March 9, 2015

Good With Me: Sick With Worry

Worry might not be what you think it is. It doesn’t just happen. Thinking causes worry. Worry starts with a single negative thought. But it soon becomes a habit for those who continue to engage in negative thinking. It is the habit of thinking about all the worst possible outcomes.

The dictionary defines worry as a state or condition causing one to feel troubled or uneasy about some uncertain or threatening matter. What the dictionary fails to tell us is that it is the way worriers think about the uncertain or threatening matter that causes them to feel troubled or uneasy—not the uncertain or threatening matter itself.

stop-worryingWorry happens like this. You start thinking about a future anticipated event or situation. The event or situation can be anything. It could be a blind date, starting a new job, riding a horse for the first time, going out to dinner by yourself, flying in an airplane, deep-sea diving, divorce, home foreclosure, bankruptcy, being fired from a job, or any other life event you can possibly imagine. You begin thinking about some kind of dreadful outcome that in reality might or might not occur. That kind of thinking creates troubled or uneasy feelings that are generally known as “worry.”


Unfortunately for all worriers, worry is the most futile emotion anyone can have. Logically thinking, what does it accomplish? Nothing at all. People can make themselves “sick with worry,” but it doesn’t change anything.

Worry doesn’t make anyone look good, make anyone right, control the opinions of others, or control the way situations turn out. Worry is not an action. Nothing is resolved by worrying because worrying in and of itself does nothing. Let’s use starting a new job as an example of worry being the result of thinking. All the following individuals are starting the same new job, yet each one is thinking differently about it.

Individual #1 is excited about starting this new job because she looks forward to doing something she is passionate about.

Individual #2 is thinking about how this job will be a great steppingstone to move him forward on his career path.

Individual #3 views the job with trepidation because he is afraid his skills are not adequate for the position. He worries that someone might find out.

Individual #4 is dreading the job because she took a position doing something she doesn’t want to do, just for a paycheck.

Individual #5 is upset about the starting wage and worried about making ends meet on so little pay.

Individual #6 is extremely grateful for the opportunity to have a job, no matter how much it pays.

Individual #7 is worried about what his coworkers will think of him.

Individual #8 is thinking about ways to prove her abilities to the corporate executives and impress them with her knowledge and experience.

Which of the above examples do you identify with? Are you able to see that it is your thinking and not the situation that creates your worry? Write about it.

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Patricia Noll

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