Worrying: What is it Good for?
Right off the bat I have a question for you. How often do you find yourself worrying? I don’t care if it is worrying about your children, family, lover, finances, or the many other items in your life and mind.
Now just one more question. Is the worry worth it?
These are two questions that I hope linger in your minds as we dive into the topic of worry. Now lets look closer to find the possible good, bad, and purpose of worrying. As well as some ways to help smooth out this stressful process.
The Things we Worry about.
The reasons that we worry seem to be endless. Though there seems to be a common theme among this endless list of worrisome subjects. The theme is that we care about them, or we believe they are going to harm what we care for. If we didn’t care about losing something, if we didn’t feel something we cared about was threatened, what reason would we have to worry about it?
To care about something is to be emotionally invested. It is a very human thing to care. It is also quite human to worry about losing something that we care for. The world is a unpredictable place, full of unknowns that could potentially be dangerous. Our minds project a fantasy into that world of unknowns to up the survival chances of the things that have our care. Sometimes we predict well and ward off potential threats, and other times there is nothing we can do about it.
But lets back up a bit here. What is worry anyway? By clicking to read this article I am guessing that you are someone who has at some point worried. Like me, you know exactly what it feels like. You know the mind begins coming up with all sorts of stories to predict the future. I’m quite sure you also have felt the relief that comes from when the thing that’s worried about turns out to be completely fine. And you have probably had your worry be true.
To understand worry a little deeper, we need to talk briefly about it’s relationship to fear.
Worry and Fear.
At the heart of worry I see fear. I see a natural process that is preparing us for change. This energizes our creative process, accelerating our minds to problem solve and get our bodies to take action. In this process our minds and bodies are fighting change as well as preparing for the new, brewing up an incredible amount of creative energy. If the fear response is allowed to go on for too long it has negative consequences for the health of our bodies and our relationships.
You have probably heard of the bodies fight, flight or freeze response. This is a physical response in the body that is brought up by fear of potential threat. The brain begins cutting off the flow of energy to bodily processes that seem unnecessary for protecting itself from attack. That energy flows to the places in the body that will better protect us from said threat.
This response is a tricky bugger to deal with. Because the thing we are fearing, doesn’t even need to be real for it to kick up this process. Our brains and bodies can direct us to put out fires that don’t even exist. We can perceive threats that are not even there. And if we have a history of trauma, hidden internal damage can easily be mistaken as external threats.
The fear response is and has been extremely important for our species ability to move forward through time. And still important in relatively safe times today. Though for individuals that have made a habit out of worry, the response is left to lay waste to eat away at our bodies from the inside out. For not very good reasons at all.
When Worry Gets Dysfunctional.
It is difficult to look into the lives of others and say worry is dysfunctional for them. Maybe we can only figure out what type of worry is dysfunctional for ourselves.
Today I realize worry is getting out of hand when I am feeling unproductive stress and not doing much to solve the problem that my life faces. When my mind has been going in circles and the stress builds, I know I need to slow down and reevaluate my thinking. I need to find out if I am actively and productively problem solving or just driving myself crazy.
Finding Relief from Worry.
It is highly important to learn how to shut down worry. This is whether the fear and possible paranoia is about a real or imagined scenario. Even though each of these can feel equally real.
If we continue to feed the fear, threats that are not there are more likely to be dreamed up. And the longer we feed the fear the more easily it is to convince ourselves that we should be worrying. It is like a car that is stuck in mud, only digging itself in deeper when attempting to free itself.
So lets work on finding our way out of the fear of worrying to get our creative energies directed into the right places.
1. Slow down to Feel the Fear and Other Emotions Present.
The old saying is that “cooler minds prevail.” To me this means that we can find better courses of action when we slow down our fear based minds, emotions and actions. When we cut off the worrying we can find better solutions than we could while being directed by our fear. Studies have shown that when too much fear is present, our IQ’s actually shrink.
Where there is worry there is fear and there is also pain. Maybe it is pain from a loss that is anticipated but not real. Or maybe it’s the pain in ourselves that is connected to loss in the past. Whether the pain comes from anticipating our loss, re-feeling a past loss or experiencing loss in the present, it’s best to feel what is there.
Once emotion is felt, the energy that is fueling the worry just might get a chance to dissipate. Feeling these emotions isn’t always easy, there may be fear, sadness, anger, and much else to feel. This obviously isn’t going to magically fix a real fear induced situation, but it will put us in a better place to act from a more sane self. We may find that the fear we are sensing has nothing to do with the world outside ourselves.
2. Remind Ourselves of Times that Worry and Our Perceptions have been Wrong.
Have you ever worked yourself up into a mess of worry and had the relief that comes from having it not be true? I sure have. This reminds me of when I was younger and would get spooked by a shape in a dark room. Only to turn on the light and have the monster be a couple jackets hanging on the wall. Well I find this can still happen pretty easily in life, whether the fear is finances, politics or what have you. Not to say that all fears about these things are unfounded, but they don’t have to seem like such immediate dangers that have no hope.
These days I get a sense of peace from telling my worrying mind that all this fear right now may be full of crap. Reality is not always as it seems. I am truly grateful to understand that my world is much safer than my mind can lead me to believe.
3. Take Productive Action.
Worry can be a sign that some action needs to be taken. Maybe it is a clear action like getting out of the way of that moving vehicle or paying the electric bill. Though maybe the needed action is not so clear. The needed action might actually be to stop taking actions because we are creating unnecessary problems.
We need to find something to do with the energy that drives worry. If all I do is worry, I am not accomplishing a damn thing. But if I use my worry as a sign that helps me make an important change, then we are getting somewhere.
4. Let Go of the Need to Control.
Learning how to let go and trust is beautiful thing. Now I am not telling anyone to put their head in the sand, not protecting themselves and loved ones. But when we find out that we cannot do anything about the situation, we can let it go. When we find out that our worry was unfounded, we can let it go. And after we have taken the proper actions to make it through the the fearful situation, we can now let that go too.
Who in their right minds desires to stress themselves out with worry when they don’t have to. There is freedom in letting go of control.
5. Let our Trusted People Help with this Entire Process.
Talking to our trusted friends when worrying can have many benefits. They may be able to help us calm down if we can’t do that by ourselves. As well as help us come to terms with what is real in what we are fearing, and what we have some control over. They can help guide us into the next right action to take. If we are not able to come to terms with what to do on our own, we need healthy and trustworthy people to help us.
Some people run absolutely everything in their lives through the minds of those around them. This doesn’t happen to be my approach. For me I am much more comfortable doing what I can do and then enlisting the support of others when my efforts prove to not be enough. Whichever level of support you require or desire, the truth remains that healthy relationships are essential
The question I care to answer here is in the title of this article. What is worrying good for?
I cannot say that worry is good for absolutely nothing. Because there is something important happening for us when worry arises. It is telling us that something is not right with our world with a lot of energy to solve the issue.
Worry may be telling us there something wrong with our outside world or our inside world. Which one it is isn’t always so clear but by implementing the list above, you may find your way to the answer. That worry is present is an important sign to fix a problem, correct. But finding a way out of the worry is of even greater importance.
To be worrying is to be unproductively stressing out. It is a thief of creative energies when left to it’s own devices. But worry does not have control over us if we can catch ourselves in it. And it is possible to find gratitude and healthy solutions even in times where it feels uncontrollably powerful. Relieving ourselves of the habit of worry is a very real thing.
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Much Love, Travis Hagen
My Life Experiment
Hello, we are Travis and Casey Hagen the writer's and owner's of My Life Experiment. As recovering Individuals, we are no strangers to leaving behind dysfunctional ways of living. Over the years we have become adept at managing our intense mental and emotional worlds to find healing from the past, peace in the present and new ways to bring about success for our futures. There is plenty for us to share with you about finding better ways to live. So please follow us on our journey as we share what we know, and continue to share as we invitably learn more.
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