What is Worry?
Worrying is thinking about problems that may happen in the future. It’s something everybody does. You can spot worrying by its “what if” pattern – “What if I get fired?”, “What if my partner gets cancer?” and so on. There are two types of worries: practical and hypothetical.
These are the worries about things over which we have some control, and that really might happen. To deal with these worries, we need to take action. For example, if you are worried about your health, it can motivate you to make some life changes. You might sign up for a gym, start eating healthy and manage your stress levels.
Worries about things over which you have no control, or that may never happen, are hypothetical. Hypothetical worries usually involve “what if?” questions. For example, “What if my boss doesn’t like my presentation?”, “What if my child gets sick?”, “What if this pandemic will never end?” These worries are around things that could possibly happen, but may never happen. It is usually best to let hypothetical worries go. Trying to figure out how you will handle a worry you have no control over, or that may not even ever happen in reality, is a waste of your time and energy.
Worry becomes a problem when you worry too much, when you worry about things over which you have no control, or when worries become so frequent they take over a large part of your day. Worrying a lot about day-to-day things, or things that happen in the world today can cause us to be anxious.
Worry can become a vicious cycle — the more you worry, the worse your anxiety becomes. The more anxious you feel, the more time you spend worrying. The more you worry, the more problems and difficulties you can imagine. This, again, can lead to feeling more anxious or even depressed.
The simple techniques that you are about to learn can help us tackle worrying. But before we proceed, I invite you to take this short Worry Self-Quiz to see if you are a worrier and to what extent.