside that concern for the time being. Once your worry time is up for the day, fold your “worry log” and put it in your pocket. Put your action plans into practice and, if you start to worry again, remind yourself that your worry time for the day is over.
Can’t stop worrying?
If you are having trouble stopping worry from happening, CBT can be very helpful. Contact Dr. Andy Santanello today using the contact form to request your free consultation!