AUNT JOSEPHINE Do I worry too much?
WORRYING IS PART OF LIFE, BUT WHEN WE ALSO START TO SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF, IT CAN BECOME OVERWHELMING. CAN YOU WORRY AND STILL BE HAPPY?
Q“Dear Aunt Josephine, basically, I am one massive worrier. It’s not like I have anything really to be worried about: I’ve got a roof over my head, a job I like, a good network of family and friends and I’m pretty healthy. It’s not even the big things that stress me out; it could be something at work, something I haven’t ticked o on my to-do list, or worrying that I might have said the wrong thing to a person and upset them. Sometimes, I worry even when I don’t have anything to worry about, which is madness! My default setting seems to be to wake up in the morning feeling anxious, even when I’ve got a nice day ahead. My mum is a big worrier so I’ve probably inherited some of it from her, but I’m a grown woman now with a good life, so I don’t know why I feel like this. My boyfriend tells me I’m being silly and that I just worry for worry’s sake – something which I know is true, but just makes me feel worse.”
Worried, in Kent.
A“Dear Worried in Kent, it would be easy for me to say ‘Don’t worry’ to you right now, but that would be trite. You might not be living in a war-torn country, but your worries are perfectly real and legitimate to you. Your boyfriend is probably only trying to help, but that kind of response just diminishes how we are feeling, and we can end up sitting on our worries. And as most of us know, a worry left unchecked can grow into a potential catastrophe that becomes completely disproportionate to the original problem.
Worrying is a part of life and can be an excellent signalling system to keep us safe. And yes, some people worry more than others. In our society, there are perfectly legitimate things to worry about: illness, nances, jobs, friends and family. Then there are the bigger things: the environment, the threat of war, whether Honey G will ever try and make a musical comeback. I say that in jest, but I think it helps sometimes to try and have a lighter perspective, to help dissipate the fug of worry that can end up enveloping you.
A long-term generalised state of worrying is just habitual thinking. We slip into it automatically without ever really challenging it. Our parents unintentionally teach us good and bad habits when we’re growing up that we accept as the norm, because we don’t know any better. However, you don’t have to carry on the family tradition. It might be helpful for you to look into CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy), which is really good for unpicking those sort of negative thought patterns. The British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (www.babcp.com) is a great starting point for nding a quali ed CBT therapist or course in your area.
Otherwise, how about keeping a daily worry journal? It could be a good habit to get into when you rst wake up, rather than lying there ruminating over things. Just the act of getting stu out of your head and onto paper can be very powerful and help to separate the actual facts from imagined fears. Also, don’t be afraid to talk to people. If you’re worried about a work issue, pull a colleague or your line manager aside. Or, explain to your boyfriend that you need ve minutes to get some stu o your chest and that (if needed), you’d appreciate his input.
It’s easy for someone else to tell us to stop worrying there and then, but it’s rarely as easy as that to put it into practice. It’s all about rebuilding your reactions and thought patterns. To remix Bob Marley’s famous phrase slightly, you can worry but still be happy. It’s just a balancing act to make sure we stay in charge of our worries – and not the other way round.”
& author, Josephine Carnegie Journalist, life coachcounselling but is holds a certificate in holisticout good advice. best known for giving