I come from a long line of worriers, on both sides of my family. While we seem to mellow each generation (a little), there are probably more worry warts in my family than in the rest of the UK, myself included. It’s no secret that I’m a certified worrier with an actual anxiety disorder.
In the last year or so, however, I’ve come to the conclusion that worrying is a massive waste of time and energy. These are lessons learned the hard way, so I hope that some of this hard-earned wisdom saves you all some time and trouble.
Worrying doesn’t change anything
What are the main things people worry about? Mostly things that haven’t happened yet, like missing trains or being stuck in traffic and being late or things going wrong in their life. It feels horrible to worry (I’ll get to that) so why do we do it to ourselves? Well, because it gives us a false sense of control. But it’s just that – false. Worrying about something gives you no more control over it than forgetting about it entirely – holding onto a worry in your mind may make you think you’re going to change an outcome, but you’re not. In fact…
Worrying depletes your energy and wellbeing
Worrying works you up and increases your stress levels. If you spend your entire way to work worrying about work, you’ll be so tightly wound by the time you get there that even if your worries come to nothing, you’re still in a horrible head space. Worry leads to stress, stress leads to illness, muscle pain, anxiety, depression… it all starts with a worry.
Worrying creates scenarios that are not yet real
I’ve genuinely seen people worry themselves into creating entire stories. I once told a particularly worrisome friend that she should be a fiction writer. What are the two words that precede the worry narrative? “What if?” “What if I go down this path and this happens? What if I don’t do this and that happens?” Which leads me to…
Worrying prevents you from following your dreams
If you are constantly inventing scenarios in which your hopes and dreams lead to calamity and ruin, then you’re much less likely to follow them. We only have one, precious life (as far as we know) to waste it worrying about what ifs and preventing yourself from living is a tragedy.
Worries become a self-fulfilling prophecy
When you worry about something happening, you’re more likely to behave in a way that actually triggers the thing you were most afraid of. Worried a friend doesn’t like you? What’s to stop you acting differently around that friend until they actually don’t like you?! Worried about your health? You can literally worry yourself sick. Worry causes you to behave in a way that attracts the thing you fear the most – so let it go.
Worrying makes it hard for others to be around you
Who wants to hang out with someone who is always fearing the worst? Replace that worry with excitement and positivity and watch your social life soar.
Eliminate worry now
If you worry a lot, it can be a hard habit to snap out of. Instead of beating yourself up, gently remind yourself when you next worry that you’re telling yourself a story – one that won’t change the outcome of your situation and is likely to attract the thing you want the least. Then calmly do whatever you need to do to reduce your worry and put it aside.
Ask yourself: “is there anything I can do about this right now?” Most people worry about things they can’t change or influence, so if the answer is “no” then banish the worry from your mind and visualise a positive outcome instead.