Are you a chronic worrier? According to Dr. Elaine Aron, highly sensitive people tend to become easily overwhelmed by life, which leads to worry, stress, and anxiety. Many of us are such chronic worriers that we accept this triad of fear as a normal part of life. We fail to see the ways that worry harms us and blocks us from our best selves.
Since worry triggers and fuels many negative emotions, it’s important to kick this terrible habit. The first step is to understand what worry is and how it hurts you. One dictionary defined worry as “the negative self-talk that distracts the mind from focusing on the problem at hand.” Put another way, worry can be thought of as a barrier that blocks you from your best self. When you are in a state of intense worry, you have extremely limited access to things like intuition, knowledge, and talent. Instead, you have increased access to emotions that are more compatible with worry, such as anxiety, fear, and depression.
As an example, many highly sensitive people have a tendency to under-perform while being watched. This happens because anxiety creeps in as soon as you start to worry about the opinions of those observing you. As anxious thoughts enter your mind, they distract you from the task at hand. When you realize that things aren’t going well, you worry even more, which further disrupts your concentration. It is in this way that worry can act as barrier to block you from your knowledge and talent. In the absence of an observer, you are not worried and have free access to your abilities. As another example, how often have you struggled to find the right words in the middle of a stressful argument, only to have those perfect words come easily to you after the argument has ended — once your anxiety levels are lower?
Besides acting as a barrier to your best self, worry also serves no useful purpose! You will not change the outcome of anything by worrying about it. Let’s say you are diagnosed with a serious illness. You can worry all you want, and not one thing will get better. There are many things you can do to treat an illness, but worry is definitely not one of them! In fact, there is some evidence to show that worrying will actually make the illness worse.
In short, the only thing that worry will accomplish is to increase your suffering and to choke you off from all that is good. So why do it? Author and teacher, Leo Buscaglia, put it best when he said,
“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.”
I appreciated these thoughts by Amy McNeil, a fellow highly sensitive person. I’ve found that worry doesn’t help my life in any way. Action steps are far more useful. However, I still have trouble stopping myself from worrying! I guess it’s human nature.
Are you a chronic worrier? If so, what do you do to manage your worry? Do you find that worry gets in your way? Does excessive worry keep you from taking chances or pursuing your dreams? I’m interested in any thoughts or comments that you have.