Excessive worrying is a habit. A mindset. To excessively worry is taught.
Excessive worrying is a familiar “go to”, many times defining who we are. It is stifling when not understood. It impedes us from living life to its fullest extent. This level of worry can create a false sense of security by keeping us from doing the things we should or wish we can do.
We have all heard it, “I am a worrier”, “I worry about you”, or “Don’t make me worry about you.” I have to admit I cringe when I think of the all too many times by parents would say these exact words to me. I chose to allow their words to “make me feel incredibly guilty”, and in turn, resent the “control” I felt they had over me.
What does “worry” really mean anyway?
Worry can be felt in different parts of our body. Our stomach, chest, or mind. It starts with a thought, morphs into feelings, leading to many different behaviors. When understood, worry can be work in our life in a positive way, leading us to make wise decisions in our life. For instance, worry can give us a little nudge to wash our hands more frequently and efficiently and be aware of our surroundings due to the coronavirus.
If you’re the type of person who reports you “cannot stop worrying”, it is time to stop the nonsense and train your brain to stop focusing on things you can’t control, and create new behaviors with the things you can control.
It is time to stop trying to control others as well as yourself with your excessive worrying.
10 Ways to Take Control of Worry
1. Accept the things you cannot change. Yes, accept them.
Ruminating about the outdoor 50th birthday party you have planned for a year getting rained out is useless. Conjuring up all kinds of horrific scenarios in your mind only adds fuel to the fire you have created in your mind. You can’t control Mother Nature. You can’t control most of the things you worry agonize over. All the worrying you put on yourself and others is mindless chatter and it does nothing but create turmoil and drama for all who is involved. Take a deep long breath and yourself, “Can I control this?” and if the answer is “no”, come up with a Plan B and even C and stop vacillating. This will ease your worries. Accepting the fact that you cannot control everything will lift a lot of burden from your shoulders … control the things you have control over.
2. Don’t try to guess what’s on someone’s mind.
Unless you have super powers, can read minds, or tell the future, stop creating your own story about what’s going on in another person’s mind. Stop with the anticipation and fear of going to the family Christmas celebration creating what your sister is thinking and what she is going to say to you. Who cares what she is thinking? Contemplating and assuming what someone is thinking is on you. You can stop this negative senseless babble you have with yourself. You have the choice not to get yourself worked up in a frenzy over assuming what others might be thinking.
You can’t control other people. All you can do is control yourself, and it begins with changing your own thoughts.
Trying to assume what’s on someone’s mind is most of the time useless and a waste of energy. Our mind is capable of creating scenarios that are both exaggerated and sometimes, even dangerous. If we let our minds dwell and obsess on these mental pictures, our thoughts become feelings – leading us to hop on the familiar irrational roller-coaster ride that is way too familiar.
Spend time talking to yourself in a positive way.
“I can’t control other people”.
“I can only control my own thoughts and actions”.
“I can control my reactions to others”.
“I will find a calm place in my own thoughts and remain there”.
“I will not lower myself to behave in hurtful ways to myself or others”.
“I do have the power to leave, exit, or defer the conversation”.
“I will not allow myself to strike out in a hateful way”.
“I am better than/above the situation I am faced with”.
Instead of worrying, you might want to approach the person you have issue with immediately to know what he or she is really thinking. Own your stuff and allow them to actually talk. This will save you a lot of time and trouble down the road.
3. Spend more time in the present moment.
We all have a past. Our past includes the good, bad, and the ugly. Our past encompasses many different facets of our present life. Remembering our past can trigger a wide variety of thoughts and emotions. We have a choice in what and how we remember our memories.
Reminiscing about the past from time to time can be a healthy way of connecting to ourself. We all make a decision in how we remember our past. We make the decision in the memories we hold on to and revisit from time to time. How we deal with the memories is what is important. Spending too much time in the past (loss or regret) can cause you to go down a deep dark rabbit hole that proves to be difficult to find your way out of. Spending too much time dwelling on the positive elements of your past can stifle you in a different way. Both causing you to not appreciate and embrace the present.
Remember the past and appreciate what you learned from it. Utilize your thoughts in a way to practice awareness, gratitude and acceptance for the lessons learned and move forward.
Ruminating in the past (positive and negative) can cause you to feed into your worries and comparing your present life to the past. When you spend too much time in the past, your thoughts can lead you to disastrous scenarios. Take the positive and leave the negative. Live in the present, take the time to savor the moment, breathe, and enjoy what your past has to offer you today.
4. Let go of control.
Ouch. This is an extremely difficult thing to do for most of us to do. Let go of control and what? Passively sit on our lazy butts and watch everything go down in flames? If we are not in control, it can’t possibly end in a positive result. We are needed by others to teach, guide, nurture, direct, lead, and nobody can do it as well as we can.
We all deep down know s___ happens. We can’t control everything in life. We are not in charge of the universe but we try like hell at times to control it anyway.
Life has a way of totally catching us off guard. We are not prepared nor are we expected to be. We expect ourselves to be “on it” at all times and if we are not, we have failed miserably.
The opposite of control is submission and trust. Submitting and trusting a process we can’t control is is terrifying at times, especially when we have no idea what the journey or outcome will consist of.
Submitting or trusting the process allows us to take a minute, breathe, and believe in something bigger than we are. It forces us to pass the baton to a higher power and feel a sense of peace that many of us have never experienced.
5. Don’t be vain.
Self-importance is a common cause of worry for a lot of people, not only for the younger generation but for many adults.
Vanity is a silent killer because you will never win. There will always be someone smarter, prettier, more handsome, buffer, skinnier, more successful, wealthier, happier, and so on…
We worry about what people think of us. Yes, we do. We worry endlessly that we might not meet society’s expectations; we worry about whether people will like us or not. With this mental outlook, we start to give too much importance to our ego; it means we are constantly looking for appreciation and the admiration of others. If we don’t get this appreciation, we start to worry that we are not good enough,
Self-confidence does not come from others’ views. It comes from achieving things we never thought we could achieve. Hard work. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Setting your own goals. Not basing your thoughts and actions on the perfect picture construed ideal you have created in your mind.
Put down your phone. Stop wasting time reading all of the insignificant fictious posts.
6. Talk to a friend.
Okay girls, women need women. We need women to talk to, vent, and ramble. Men do not need or want to hear your every worry or concern. Other women generally can share their thoughts and you will tend to accept them where a guy can say the same thing to you and you become defensive.
Straight, gay, trans, boy, or girl, when you worry about something, it is very important to have someone to talk to so that your worries will not plague your mind. If you have a close friend, discuss with them what’s going on. Just the thought that someone is listening and understanding where you’re coming from often eases your worry. Vent and let it go.
Most of the time, after talking to someone, you will realize in the end that what you’re stressed out about is probably not that important.
7. Step away from social media.
Do not feed the fire. If it causes you negative and painful feelings, stop going back! Many times, social media, despite its many advantages, can intensify our worries. If you tend to compare yourself to others on social media, you are only setting yourself up for feelings of inadequacy and low self-worth.
Pretty simple. Find something productive to do rather than torture and feel sorry yourself or wallow in your misery and self-inflicted pain.
8. Write down your worries.
Writing or journaling is good therapy. When you’re in the midst of worrying, try writing everything down. Begin with a THOUGHT and learn how to recognize how this leads to a feeling. From this feeling identify the behaviors you have repeated over and over again – leading to self-sabotage.
This practice or routine will prove to not only offer you a sense of peace but an instrument to discover how your thoughts are leading you to the negative familiar place you want to avoid.
Just like anything worthwhile, journaling takes time, effort, consistency, commitment, and willingness to the process it will provide for you.
9. Change your perspective.
Energy flows where you focus your attention. Understand that you can choose to focus on positive rather than negative thoughts. You can change your perspective by breaking out of the “go to” attitude, thoughts, and perspectives you have gradually known to be your truth.
It is a choice to be positive and optimistic. It takes work and awareness to recognize your negative thoughts and change them.
You can train your brain to be calm and composed and look toward the positive and refuse the negative.
10. Find the correct facts.
Facts and opinions. Many times, it is difficult to distinguish between the two.
We spend days worrying and realize in the end that the thing we are worrying about is actually not true. If you are human, you have experienced this.
Learn to ask yourself, “Is this a fact or an opinion?” Example: “Your dad is an ass” is an opinion. “Your dad is not in our life” is a fact.
We worry when we rely on or trust others’ opinions. Actually, it is easier to assume an opinion is a fact so we don’t have to take the time to dig deep inside ourselves and form our own opinions. More times than not, when you do dig deep, you realize there is not a reason to worry and you feel more secure, confident, and safe.
Interested in more? I would love to meet to you! Email or call anytime to schedule an in-person or virtual session. (817) 701-5438 | firstname.lastname@example.org
CRT, CCDC, CACC | Counselor & Life Coach