Hacuna Matata!

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Letting Go Of Worries Is Harder Than It Sounds

BY MARGIE MCCASKILL

Worrying is a normal activity, in fact almost everyone worries. Interestingly though, worrying doesn’t bother everyone. So what’s the difference between non-problem worry and problem worry?

Do you find your worry hard to control?

Do you find your worry hard to control?

If worrying bothers you, it probably affects your ability to complete tasks or to relax and enjoy activities. Your worry might have layers as well. You might worry about specific events or situations, but get a double dose of worry because you worry about your worry as well.

When it comes to problem worry, detatched mindfulness can offer relief. This is the practice of non-judgmentally observing that you have engaged in a worrying routine, and instead, letting your worries go by shifting your focus to the here and now.

If you worry excessively, letting go of your worries is easier said than done. People who experience distress from excessive worry often describe their worrying activity being like a ball of string they need to untangle, or having lots of thoughts that must be worked out in order to cope. Worrying is viewed as a type of problem solving strategy that requires attention. They may engage therefore in behaviours that allow them time to worry, such as going for a walk or lying in bed to worry out their problems. But dedicated worry time like this isn’t always helpful because worrying can create more worries.

Other people make negative judgments about their worrying. They describe their worries as being uncontrollable, or fear that worrying will take over and control them, or cause them to go crazy. So they try to stop their worrying by distracting themselves, by arguing with their worries, or trying to think positively. Because they fear worrying, they also avoid certain people, places or situations that trigger their worrying.

Unfortunately, the more attention we give our worrying activity, or the more we try to suppress our worrying thoughts, the more it tends to keep going. One effective strategy to help loosen your grip on worrying, is to use self-talk to challenge the judgments you may have made about worrying. Next time you notice adopting your worrying routine you could say to yourself something like “I’m worrying, it doesn’t help, and it doesn’t hurt, so let it go.

If you find you can’t let your worries go and they are causing you significant distress, you may need to seek help from a clinical psychologist, so that worrying doesn’t stop you from living a rich and full life.

Margie is a clinically trained registered psychologist with a Masters of Clinical Psychology degree from Macquarie University. She works with kids teens, and adults to help them overcome challenges through the use of practical and effective evidence-based strategies. Margie is extensively trained in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and a range of other evidence-based approaches, such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Schema Therapy, and Interpersonal Therapy as well.


 

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