Breaking the worrying habit.

Thursday May 16, 2013

'Normal' worrying serves a useful purpose. It can spur you into taking action and dealing with problems. But when you become weighed down with 'what if' fears and worst-case scenarios, unrelenting worrying can become paralysing. Non-stop doubts and fears can drain your emotional energy, elevate anxiety and get in the way of everyday activities. It can keep you awake at night and make you tense and edgy during the day. No wonder we get worried about worrying.

But remember, chronic worrying is, after all, only a mental habit and like every habit it can be broken.

The starting point is to realise that anxious thoughts are driven by the beliefs, negative and positive, you hold about worrying.

On the negative side, you might believe that your constant worrying is going to drive you mad or make you physically ill. You might even believe that you will eventually spiral out of control and that worrying will take over your life.

More positively, you probably believe that worrying is a form of self protection, helping you to avoid bad situations and preparing you for the worst. Ultimately, you believe that worrying is the first stage to fixing things. Worrying, in this view, leads to solutions.

Clearly, your negative beliefs add to your anxiety. But your positive beliefs about worrying can be equally damaging. The point is that it's extremely hard to break the worry habit if you believe that your worrying is protecting you in some way. To put a life of chronic worry and anxiety behind you, the key is throw away your belief that your excessive worrying serves a positive purpose. You need to accept that worrying is in fact the problem, not in the solution.

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