Updated: Aug 10, 2021
Worry... Worry... Worry...
Worry or "what if" thinking, is when your mind thinks of things that have gone wrong or could go wrong. It can feel like your mind is moving fast. Worry thoughts tend to create more worry thoughts and you may even notice that you begin to worry about how much you are worrying! Yikes!
So let's *pause* just for a moment. This next thing I'm about to say is possibly unexpected: Our minds are designed to wonder, "How did that go wrong!?" and "What if something bad happens!?". This thinking allows us to learn from negative experiences, anticipate dangers and choose safer ways forward.
Dr. Rick Hanson (Psychologist, Author and Mindfulness expert) says:
“Your brain is like Velcro for negative experiences but Teflon for positive ones”.
The good news is that the brain's in-built negativity bias is actually not the problem. The problem with worry is when we get stuck in it, go over and over the same things, and struggle to see a way forward.
Stress in the body
Whatever your experience of worry is, it's likely that you felt energised in your body. People often call that feeling "stressed" or "anxiety". You may notice things like your heart racing, tense muscles, faster and shallow breathing, or a dry mouth.
Time to *pause* again. I have something else to say that is possibly unexpected: Stress is your body's way of signaling its time to get ready to take action! Stress and anxiety are normal reactions that prepare your body to deal with danger.
Rising to the challenge
Kelly McGonigal (Psychologist, Author, Educator) recommends changing the way we think about stress. What if you began to see stress as helpful and an opportunity to "rise to this challenge"? What if you you stepped back and connected the dots between what you fear and what really matters to you? What if worry didn't win and instead you focused that energy on finding a way forward?
Next time worry comes up, choose to do something helpful like:
Pause and connect to the moment.
Say "Hello, here's worry" and write down your concerns.
Consider your options. Come up with a plan to help move forward.
Give yourself some kindness and compassion if you can't solve it.
Connectfully offers psychology sessions to support you to develop skills to move from surviving to thriving. Need to reset your mindset, skillset or toolset, then get in touch!
Content Sources / Inspirations:
"Do Positive Experiences Stick to your ribs?" Take in the Good blog by Dr. Rick Hanson (https://www.rickhanson.net/take-in-the-good/)
TEDTalk "How to make stress your friend" by Dr. Kelly McGonigal (https://www.ted.com/talks/kelly_mcgonigal_how_to_make_stress_your_friend?language=en)
The Struggle Switch by Dr Russ Harris, ACT Mindfully (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCp1l16GCXI)
DNA-v training by Dr. Lousie Hayes.
Other readings, resources and experiences that have shaped how I think.