You may worry that you’ll be late, you don’t look as great as you “should”, your partner is getting bored with you, your finances are drying up, your plane will be attacked by terrorists, and you’ll make a total fool of yourself when you meet someone new. If you are anxious, I’m betting my money on the fact that you are a chronic worrier.
In fact, in one study 38% of people said that they worry every day. Some people say, “I’ve been a worrier all my life”. What’s intriguing about this is that chronic worriers seldom can point to anything really bad that has happened that led to their worry. In fact, 85% of the things that worriers worry about have a positive or neutral outcome. But they continue day after day—year after year—to worry about bad things that almost never happen. How can this make sense?
One way of “making sense” of your worry is to ask yourself, “Can we write a rule-book that describes how you worry?” I think we can.
The Worry Cure Rule-Book
Oh, yeah. I forgot about the eighth rule. If you’re a worrier, you probably don’t trust your memory anyway---which is another reason to worry. The eighth rule is the one that makes you feel that your worry is driving you insane. It’s this:
8. You've got to stop worrying right now or you'll drive yourself crazy.
Let's take a closer look at these simple, easy-to-follow rules for becoming a first class worrier.
In writing out these “rules” for worriers I am not trying to make fun of your anxiety. But you can see that there is some internal logic, some consistency, in the way you think. You have been using worry to solve problems (that don’t exist), get rid of uncertainty (in an uncertain world), and assure that you will never feel bad or fail. These are impossible goals.
Think about what you think you are getting from your worry. Are you trying to avoid being surprised, are you trying to motivate yourself, are you trying to control your mind? The first step in dealing with your worries is to understand why it makes sense to you.
In future blogs I’ll tell you what to do to turn your worries on their head.
To learn more about the nature of worry and what you can do about it, see my book The Worry Cure: Seven Steps to Stop Worry from Stopping You.