Today, I’m being totally transparent. I am a worrier. Yes, you read that correctly. My natural tendency is to stress about the future and worry about stuff I can’t control. It’s annoying, and I wish worry wasn’t my default. But it is.
Luckily though, as a psychologist, I’ve got a lot of tools to help me manage worry. And today, I’m sharing one of my go to strategies. It’s been a game changer for me, and if you’re a chronic worrier, you’re going to want to hear this. Watch below!
For years, I’ve known that being a chronic worrier isn’t particularly productive. But in recent months, I’ve started to realize just how much time I waste worrying. Can you relate? Do you stress about stuff you can’t control? Do you worry about things that never even come to fruition? Seriously. How many hundreds of hours do you think you’ve spent across your life on useless worry?
If the answer to that question kind of scares you, then this post is for you! I’m sharing a simple trick for cracking down on useless worry. Here’s how to do it.
When you find yourself worrying about something, ask yourself these two important questions.
1. “How is worrying about this going to help me? What is worrying about this going to change?” Now, don’t just ask this question rhetorically or with sarcasm. Honestly ask it. Really try to answer it. (Trust me, when I do this, I’m looking for every reason in the book to justify my worry.) So ask that question, “How is worrying about this going to help me?” Then, ask the next question.
2. “What is worrying about this going to cost me? How is this going to impact me? This question really taps into the cost of worry. How much time and energy will you spend on the issue? How will you feel after worrying? Will it distract you? Drain you? Discourage you? Think about all the energy you’re going to spend on the issue.
Then, look at those the answers to those two questions. Weigh the costs and the benefits, and decide whether or not you want to continue worrying about it. If so, cool, let the worry continue. And if not, then use a mantra and some coping skills to move that worry to the side, redirecting your attention to what you’re supposed to be focusing on. (PS: If you’re a chronic worrier, you’ll find this mantra and this statement super helpful in redirecting your attention.)
In the video, I shared a recent example from my own life, highlighting how I used these questions during a recent moment of worry.
These two questions allow you to do a cost and benefit analysis, making an informed decision about your worry and whether or not you want to continue. And if you’re a chronic worrier, I think you’ll find this approach much more effective than just telling yourself, “Worrying isn’t helpful.” (Because as true as that may be, it’s hard for your worrying brain to really buy into.) So by asking these questions, and really weighing the costs and benefits, you’re helping your brain really walk through the process of making an informed decision.
Remember, we don’t have always control over what happens in our lives, but we do have a say in how we respond. So choose to work through your worry with these two questions, redirecting your attention when you’ve decided the worry isn’t actually productive. (Sidenote: In the hundreds of times I’ve gone through this exercise, I’ve yet to find a time when worrying was worth it.)
Next time you find yourself worrying, ask yourself these two questions. 1. How is worrying about this going to be helpful or change anything? And 2. What is worrying about this going to cost me?
Get your answers, weigh your options, and proceed accordingly.
So give this little thought process a try a let me know how it goes!