Worry Wart Syndrome: Two Questions to Ask When Worrying

By Katie, 5:35 am

I can’t say that I’ve ever had a wart, but I can imagine the experience is rather unpleasant.

Sort of like worrying. :-?

The nail biting, the fretting, the whole lying awake in bed thing. Ugh, no thank you!

But for as much as I hate the worrying dance, I’ve done it a million times. I’ve bitten my nails to the quick. I’ve fretted away for days over concerns both big and small. I’ve begged my brain to shut up and let me sleep, all the while watching the minutes tick by on the clock.

(Source)

It’s not that I don’t know the truth: that all my worrying is futile. I’m very aware that worrying about something for hours on end usually doesn’t affect the outcome; the only measurable impact it has is on my increasing anxiety.

It’s not that I don’t know what the Bible says about worrying: that it’s not a good use of our time or energy, since God, who loves us like crazy, is the one taking care of us. “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:25-27)

I can know all of these things cognitively, and yet continue to worry. Just like with emotional overeating, I need a simple, concrete strategy to help bring myself back to a place of peace.

Two Questions to Ask When Worrying

1. Is there anything I can do about it?

Until I started asking myself this question, I didn’t fully comprehend how useless my constant worrying really was. Nine times out of ten, I’ve discovered, I worry about things over which I have no control. None. Zero. Zilch. Taking a step back and fully realizing that the situation is in my hands as much as the weather is has helped me to put the worries aside.

2. If so, is now a good time to work on it?

On the rare occasion that there is something productive I could do to address a concern, I then ask myself if that moment – the moment during which I am tossing and turning, both literally and metaphorically – is really the best time to sort out the situation. Is there anything I can about it right now? Usually no. Usually I’ll be much better equipped to handle it at a later time, once I’m armed with a good night’s rest and a more rational perspective.

In those cases, it’s a matter of accepting the fact that there is nothing I can or should be doing about the situation immediately, so the best thing I can do it put it on the shelf. In my mind, I imagine wrapping my worry up in a neat little package and putting it in the corner of my closet. Or handing it directly to God. Anything to get it to some external place – outside of my already-overwhelmed brain – ready to be opened and dealt with at some later, more effective time.

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I wish I could say this is a foolproof method for ending worry, but alas, sometimes I still get all caught up in unnecessary concerns. Nevertheless, asking myself these questions has allowed me to distance myself from my worries at a time when it usually seems impossible to do so. It reminds me that I don’t have to be consumed by my worrying; I can acknowledge and address my worries without becoming them.

Any other worry warts out there? How do you handle it?

18 Responses to “Worry Wart Syndrome: Two Questions to Ask When Worrying”

  1. The timing of this post is highly ironic as I have tossed and turned most of the night and have been up since 4 with a worry. There was something I could do about it – it was relating to something I said to a client that came out wrong. So, I sent her an email to explain what I was actually trying to say and did a poor job of.

    Aside from this, I don’t worry as much as I used to. One of the things that can be helpful is to write a list of everything you are worrying about. Next, read the list and honestly ask yourself if there is anything you can do about the item. If there isn’t, cross it off. And then, for the items that remain, write down whatever the next step you need to take and when you can take that step is.

    Something about the physically writing this stuff down that helps our minds let it go.

    And now, I have a great post idea :D

    • Katie says:

      That is so true. If just asking myself the question mentally doesn’t help, writing it down usually does.

      • I wanted to share that what I was so worried about with my client – she emailed me back and said she hadn’t given it another thought and that she knew what I meant when I said what I did.

        :D

        • Katie says:

          YAY!!! That’s happened to me before, too. I have a tendency to worry a lot about things I say; I get very concerned that they came out wrong, were interpreted incorrectly, etc. And often it turns out just like your situation – the other person didn’t bat an eye! So glad everything turned out fine for you. :)

  2. Kelly says:

    I am a HUGE worrier. It seems like if I am not worrying about something then I am not breathing. My husband is much better about living in the present and not taking things but a day at a time. While I am not there yet I am getting better about not stressing out the point of panic attacks. That’s progress right?

  3. Tamara says:

    Warts aren’t that bad, actually. They’re just like clear flabs of skin and don’t hurt…zits are much worse.

    Anyway, when I worry, I talk. Then I don’t worry because I’m letting it all out, but it gives the impression that I’m stressed all the time. My sweetie thinks I’m really high-strung and have zero self-confidence, because all he hears is me worrying out loud. But I’m really calm in the inside, you know…I don’t think males deal with it the same way. When he’s worried he clams up and doesn’t want to talk about it. He frowns and paces and plays video games until he forgets about it :D

    • Katie says:

      I think you’re on to something here – I almost always worry aloud, and my husband is the exact opposite!

  4. I’m such a worrier! My boyfriend tells me I worry too much and that most of the time it’s over things I have no control over. And I think it stems from me having control issues and wanting to control everything in my life. I am aware of it, but it is something that I have to constantly work on…great tips though, and those questions are helpful. Now I just need to remember them when I am in a state of worrying! hah! ;)

  5. McKella says:

    When I went to a holistic doctor for symptoms consistent with adrenal fatigue, we did emotional work for my anxiety as well as natural supplements and dietary changes. She told me that the only person I can rely on 100% is my Heavenly Father, and I know that’s true. Learning to rely on Him was crucial to my healing process, and knowing that everything will be ok one way or the other. Even if I lost everything, I can’t permanently lose the things that matter most to me. Even if I did, I’d be ok because God is there to take care of me.

  6. PJ says:

    I am such a world champion worrier it’s just not funny! And it is more often than not the root of my restrictive eating practices. One thing that I have always done thoug which helps (if I have the chance) is to fix the problem right away – be that apologise or make amends if I have been in an altercation, or fess up if I have made a mistake at work. But yes, the big problems in life I just try to accept that I am not meant to have the answers (yet).
    You know, or I just stop eating – that seem to work great too (not!!) – that was me being ironic btw :)

    • Katie says:

      Haha, I hear ya. I have spent way too much time trying to solve my worries through food – either eating it or refusing to eat it. Never works!

  7. All of my extended family has been calling me a ‘worry wart’ since I ws 5! I try to say ‘is this really important? whatever happens, happens’.

    I also like my fiance’s advice (similar to yours): “Ask yourself if you can do anything to change it. If you can, start changing it. If you can’t, accept it and move on. That’s just how it is.”

  8. bubu says:

    Wow, sitting here bleary eyed from being up tossing and turning last night, so I can definitely relate to this post! Clearly I don’t have all the answers yet. But some progress: I no longer have weeks-long stretches of insomnia, ususally just one or two sleepless nights. First, I know I HAVE to get up out of bed, sit in a chair with a light on and write in my journal. Even if I’m so tired I really don’t want to – if it’s past midnight and I can’t sleep, then better to get up all the way and face the worries then lie in bed hoping they’ll go away. The writing tends to help a lot, even if it has to be more than once during the night to really unload it all. I’ve also learned that for me, better to NEVER write to people in this state of mind. I may think I’m fixing or addressing an issue, but I’m just not in a stable enough frame of mind and have inadvertently caused familial blow-ups in the past. I tell myself the issue, or the person (like the food) will be there in the morning if I still want to get into it. I can even write the email I feel I need to write to get it off my chest, but just save it, don’t send it. Hard won knowledge on that one!

    • Katie says:

      I learned that lesson the hard way too. I love the connection to food. I made great progress by telling myself that I didn’t need to eat all the food right away since it would still be there tomorrow. I’m going to try the same with worrying!

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