The Worst Advice for Worriers (and some good)
There are many people out there who have anxiety or just worry too much about things. If you are one of those people, you have probably heard some of the following “advice:”
“Just think positive thoughts.”
“There is nothing to worry about.”
“Everything will be fine.”
“You need to believe in yourself.”
“Let’s just get your mind off it.”
If you are like a lot of worriers, this kind of advice is not only useless, but probably annoys you and makes you feel more depressed. After all, if this is the best advice that you can get, then things must be worse than you thought.
So let’s delve into some these statements and figure out why they are really awful.
Be More Positive
Sounds good, but you won’t believe yourself if you start to act like you are optimistic. In fact, you might actually think that if you try to be optimistic you will let your guard down and overlook some overbearing danger you haven’t noticed yet.
Believe in Yourself
Once again, this does indeed sound very encouraging, but exactly how are you going to do this? You do believe in yourself….that is to say, in your ability to predict disaster. You think you are being realistic. That’s what you believe. And you can’t just snap your fingers and say, “I believe in myself. I have confidence.” Total crockery..and you know it.
Wouldn’t it be absolutely fantastic if you could do it? You can’t, obviously. In fact, if you try to suppress your thoughts they will bounce back even more forcefully. This leads into the next one.
Get Your Mind Off It
If I tell you not to think of a white bear, what exactly are you thinking of right now?
I mean, we should appreciate those folks in our lives for trying. I know I have worried some in the past, but I also have committed these crimes of language myself to people in my life. Understand that you are not alone, close to 40% of the world worries every day. The good news is there are definitely methods out there to reverse your worrying and regain control of your life.
I am in the process working with a few folks in writing a book about this exact thing. How to live with anxiety and worrying: Whether it’s you or a loved one. Hopefully it should be published by the end of the year. Here is a small tidbit from it:
We all get scared sometimes. But why? The simple fact of the matter is that humans are innately terrified of what we do not know. Uncertainty. We have trained ourselves as a species to equate not knowing something with a bad outcome. “I don’t know if I will fail, therefore I probably will.” You strive for certainty. It’s why so many of us are afraid of the dark or ghosts. You can’t see what’s there. It’s SOMETHING…but you don’t know.
We fear death because we do not know what comes after. There is no proof, no certainty. We fear things we haven’t tried before because we do not know how it will make us feel. We fear heights because we are afraid of falling…that feeling of not being able to control your body’s direction in space. That job interview? Will you get the job?
You google every single possibility to get that sure answer. But you never find it. The fear slowly creeps up in the back of your mind with that feeling of something with enormous teeth standing right behind you.
In order to stop worrying you will have to train yourself to accept uncertainty. Understand that you already do this with a lot of things in your life. For example, when you drive, take a plane, eat in a restaurant..etc. You already accept that the car will get you where you want to go, as will the plane…and that you will get some food at a restaurant. Learning to grow this acceptance to accept bigger unknown things is tough, but not impossible.
Also, look out to the rest of the world. Do you know anyone who has absolute certainty about anything? Anyone? How do they live with themselves? Are they being irresponsible? Uncertainty is inevitable. We cannot know the future for sure and that is what makes it scary. There is far too much information in the world and we can’t even begin to dream of knowing all of it.
Remind yourself that uncertainty is inevitable and accepting that will allow you to live your life with fulfillment.