Monday, February 8, 2010

Worrying - Part I

I'm a huge worrier. Especially when it comes to things that are totally uncontrollable: like when we were waiting to see where we would end up, or trying for a baby, or what other people think about me. Sometimes I find it almost debilitating, and I can become obsessive about it. For example, if I have a confrontation with someone, I will replay it in my mind over and over again - what went wrong, what I did, what they did, what could have happened, what didn't happen, etc. etc.. I wish I could just turn those kinds of thoughts off, but no matter how hard I try, I just can't.

My first session with my therapist after my miscarriage was a really difficult one. I had to relive the experience all over again, and then talk about what I'm scared about for the next time. When I start thinking about being pregnant again, I become excited...and then the worrying sets in, and gets out of control.

So, my therapist suggested a book to start reading: The Worry Cure by Robert L. Leahy. I completed the worry profile: I'm considered a chronic worrier, I worry the most about my lack of confidence and relationships with others, and I have a huge intolerance for uncertainty.

I then read a chapter about the worst ways to deal with worry. Apparently, the following advice (which I'm sure we've all heard at some point), is some of the worst to give to a worrier:

- try to be more positive (many worriers are afraid of being more positive)
- you have nothing to worry about/everything will be okay (this minimizes the feelings of the worrier)
- I have confidence in you/you should be more confident (the worrier believes this person does not know them at all, causing more worry)
- try to get your mind off it (this only works while you're doing something else - once you stop, you start thinking about things again)
- just stop worrying (again, only works in the short term and, in fact, can increase frequency of the thought in the long term).

These suggestions allow worries to persist because they only work in the short-term. They lead to the idea that worry must be maintained to reduce threat: you cannot handle uncertainty or face your fears.

In the next post, I'll talk about the 12 worst ways to handle worry (some of which are noted above): The Dirty Dozen.