What Are You So Worried About?
Worriers Believe They're Doing Good.
In a strange way, worriers believe they are doing something good by protecting ourselves and others from danger. Since our minds are filled with every conceivable risk, we wind up being right some of the time. Like hoarders who never throw anything out, worriers uses the same logic . If one item proves useful, it justifies keeping a hundred that aren't. We don't see the obvious: worrying about ninety-nine useless things is a waste of time and emotion. But until we can accept this fact, we will feel justified. Far from making a positive contribution, worriers slow things down, throw up needless obstacles, and increase anxiety in everyone else. In the end, we usually wind up being shut out and ignored. In response to being ignored, we worry even more.
The Need to Worry
Worriers feel the need to worry. If this need isn't fulfilled, we fear calamity. Who will keep things in one piece if we aren't doing the worrying that is so desperately needed? But, this obsessive behavior blocks deep insecurity by giving the mind a "solution" that feels convincing even though it is utterly false: the more I worry, the safer we will be. To turn the mind around, we must be given better reasons to not worry than to worry.
Next: How to change your worrying ways
Worried belief: The world is unsafe. It's only natural to worry.
Better belief: You can still be safe in an unsafe world. By making your personal situation safe, you add to the world's overall security.
Worried belief: Life is full of accidents and random bad things. I have to be on the lookout for them.
Better belief: Accidents can be prevented with useful measures like wearing a seat belt and not living in a flood zone. Once the precaution is in place, there's nothing more to do. By definition, unpredictable things cannot be foreseen.
Worried belief: You inherited the worry gene. You can't help it.
Better belief: You learned how to worry, so you can unlearn how to worry. It's a habit rooted in your sense of insecurity. By becoming more secure in yourself, you can gain control over your fears.
In addition, a recovering worrier should write down certain basic facts and consult the list regularly to see if their belief system is starting to match reality.
- You aren't helping the situation by worrying. You will be of greater help by pitching in on a practical basis.
- You aren't improving anyone else's life by worrying about them. To improve their lives, be supportive and appreciative.
- Not to worry is psychologically healthy. Non-worriers aren't being careless or negligent.
- Worry is a sign of deeper anxiety. It is healed by addressing that deeper level.
- Worry is making you unhappy. This is reason enough to give it up.
- Worry leads to bad decisions because they are colored by needless, unrealistic fears. If you want a better life, you need good decisions.
- Worry shuts out others who want to be close to you. The more you worry, the farther away they will go.
Worriers, like other anxious people, don't understand why their fears seemingly come out of the blue. “I wasn’t doing anything. I was having a normal day, when suddenly I was hit by this certainty that something bad was going to happen.” The hidden element is that anxious people need to be vigilant all the time. So when things settle down, it’s only a matter of time before they notice they aren't being vigilant. Anxiety jumps to the "rescue," putting them back into their familiar groove.
Next: Stop anxiety before it starts
We can simplify this by saying that for an anxious person, the mind is no friend. It is necessary, then, to turn your back on fearful thinking and stop trusting it. Learn to confront the onset of worry with the following statements to yourself:
- Fear feels convincing, but it’s only a feeling, and feelings pass.
- The situation can be dealt with.
- I need a clear decision here.
- I will look for a clear decision in myself first, then I will turn to others I can trust.
- The voice of fear is the last thing I can trust.
This doesn’t mean you should fight against your mind. “Calm down” and “There’s nothing to worry about” are useless phrases when other people try them; they are equally useless when you try them on yourself. A mind fighting with itself only adds another layer of anxiety, because when you know that fighting the fear is pointless, you feel more helpless. The way to healing is always the same: find your true self, become whole, and rise above the divided self. Even though worry is milder and less disabling than phobias or panic attacks, it's important to heal if you want to find the kind of inner peace that no one can take away from you.
Deepak Chopra is the author of more than 50 books on health, success, relationships and spirituality, including his current best-seller, Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul, and The Ultimate Happiness Prescription,which are available now. You can listen to his show on Saturdays every week on SiriusXM Channels 102 and 155.
Deepak Chopra's Strategies to Overcome Anxiety
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