What, Me Worry?

…or “Is Worry Simply An Illusion?”

With fond and respectful deference to Alfred E Neuman, figurehead symbol of Mad Magazine. 

OK, it’s a trick question.  Yes, worry is an illusion.

Worrying has no function and serves no purpose. Through the process of worry, we trick ourselves into believing we have more control over others and the world than we really do.

Somehow, and this is the incredibly illogical part, we convince ourselves that if we worry about something ‘enough,’ we can keep it from happening. That’s the illusion of worry.

  • Worrying about the weather does not keep it from raining.
  • Worrying about earning enough to keep up appearances won’t make us richer.
  • Worrying about our weight won’t make us lose it.
  • Worry what others are thinking about us won’t change their view, if “they” have one at all.
  • Worry about worst-case scenarios won’t make them least likely scenarios.
  • Worrying about our kids wont of itself make them turn out OK.
  • Worrying about someone else’s problem doesn’t ease their burden.
  • Worry about death won’t stop the inevitable process of ageing and dying.
  • Worry when flying that the plane will crash will not keep it from crashing.
  • Worry about the anxiety you have will only increase it.
  • Worry about leaving your house does not make you safer.
  • Worry about aging does not make you younger.
  • Worrying about the future does not change it.
  • Worry about your past won’t give you a happier childhood.

Worry not only saps your energy, but can trigger as many as 1500 biochemical and physiological processes within your body that are generally anything but helpful. Read my article on that here.

So why do we buy into the worry cycle?  Well, that’s because its a form of anxiety.  That,  of itself, is a big subject that you might care to explore on my Anxiety Pages, or in my article series specifically discussing that subject.

The answer regarding the “why” question is that we choose to.

What Worry Can Do For You

If you use worry as an alert—an awareness—that leads you to problem solving, then it can be useful. If you think of it as a signal to point something out to yourself that you can resolve, improve or change for the better—than it can be a good thing.

Use worry as a signal—just a signal, like the noise of a text message coming through, for example.

Worrying about not exercising will not make you fit, but using the thought as a signal to find ways to solve that problem will be useful.

Worrying that you might lose your job will not keep you from losing it: but you can use it as an awareness to be prepared. It might trigger you to think more carefully about how you demonstrate and achieve effectiveness in your role. You can alternatively use it as motivation to get your resume redone, start searching. networking with recruiters and looking for other available jobs now.

Worrying that your marriage is in trouble will not make things better, but if you use it as a signal to be more present and engaged at home, to get help from a professional or start a conversation with your partner, it can serve a function.

So decide which kind of worry you’re having. Is it something you can problem-solve after being made aware? Or is it something you have no control over?

If you have no control over the outcome, then worrying is a total waste of your energy, your time, your thoughts and your feelings.

So LET IT GO. Let go of what you cannot control.

Make the decision to move on! Move away from that illusion that you can control something or someone else, outside of yourself.

The power to change something is in YOU. Let go of the rest.

You cannot prevent aging or planes crashing or unexpectedly getting laid off from your job. You cannot control terrorism by worrying about it. You cannot choose who your children choose to marry (at least in our society), or whether or not politicians lie to us. You can’t control the locking of your front door by worrying about whether or not you did that this morning.

But you can go back and make sure the door is locked. You can run for political office, you can find a way to lose weight, you can stop smoking, you can get out of a bad relationship, you can get a second job, you can limit the technology use of your children (or yourself) in your home by taking away the phones.

Sometimes we keep old thoughts even when we don’t need them anymore. Some things cannot be undone: we know that we won’t fall of the edge of the world when we sail out to sea. We know that tomatoes are not poisonous and toads cannot create warts, or that just believing we can fly doesn’t make it so. But…

Worry used as awareness is a gift – allowing you to foresee that change in the future and to enjoy noticing what changes do occur.

Worry is also a form of Anxiety, the most common condition I treat in my practice.  Why not check out my pages on Stress, Anxiety and Depression.

Explore ways that Clinical Hypnotherapy can help you deal with unnecessary worry, and harness the positive power it can bring to your life, if managed and harnessed correctly.

Contact me via email, or call me directly if you think your worry is getting out of hand, and let’s do something about it.

Paul Mullins