Is it possible to stop worrying? If you’re stuck in a loop of constant or excessive worry, you can change it and take back control of your thoughts. Check out these tips to learn how to stop worrying for good.
What is Worry?
Worry is a pattern of repetitive thinking that causes anxiety over a situation without solving or providing a solution to it.
The Problems With Worrying
One of the problems with worry is that it changes your self-image. It helps you to see yourself as powerless. This prevents you from using the power that you do have. In any given situation, you have more options than you may realize.
Worry can mask a fear of making a mistake or doing something wrong. Nobody’s perfect, but trying to be can cause you to get stuck in a loop of indecision and anxiety.
Worry also keeps you focused on the future instead of becoming active in the present. You create your future by what actions you take (or fail to take) in the present.
Three Types of Worry
There are three main types of worry:
Productive or useful worry
A productive or useful worry is planning ahead to think of and resolve potential problems before they start. They help you to protect yourself and loved ones and make your life run smoother. However, just thinking about possible solutions but failing to take action on those solutions (for whatever reason) just creates unproductive worry.
Worry over things you can’t control
Worrying about things you can’t control keeps you stuck in a loop of powerlessness. When examined, it can also show you other areas in your life where you feel powerless so that you can change them.
Worries triggered by past events
Some worries are triggered by past events. Your subconscious mind constantly looks for ways to protect you. It does this by scanning your past experiences and memories and steering you away from anything that appears threatening or potentially dangerous. Unfortunately, this also includes any positive life changes you may be trying to make.
For example, imagine building a house. You’re worried that the roof will leak, that your friends will not approve of it and that an avalanche may bury the house.
Productive or Unproductive?
A productive or useful worry is that the roof will leak. From this, you can make sure to build a strong roof with quality materials and inspect it to make sure that it works properly.
An unproductive worry is to get stuck trying to decide between different types of roofing material and never get around to putting on the roof.
A worry over things that you cannot control is the worry that your friends will not approve of it. You can’t control what anyone else thinks. However, this worry can show you an area in your life that you may want to make changes. Do your friends generally not approve of you or your choices? Notice any old patterns. Do you feel that you need their approval? Do you feel powerless to change any other areas in your life?
A worry triggered by past events is the worry that an avalanche may bury the house. Suppose that you narrowly survived an avalanche as a child. Even though the new house is far away from snowy mountains and you know that the likelihood of an avalanche is nearly impossible, the worry still remains. But is this worry helping you now? Or is it taking your focus and energy away from practical things that will bring you closer to creating what you want?
How to Stop Worrying
Worry is a habit and pattern of thinking. You learned how to worry – most likely when you were a child – and you can train yourself to stop worrying.
First of all, accept where you are right now. Just accept the fact that you are worrying about something. You don’t have to like it, just accept that the situation currently exists. That doesn’t mean you can’t change it, it just means that you accept that it is.
By accepting it as it is, you allow yourself to see alternatives. When you are fighting and resisting the situation, all of your energy is in fighting against it instead of taking steps to get where you want to go.
Write It Down
Write down all of the worries that you have about the situation. Don’t edit it, just write it down. Write down exactly what you’re thinking. Put it on paper to give yourself some distance from it.
Now go over what you have written. Take each one and notice what type of worry it is.
- Are you worrying about things you can’t control?
- Are some of your worries triggered by old memories?
- Or are any useful worries bothering you because you don’t know what steps you need to take to resolve them?
Look for any patterns.
Next, think of the outcome you want. Working backward, write down the steps you need to take to get there. If you’re not sure of all the steps right now, just write down the ones that come to mind. Take note of any areas where you need to research or gather additional information.
Plan ahead. Think of and resolve potential problems before they start. Move forward with your plan. Remain flexible enough to change directions as you gain more information. Many times, additional options only show up once you’ve started taking action.
Remember that you can choose how you look at the situation. You can choose different ways to handle the situation. You can try one option. If it doesn’t work, then simply try another.
Worrying keeps your focus on what you don’t want to happen. Consciously shift your focus to your desired goal. When worries come up, look at them as simple stepping stones. They are small tasks to resolve along the way. Look at each step as a learning process. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about reaching the goal that you desire.
Noticing and becoming aware of your worry habits are crucial to break the chain. You regain control of your thoughts by noticing what you’re thinking, recognizing your worry patterns and taking steps to actively change your focus and create the life you want.