What keeps you up at 3 a.m. that you can’t shake leaving you frustrated you can’t return to sleep?
What worrying is about
Worry is about a future state that hasn’t happened. I worry in my mind but also experience it physically and emotionally.
Mind: When I worry about a topic, I think about potential outcomes and how to control them. I do the “if … then” game. As in, “If x happens, then I will do y. If y happens, then I will do z.”
It’s a never-ending cycle, as you can see, that can easily spiral out of control which, of course, negates the purported reason we worry – to minimize negative outcomes.
Body: I feel agitated and irritable. My heart rate increases. I breathe more shallowly. Ultimately, it makes me feel less grounded. More “in my head.”
Heart: I feel anxious. I don’t actually feel better at all when I worry. My heart contracts and I feel an underlying malaise.
Spirit: When I worry, I become disconnected. I disconnect from myself, the world around me, and invisible world around all of us.
I suspect you can relate to what I’m saying. So why do we worry?
Why we worry (the “payoff”)
Worrying is comforting, like wearing cozy sweatpants and watching a good show. It feels familiar, living in the land of worry. It makes me feel like I’m in control of my destiny. Ironically, I feel safe worrying.
This sense of controlling all possible outcomes makes me feel like I’m being responsible. Adults are responsible. I’m an adult. I frame it as a type of planning. Heck, I did project management for a few years which is basically about controlling external variables to keep to a timeline and budget.
Clearly, there’s a payoff from worrying. Do you see yourself in any of my answers?
The fallacy of worrying
The fallacy of worrying looms large. I can’t control external variables, only myself and my response. How many times have I said that in my blog over the past year?
Control is illusory and leads to a false sense of self. There’s a belief if I control “correctly,” I can make the future the way I want it. In other words, my ego drives my worrying. The result is I end up stuck in a problem instead of finding a solution.
Worrying calcifies growth.
When I’m anxious, I can’t resolve issues. It’s through lived experiences that we grow most. Worrying isn’t living; it’s imagining.
Just because something feels familiar doesn’t mean it’s good for me. I love McDonalds but it’s not good for me to eat it every day.
Adults assume responsibility but worrying isn’t the best way to handle it. Responsibility means I take charge of myself, my behaviours and actions. Back to control: the only control I have is over myself and my responses.
How to stop worrying
I gave six (6) tips on Removing Emotional Weight a few months ago that apply to managing worry as well. Reread it as a refresher.
Bottom line? Recognize when you start worrying. Interrupt the pattern. Create a new habit.