“I am a worrier.”
That’s something that I used to say all the time. You know, “Hi, my name is Kaitlyn and I worry a lot.” Ok, maybe I don’t walk around formally presenting myself in that manner. But, if you know me well, I have probably told you once or 100 times that I worry often and I can’t help myself.
Raise your hand if you worry a lot, too!… ok, I knew I wasn’t alone.
The reason I said I used to say “I am a worrier” is because it is something I am working on right now as I continue on my personal development journey. I’ve learned that it doesn’t help, at all, to focus on my worrying tendencies. In fact, when that happens, I often worry myself into a deeper hole of, “oh my goshhhh, but what if THIS happens”!? It’s all a snowball effect.
- Now, I am not talking about serious worries in life where health and safety is at risk for you or a loved one. This article is for those of you who worry about…
- That meeting with your boss you have tomorrow—and you have no clue what it is about (but, of course, it MUST be bad… right?).
- Or, worrying that someone is mad at you because you’re not getting love on your social media from them or someone hasn’t returned your text or call in a timely manner.
You might even have worries about how people perceive your sense of style on a day you tried to be “trendy” and you feel like people are totally judging those shoes that are so not you.
Ok, some of these might seem minor to you. But, to people who worry, their fears about the future are legit and can greatly affect their mindset that day.
>>Related: Start Your Personal Help Journey – 5 Steps
What is Worrying?
Worrying is a nervous feeling of over-concern that someone gets when thinking about their future. Often, the focus is not on facts, yet on ideas of what might happen in the future. Usually, worries can start with one idea that makes someone feel uneasy and then that snowballs into a handful or a hundred of other worrisome thoughts. This commonly leads to stress and anxiety.
People who worry tend to go into a mode where their environment and people around them pose as a threat. Maybe, they think people are talking about them. Or, that something negative is bound to happen at an event. Regardless, worriers tend to think on a loop and the thoughts are hard to stop once they begin flowing.
>>Related: 7 Ways to Deal with Stress & Anxiety
What Causes Worry?
When a person begins to think a worrisome thought, research has revealed that our brain is wired to:
- First—FEEL as a reaction to our thoughts.
- Second—THINK and rationalize our thoughts.
In our brains, we have a section called the amygdala, which takes in and assesses stimuli before other parts of the brain can actually think things through logically (how annoying!?).
Therefore, instead of being able to think a worrisome thought and quickly realize how bogus it is, our brains, instead, throw a noisy party in our heads. This mental party is filled with an enormous amount of ridiculous, uninvited thoughts that somehow become our false-reality. There is so much noise going on in our brains that we have trouble focusing on actively assessing our thoughts in logical ways. Instead, we feel alllllll the feels.
You know those times when someone asks you to do something you don’t want to do, but you say “yes” out of guilt and feelings of obligation? That’s due to a worrying mind. Someone might ask if you can help out at a non-obligatory charity event being hosted… tomorrow. They want you to fill in for someone who couldn’t come last minute.
I mean, come on… you have to do it! It’s for a charity! If you don’t do it, people will think you’re selfish. Then, no one will ever think of you again when they need a helping hand. People will begin to talk about you behind your back. I mean, you only had plans to watch The Real Housewives and get some cleaning done.
Your feelings take over first. Rational thinking comes second.
Is Worrying Inherited?
Although the study mentioned above reveals that we don’t have total control on how our thoughts are initially analyzed by our brains, it doesn’t mean we have no control at all. Much of worrying is a learned behavior and, in fact, is not a genetic trait that you can inherit. So, although your parents might have been chronic worriers themselves, you received their worrying traits through their teachings.
Therefore, you have a choice! You can choose to continue riding the worry train where it quickly passes life by and many things are distant and make-believe. Or you can actively make moves to learn how to control and tame your worrying thoughts.
Below is a list of five reasons why you should actively work to retrain your worrying mind.
5 Reasons to Stop Worrying About the Future
1. Worrying won’t change your future
How many times have you thought to yourself, “Wow! I am so happy I spent so much time worrying about (fill in the blank).” Eh, I bet that doesn’t happen often. Whether you believe your destiny is mapped out for you or not, the fact is, life is going to happen. Simply worrying about the “might happens” is a stagnant response. Instead, actually DO something to take some control of the situation. Can’t do anything? Well, what’s the point of obsessively thinking about it, anyway? You’re not going to control the future with your mind.
2. Worrying makes you unproductive
Worry takes time out of your day. Even if you are actively moving around and doing things (i.e. working out, studying, working at your job), you’re not actually focused on what you’re doing. You become a zombie in your own life and are missing out on what’s around you. Do you really think you’re having a good workout… memorizing facts and terms well while studying… or doing your best work at your job when you fill your time with worry? No way. Your focus on these tasks significantly drops and you’re left feeding all of your energy to the beast of worry.
3. Worrying robs you of the beauties of life
Do you ever spend a 20+ minute ride in your car alone worrying about the future? I know I have many times. While you’re spending time thinking about situations or circumstances that haven’t even occurred, you’re missing out on life. That beautiful sunrise on the horizon, your favorite song coming on your Spotify shuffle, or that funny “phony crank call” skit that aired on the radio. It might even be the smell of the air as you drive with your windows cracked open on a crisp spring morning or the scent of the coffee in your cupholder. All missed due to your ever worrying noodle.
4. Worrying turns you into a poor decision maker
Yes, a little worry is good when it comes to decisions. Worrying helps keep us safe from harmful circumstances and choices. But, when you worry you often take longer to make a decision in comparison to those who worry much less. Therefore, you could miss out on an opportunity that is time-sensitive. You focus on allllllll the negative things that could happen. Then, even after you make a decision, you often worry that you made the WRONG decision. Many times, making a risky decision gets you places in life. The worrier is left in the dust living in a world of complacency surrounded by warm and fuzzy comfort zones.
5. Worrying makes you less confident
Ok, this one might be hard to stomach if you are a worrier. But, when you worry often it shows you have low self-esteem and confidence. Why? You are not confident in yourself that you can handle the future. Think of all of the times that you worried something was going to happen and… GOODNESS… how would you deal with it? Sometimes, those fears actually come true. Guess what? You survive them! Letting go of worry allows you to begin to believe in yourself. It shapes your abilities to make decisions, stick with them, and actually deal with whatever situations comes towards you in the future.
What are your thoughts on worrying?
Share in the comments below!