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Worry and Anxiety

Posted Dec 09 2010 8:07pm

Worry

 

 

I have found that worrying is probably the most universal form of self-sabotage. It is a worst case scenario, fear-based, self-destructive mind-set.  Focused on perceived potential problems or dangers, it projects perceived limitations of self, or worst case scenario into the future. What happens when we go out into the future Pseudo orienting in time, our mind does not know it is not happening; instead we get all the attending feelings as if what we fear is true and happening in the moment hence, we go into flight and fight response  (fear and anxiety)

 Chronic worrying not only generates unease, anxiety, and fear, but can also limit clear thinking and perception, block creativity, and result in inefficiency and inaction. Despite the fact that many people are aware that worry is wasted mental energy, they often continue to worry because they perceive it to be beneficial on some level.

 

Worrying typically has its roots in outdated protective strategies adopted in childhood. Some people began worrying as children as a form of hyper-vigilance, usually arising from an emotionally unstable family environment. Worry may also have been used to envision possible future scenarios in order to prevent, avoid, or protect from unpredictable negative experiences. These strategies are fundamentally grounded in childhood feelings of powerlessness, self-doubt, and lack of self-confidence in one's ability to deal with life.

 

Worrying may also have been employed as a strategy to protect against the rejection and hurt associated with making mistakes. In childhood, some people were humiliated, blamed, or punished when they made an error. They did not learn that mistakes can be a part of growth and change. Rather, they learned to associate making mistakes with experiencing pain. As a result, worrying may have been developed as an attempt to avoid making future errors.

 

As children, some people subconsciously internalized their parents' worried mind-sets and beliefs. When I was young, my parents worried constantly, and I subconsciously adopted their anxious perspective as my own. The behavior modeled by my parents led me to believe that thinking and worrying were synonymous with being a good parent so when I had children I worried about them. A client came to see me to address her feelings of constant agitation at work. In her session, she discovered that her demanding father had only believed she was trying hard at her homework when she appeared to be worrying about it. As a result, she had subconsciously equated worrying with trying her best, and this limiting belief had been manifesting ever since.

 

Worry is so universally pervasive that many people take it for granted as a normal part of who they are. Upon conscious reflection, many of my clients report that more than half of their waking hours are consumed by worry. They also find that their sleep is disturbed by worry-filled dreams. No wonder they typically report feeling fatigued and worn out! Compulsive worrying is mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically exhausting. Not only can worry snowball into nervousness, anxiety, and even depression, it can also manifest physiologically in symptoms such as compromised immune function, insomnia, fatigue, headaches, body tension, teeth grinding, nail biting, and increased blood pressure. Constant worrying can interfere with one's ability to think clearly, inhibit decision-making, and tie up inner resources such as creativity (used to concoct many possible future scenarios), analysis (used to interpret these scenarios), and concentration (required to focus on these scenarios), etc.

 

Although worrying can be self-defeating and destructive, it often persists unabated because many people consciously and/or subconsciously believe that worrying is beneficial. One easy way to reveal your beliefs about worrying is to consider what you think would happen if you stopped worrying. Common responses I hear are, "If I didn't worry, it would mean I was cold and callous and didn't care about my family" or "If I didn't worry, I would just let everything go and my life would be chaotic."As these examples indicate, worrying has been falsely equated with being loving, caring, responsible, and in control. Worrying has also been mistaken for planning, problem-solving, analyzing, learning, and self-improvement. In truth, however, worry is none of the above. Worry is simply worry.

 

Chronic worrying is symptomatic of underlying limiting beliefs and deeply held automatic patterns entrenched in the subconscious mind. When these fear-based beliefs are healed, self-confidence, creativity, and self-trust are restored. All of the personal talents, abilities, and qualities that have been blanketed by worry can be liberated, making it possible for people to think more clearly, see more options, experience being more in command of them, and live more fully. Freed from the emotional and mental burdens of worrying, people can embrace the present and face the future with greater inner security, knowing they can rise to any occasion, come what may. 

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