How to challenge worry
Worrying is a waste of time- it expends mental energy but doesn’t solve anything. Solution focused worry is the best type of worry but most worry is made up of random ‘nonsense’ thoughts that destroy the current moment by sucking the happiness out. So we spend our lives worrying about things that might never happen and at the same lose, we lose opportunities to enjoy peace of mind and contentment.
Here are positive beliefs about worry that are irrational:
Worry aids with problem solving
Example: If I worry about problems, I am better able to find solutions for them.
Ask yourself: Do you actually solve your problems by worrying or do you end up going over the problem again and again in your head?
Does worry get you to actually solve your problems or do you become so anxious that you delay solving your problems or avoid them altogether?
Are you confusing a thought (worry) with an action (problem solving)?
2. Worry as a motivating force
Example: If I worry about my performance, then I will be motivated to succeed.
Ask yourself: Do you know anyone who is successful and who isn’t a worrier?
Are you confusing worrying with caring? That is, is it possible to want to succeed and not worry about it all the time?
Does your worry really improve your performance? Are there negative repercussions as a result of your excessive worry?
3. Worry protects against negative emotions
Example: If I worry about my child potentially getting a serious disease, I will be better prepared emotionally if it happens.
Ask yourself: Has anything bad ever happened that you had worried about before? How did you feel? Were you buffered from the pain or sadness that it caused?
Does worrying about things that might never happen actually increase your negative emotions in the here and now?
4. Worry, in and of itself, can prevent negative outcomes
Example: When I worry about an upcoming exam at school, I do well; when I don’t worry, I don’t do well.
Ask yourself: Have you ever done poorly on an exam even though you worried?
Is your rule about worry (that is, worry = good outcome; don’t worry = bad outcome) based on real evidence or is it an assumption? For example: is it possible that you only remember the exams you did well on when you worried, and that you forget those you didn’t do well on when you worried?
Were you really not worrying when things didn’t go well on some exams, or are you just remembering it that way to support your assumption?
Could you test this theory? For example: could you track your worry prior to all exams and then look at your performance on each exam?
5. Worry, as a positive trait
Example: The fact that I worry about my children proves that I am a good and caring parent.
Ask yourself: Is there anything else you do that shows you are a good and caring parent? Is it only worrying about your children that shows caring and love?
Do you know any other parents that you would consider “good” and “caring” but who do not worry excessively?
Have you suffered any negative consequences from friends/family because of your excessive worry? Has anyone ever considered your worrying a negative personality trait?
6. The cost of worry: Potential challenges for all worry beliefs
Has excessive worry impacted on your work performance? Do you find that it takes you longer to complete tasks than other people who worry less?
Has your excessive worry led to high levels of stress and fatigue?
How much time and effort do you spend each day worrying about this topic?
Worry isn’t always a good thing and more often than not, it causes more harm than good. Learn to distinguish between REAL worry and HYPOTHETICAL (What if..) worry. A real worry needs attention in the here and now – for example: a broken washing machine…a hypothetical worry is something that may happen but might not.
Worry saps the joy from life and lowers quality of life. Learn to keep it in perspective.