Worry: A Useless and Deadly Emotion
Written by Melissa Kessler, MA, PCC
I work with many clients on reducing stress and worry. This not only makes them more productive, but helps improve their overall health. Worry is a completely useless and wasted emotion because it never causes a situation to result in a positive outcome. Instead, it creates deadly symptoms and health problems such as:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Digestive issues
- Memory loss and destroyed brain cells
- Increased abdominal fat
- Other disease such as cancer
I have spent a good portion of my life worrying about things that haven’t happened yet and situations I have absolutely no control over. However, I have gotten much better at stopping this bad habit because I have come to realize not only that it is a complete waste of time, but it is a harmful way to expend my energy. How have I been able to do this? Here are a few tips that I use and share with my clients:
- Notice when you are worrying.
- Ask yourself if you have some control or influence over the situation.
- If you have some control or influence, then take action to do something about it.
- Argue with yourself by asking what proof you have that this negative event will happen.
- Identify alternative possibilities besides the negative outcome you think may happen.
- Realize that the negative outcome is only one possibility and has a low probability of actually occurring.
- Tell yourself that worrying will do no good and say the Serenity Prayer (see quote below).
- Put your thoughts and energy on something that brings positive feelings: someone you love, a favorite memory, etc. and focus on that feeling for 15-20 seconds.
By taking these steps each time you catch yourself worrying needlessly, it will counteract the negative effects of stress and worry and put you in a better state of mind. Soon it will become a positive habit that prevents harmful stress symptoms and makes you feel much happier.
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” – Reinhold Niebuhr
See past newsletters for more stress reduction tips: Doing Too Much; Feeling Out of Control; and Ultimate Stress Buster.