Some people live in a perpetual state of uncontrollable worry. They imagine the future as a vast minefield, full of danger, and that attitude prevents them from living in peace. They fear that a carousel of misfortune will rush in on them from one moment to the next.
These people are sure that their child will fail the exam next week. They think they’re having a heart attack as soon as they feel a sting in their chest. They get scared and think they have cancer if a wart appears. They are afraid that their daughter will get in an accident every time she takes the car, etc.
Self-fulfilling prophecies: a curious psychological effect
It is striking that the negative events anticipated by these people have a very low probability of occurring. In addition, the most curious thing is that sometimes they themselves make their predictions come true, giving rise to self-fulfilling prophecies, as psychologists call them. This way of thinking leads them to feel and act in the direction of their fears.
Let’s see an example of a self-fulfilling prophecy: a driver is very afraid when he takes the car because he thinks he is going to have an accident. When he drives the car, he does so in such a state of anxiety that he does not drive safely, which increases the risk of suffering the accident he fears so much.
In short, some people spend their lives suffering for things that never happen. Thus, they avoid experiences that could even become positive because they are afraid of the possible dangers and dislikes that may result. Their pathological worry causes them to wait and suffer from catastrophes that will never come true.
4 Characteristics of those with uncontrollable worry
An insecure person really seeks certainty, not truth. Thus, he or she does not realize that truth is sought by looking forward, risking error and adventure and renouncing in some way the securities of life.
The insecure person, then, will always look for evidence that what he fears will never happen, increasing the intensity of the worry.
Low self-esteem can contribute to the personality of a chronic worrier. The person with low self-esteem tends to think about what is expected of her rather than what she really wants to do.
When we think about what is expected of us, we lose our essence and become puppets. Wanting to please everyone increases our worry exponentially.
People with greater emotional dependence fear being separated from the person they are close to and depend on. In this way, they have to coexist with the worry of never doing anything that might cause the other person to leave.
This is also an important focus of concern, because we live surrounded by people who are valuable to us. If we are emotionally dependent, any hint of loss or rupture will reaffirm our need for hyper vigilance.
The person who tends to use avoidance as a way of facing their fears will have increasingly intense and disabling fears. Even without the contrast of reality, fantasies and facts will mix together within those fears. These illusions survive precisely because they are never opposed.
Experiential avoidance is a very common problem todya. We live more focused on the future or the past than in the present moment. This makes us permanently worries about what might happen or what has happened, and we do not live fully now.
What can I do to stop worrying about everything all the time?
For people who are used to generating them, eradicating worries is not a simple task. However, here are some ideas that may be useful:
- Try to clearly define what worries you. Ask yourself: What do I worry about?” Think of each concern and write it down. Try to write down concerns as clearly as possible.
- Decide if something can be done about it. If the answer is no, it does not matter how much you worry; nothing will change. Settle on this and try to distract your attention from it. If the answer is yes, go on to the next step.
- Make a list of things you could do to solve your worry or problem. Is there anything you could do now? If so, do it immediately. If not, develop a plan specifying when, where and how you will do it.
- Learn to distract yourself. You can only pay full attention to one thing at a time, so if you keep busy you will not be able to continue with your concern.
How can I distract myself if everything worries me?
Pay full attention to your surroundings. You can memorize license plate numbers on cars. You can guess what people do for a living. You could add up the prices of items in a store, listen to birds sing, etc. Do puzzles, crosswords or sudoku, hum a song, count down from one hundred, read something interesting, etc. Performing physical exercise and staying physically active is a good way to prevent diseases of all kinds and is a magnificent antidote to chronic worry.
However, it is good to remember something very important: do not use distraction techniques as a way to avoid addressing your worries. Perform the analysis of your concerns before resorting to distraction techniques.
What do I do if I can’t sleep because I’m so worried?
Normally we worry more during the night. When we are in bed, trying to fall asleep, environmental stimulation is drastically reduced and we tend to focus on our own thoughts and bodily sensations.
It seems clear that it is not a good idea to go to bed with your head full of worries. Therefore, try to write down in a notebook everything that worries you and their possible solutions, leaving the worry for the next day. You will feel more secure and will sleep better.
Another technique that gives good results is called “junk time.” It consists of dedicating about 20 minutes a day exclusively to worry. You must schedule your “junk time” and during those minutes, only think about worries and nothing else. And when we say nothing else, we really mean nothing else. The rest of the day, your mind will be quiet because you know those 20 minutes await you, so you’ll just have to wait for that time to come. Of course, worrying for the rest of the day is forbidden.
As we always like to say, these tips are not intended to replace the specialized help of a competent psychologist. When you have a generalized anxiety disorder (excessive, chronic worry), it is best to go to a specialist as soon as possible.