Why worry?

A few days ago I went into hospital and was told I have a tumour inside the ear. At this moment I don’t know whether it is malignant or not. We will only find that out after I have had the surgery.

The surprising thing, for me, is I haven’t worried about it at all. That’s weird because, for years, I would worry about anything and everything. I even used to worry about the fact that I was worrying so much. Now I don’t even worry about cancer.

Worry, as far as I am concerned, is a thing of the past. In fact, I can’t worry. It’s too difficult for me to do now because I have re-programmed my brain not to.

Here’s how you can do the same.

First, understand that worries are not real. They are fictions about the future. Your Mind makes them up either as ‘disaster movies’, ‘horror stories’, or ‘head-tapes’. It was long ago established that over 90% of the events we worry about either never materialize or are greatly exaggerated. Make a decision not to watch or listen to a single worry ever again.

Second, understand that worrying is a form of conditioning. Very young children do not worry – they are trained to worry by the adults around them. You can reverse that conditioning.

Third, understand that worry serves no purpose and is in fact useless. Some people think worry helps them solve problems. It doesn’t. It just creates anxiety and adds to the problem. Real problem-solving has nothing to do with worry.

Fourth, understand that you aren’t going to be punished when you are happy, well, loved, successful, or prosperous. Some people think ‘it is all too good to be true’ or ‘it’ll all end badly some day’. Then they start worrying. The idea that you have to ‘earn’ your happiness by worrying is a superstition.

Fifth, let go of the idea that the solution to worry and stress is to drink, smoke, have sex with strangers, take drugs or go on a shopping binge. These solve nothing and you don’t need to do them anyway. All you need to do is learn how to stop worrying.

Sixth, understand that worrying is itself an addiction. The more you worry, the more anxious you will get. Then Headmind notices you are anxious and starts worrying again, in a vicious, unnecessary, circle.

Here are the solutions:

1. Distinguish between problems and worries. Problems are things that are happening now, not in the future. If it hasn’t happened yet, it’s not a problem. Problems are solved by checking the facts, getting advice, experimenting with solutions, and patience. Not worry.

2. When you catch yourself worrying, run the worry again in your mind, this time using the voice of an idiot. That could be Homer Simpson, it could be a politician, or it could be someone you actually know. Run it until you laugh, get bored with it, or get angry at its nonsense.

3. As soon as you hear this idiotic mind-tape or one of its ridiculous films STOP wasting time on it and immediately do something that occupies your full attention. Vigorous physical exercise, or shouting, dancing, singing and laughing are all good to do.

4. Procrastination. If the worry won’t go away then write it down and then put it in away in a drawer, promising yourself you’ll look at it in a few days. Then forget about it. I used to do this myself. Looking at those scraps of paper a week later, I couldn’t remember what the hell most of them were about.

5. Worry periods. If they are still insistent then hold 10 minute ‘worry periods’ each day until you get bored with them. This method works on reverse effort. What you do is to work very hard to worry. Get yourself worked up abut them. Imagine the most exaggerated, over-the-top, outcomes. Try and make yourself anxious. You will find that this is, in fact, extremely hard to do. Then go off and enjoy the rest of your day.

6. Practice Bodymind awareness. This is a staple of Reverse Therapy. The more time you spend ‘in’ your body the less time you will have to spend listening to Headmind mischief. It doesn’t matter which method you use – Yoga, Tai Chi, Breathing exercises, Self-massage, Feldenkreis, Alexander technique, or just being aware of your feet pushing down on the floor – just do it. Today.


2 thoughts on “Why worry?

  1. Mark McGuinness November 1, 2007 / 8:03 am

    7. Talk to a good friend who will help you put things in perspective.


  2. Kim OHara September 2, 2011 / 6:17 pm

    Worry is something I’ve mostly gotten over myself, after many long years of effort. I liked your list of tips and the one added in a comment, #7, good one. I have a slightly different take on it in my blog, Are You a Worry Wart
    Kim OHara
    Joyful Inner Self


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