Worrying about Worry - Reflections of a Serial Worrier
If you follow this blog, or have met me before, you know that I am a worrier. I wish that wasn’t the case, but unfortunately it is in my genes. Regardless of what is happening I am constantly worrying. It doesn’t matter if things are in perfect harmony or if they are in a dark deep storm of chaos, the worrying never stops.
I have inherited this mostly from my dad, a worrier himself, who from an early age showed me the importance of planning and executing as a way to help quiet the worry. It just so happens that my dad is in town for the summer, which helps me the rare opportunity to be able to see how I typically act for myself. It is almost like I am looking in a mirror. This allows me to better self-reflect and take some action to help ease the worry. Even if it is just for a little bit.
Yesterday my dad was letting my dog out and made the following remark: I haven’t seen Ruby go to the bathroom when I let her out. Do you think that she goes less than other dogs? Should she have this checked out?
As you can imagine, this led to several questions from yours truly: When you let her out do you follow her through the yard? Well, no… Does she seem distressed? No, I was just wondering…
Classic case of a worrier creating something to worry about when there is no reason to. Now before you start snickering at my dad, we ALL do this. Especially me. We create worry when there is no worry to be had. We do this so that our brain can distract us from other matters that might be too hard to face. It is essentially allowing you to focus on something else instead of focusing on what you really need to focus on.
So, what do we do about this? Well, the first step is to be aware that this could happen. Just like with everything else, you need to isolate your particular worry and determine if it is worth worrying about and what priority should this worry take in our vast list of worries.
Mark Manson, author of A Subtle Guide to Not Giving a F*** (, covers this topic pretty extensively in his book. Good read, even better audio listen. In essence he says that a person has only so many things that they can truly care about at one given time. The key is not to care less, but to identify the things that you want to deeply care about, and make those a priority in your life.
This should certainly apply with worries as well. If one only has the capacity to worry about a finite number of things, what should we truly worry about? We see this every day. People that are worried about their career, might not be as concerned about their health. If someone is worried about the zombie apocalypse, they might not be as fired up about the next Game of Thrones book coming out (well in this case, the person might care about both). You get what I am saying. Let’s prioritize our worries so that we can ensure that we are spending time and energy on things that are worthwhile.
The first step is to identify the worries that really should be no worry at all. My dad worrying about the dog going to the bathroom is a great example. Me worrying about not going to a concert every month is another. Although I care deeply about music, my concern at this moment is on my coaching business. Whenever I start worrying about festivals I am not attending, I am spending valuable time and energy that could be spent on actions I need to take to build my coaching practice. When it happens, I take a deep breath and refocus on what is critical.
Here is some homework for you. Write down a list of all the things that are worrying you at this moment. It can be the financial stability of your family, you career goals, your health, the amount of time it takes to go through the cashier at the grocery store… write them all down. Now go through each one of them and prioritize them. What are the ones that need your upmost attention? Which are the ones that you can let go of? Revisit this list often. Focus on what is important.
When you find yourself filled with feelings of dread, sweating your brow and hyperventilating, take a deep breath. Try to identify what is making you feel this way. Evaluate if it is worth all the energy you are spending on it. If it is, then focus on what you can do to address the worry. If not, make like Elsa and let it go already.
Andre Wyse Mello is a Business Coach and a member of the Worriers Hall of Fame. He has been in Marketing and Leadership for over 17 years. If you would like to connect with Andre, please visit www.wysecoaching.com.