Anxiety Files

Simple and powerful techniques for coping with anxiety and worry.

The Worst Advice for a Worrier

The best advice and the worst advice for a worrier.

Best Advice In my book, The Worry Cure: Seven Steps to Stop Worry from Stopping You, I thought it would be helpful to tell you about both the best advice and the worst advice for a worrier. Our friends and family often sound like Stuart Smalley giving advice from a bag of trite and empty sayings. Didn't work for him, won't work for you.

If you are a worrier, you have probably heard some of the following-bad advice:

  •  Try to be more positive
  •  You have nothing to worry about
  •  Everything will turn out OK
  • You need to believe in yourself
  • I believe in you
  • Try to get your mind off of it
  • Just STOP WORRYING!

If you are like a lot of worriers, this kind of advice is not only useless, but it probably annoys you---and even makes you feel more depressed. After all, if this is the best advice that you can get, then things must we worse than you thought.

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OK. Let's take a look at a few of these losing points and why they won't help you.

Really Bad Advice

Advice Try to be more positive!
Sounds good, but you won't believe yourself if you start to act like you are optimistic. In fact, you might actually think that if you try to be optimistic you will let your guard down and overlook the danger on the horizon. (Hint: You may worry because you think it will protect you. Thinking optimistically may seem more dangerous to you.)

You need to believe in yourself.
Again, sounds very encouraging, but exactly how are you going to do this? You do believe in yourself-that is, your ability to predict disaster. You think you are being realistic. That's what you believe. And you can't just snap your fingers and say, "I believe in myself. I have confidence." It's nonsense and you know it.

I believe in you.
Nice to have a friend like this, but that doesn't help you avoid worrying about bad things happening. You might be trying to be nice to me, trying to make me feel better. I appreciate it. But when you say that you believe in me, maybe you don't know me as well as I do.

Just STOP WORRYING!
Wouldn't that be nice-if you could do it. But you can't. In fact, if you try to suppress your thoughts they will bounce back even more forcefully. (Hint: Try not to think of a white bear..... hmmmm..)

So, tell your loved ones that you love them for trying. But this bad advice only makes you feel invalidated, misunderstood, dismissed---and all alone.

But you are not all alone. 38% of us worry every day. And the good news is that there are a lot of things that you can do to reverse your worry and regain control of your life. Check out the following blogs where I describe seven steps to overcoming your worries:

  1. Ending Your Worries
  2. Accepting Uncertainty to End Your Worries
  3. Challenging Your Worried Thinking
  4. Looking at the Core of Your Anxiety
  5. Overcome Your Worry by Overcoming Your Fear of Failure
  6. How to use your emotions rather than worry about them
  7. Putting time on your side

To learn more-- read The Worry Cure

The Worry Cure

 

Robert L. Leahy, Ph.D., is the author of Anxiety Free,The Worry Cure and Beat the Blues. He is Clinical Professor of Psychology at Weill-Cornell Medical School. more...

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