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Mandy KloppersMandy Kloppers
videos concerning mental health issues

How to Stop Worrying

Mandy Kloppers Updated: Feb 18th 2015

Some ‘rules’ around worrying seem commonplace. These are the rules I have come across the most:

woman worrying1) I must worry to reduce the risk of something bad happening in an uncertain situation

Although this worry rule is reasonable when faced with life changing events, it isn’t true that the more we worry the safer we will be. You can worry every hour of the day and you will find that trouble will find you regardless of the amount of worrying you do. It therefore pays to stop worrying over mundane events, especially around what others think of you or how to change your partner – neither of these can be controlled.

2) I must achieve certainty before I can act

It’s good to do a risk assessment, but certainty is unrealistic. Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith and believe that you will deal with whatever comes your way.

3) The feeling of uncertainty is awful and must be avoided

Another unrealistic and rigid rule that will leave a person feeling frustrated constantly. Uncertainty is a natural part of life and learning to live with uncertainty is the key to feeling less worried.

Be aware of your worries but try not to respond to each and every worry you have. See the worry as a transitional thought, like a passing cloud or pebble in a stream – you see it but you don’t have to “buy into” the worry/thought. Remind yourself that worrying is made up up thoughts that are NOT facts.

Focus on the present moment after the worry has passed. Stay in the moment rather than letting your thoughts wander of to “what if” thinking about the future or the past. Being mindful makes it harder to worry.

Unhelpful behaviours that maintain our worries:

1) Seeking reassurance – this only triggers further uncertainty and worry.

2) Checking and re-checking. The “what if” questions sows seeds of doubt.

3) Post-mortem worry. Once a worrier has made decision they then doubt whether they have made the right decision.

Worriers hate not knowing or uncertainty. We all find this unbearable but it is a constant feature of our world. We therefore need to find productive ways to tolerate it. Learn to challenge your worries – where’s the evidence? Define what the problem is and decide if it is something within your control. Be resolution focused with worries rather than allowing them to marinate.

 

Mandy Kloppers

Mandy is a Psychologist living in the United Kingdom. She runs a private practice (see http://www.mandyjane-lifedesign.com for details) and offers regular advice and tips in her blog Thoughts on Life and Love. She specializes in working with step-families and relationships (especially relationships involving mental and emotional abuse) through online skype therapy sessions.

    Reader Comments
    Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

    Fret not - Darlene - Mar 1st 2015

    Codependents worry a lot. Usually their anxiety is fear of abandonment or judgment, called shame anxiety. Worry is an attempt the control the unknow and takes us away from the present. As the wisdom below imparts, if we there's a solution, find it; otherwise, let go - allow feelings to flow, and get on with today.

     "Some of your hurts you have cured, And the sharpest you still have survived, But what torments of grief you endured From the evil which never arrived." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

    “If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it's not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.” Dalai Lama XIV

    Darlene Lancer, LMFT, Author of Codependency for Dummies and Conquering Shame and Codependency whatiscodependency.com

     

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