It's natural to mull things over in our minds. Weigh up different options or potential outcomes.
It can be both a benefit and a curse of being a human. To be able to imagine different versions of the future.
But if we do this incessantly. We feel it's too much. We can't control it. If it interferes with our sleep, causes muscles to feel tense, or head to ache, and our stomachs to feel unsettled, then perhaps it's too much. It also causes our emotions to be all over the place.
If we are weighing up options in a realistic and reasonable way, then this type of thinking is problem solving or decision making.
If we're thinking about how we're going to tackle a problem and ordering how we might go about that, then that thought process, if it's proportionate, reasonable realistic could more likely be a planning or organising type thought process. Rather than worry.
If we wonder if someone is okay, we are expressing a natural human concern.
Or similarly, if we might like things to be done in a certain way, and we think we would prefer them that way. These are all very natural, unusual thoughts. We might check something, or someone, is okay. However, if you suddenly become aware that you've spent the last half an hour thinking about them. Then this could be seen as out of control or excessive.
Or you keep coming back to the same issue over and over. And you're not getting anywhere.
Or you feel frustrated with yourself because no matter how much you've thought about it (whatever that ‘it’ is) you haven't gotten any further forward. Then this isn't productive thinking. This is worry.
The definition of worry is “A future focused, negatively charged, sticky thought process”.
So, can worry ever be useful?
I say it isn't. It gives us something to do but gets us nowhere.
It's like a rocking chair. It can also feel comforting. We often don't want to give it up.
Which is fine if you're happy to while away hours thinking about something and not doing anything. If you have that time to spare, that's fine. But most of us we have busy lives with lots to do. Lots we must get on with.
Worry in these cases is never helpful. Anxiety and Worry are often used interchangeably, to understand further click here.
So, what can we do instead about this?
We can recognise when we are starting to ask ourselves ‘what if…?’ questions.
If we notice ourselves thinking ‘what if…?’ more than twice in a short space of time it is an indication that we are worried.
For example, someone who is worrying might think:
‘What if I make a spelling mistake? Then people might not think I know what I’m talking about. Then, what if they don’t trust what I’m saying?’
In cases such as this we switch the ‘F’ to a ‘S’.
Instead of saying ‘What if…?’ We swapped switch that out to ‘What is…?’
‘What if I make a spelling mistake? Becomes ‘What is it I need to do to show people I know what I’m talking about?
And instead of ‘What if they don’t trust what I’m saying?’ We think ‘What is it I can do to help people trust me?’
This simple swap allows us to change our perspective from looking at what might go wrong, to what you can do to resolve any issues. Is a solution focused and so it feels a lot more positive, less anxiety provoking and a lot more likely to get you doing what you need to do. Instead of spending ages worrying about it.
What do you think? Are you going to try it?
Are you going to do something instead of worrying about it?
Did you know that you can take back control by letting go? Click here to learn more.
Let me know in the comments.
Until next time, take care.