ITS NORMAL TO WORRY
We all worry from time to time. I worry, you worry, everyone I know worries from time to time. Sometimes it is appropriate other times when this becomes an obsessive problem it effects our whole life and usually those people who are close to us and mostly in pretty negative ways.
When worry becomes an anxious and very repetitive cycle there are usually a very negative set of emotions and feelings that accompany our thoughts.
I think primarily because there seems no way out and there is no resolution of what will be, just a lot of WHAT IF’S …
Do this enough times and we create a habit that can run in the background all by itself. This is a pretty good definition of anxiety.
Our thoughts, especially our repetitive thoughts change how we feel; affect our mood and as such can stop us living the kind of life we both want and deserve.
Before I write about ways to change, I want to give a quick example of how our thoughts can change how we feel. It’s a classic!
Do Try This At Home
OK, imagine you have a fresh lemon in front of you. Imagine putting it in your hand and feeling the weight. Look at it shiny and yellow with tiny dimples on the skin.
Now imagine cutting out a slice, you smell the lemon juice and see the surface texture you have just exposed as it glints in the available light. Now squeeze it a little and see the juice come to the surface and put it in your mouth and bite.
Experience the juice all over your mouth and tongue, hitting all your taste buds. And notice what you are feeling right now and there is no lemon …
Anxiety and worry affect the same body senses, not quite in the same way as thinking about a lemon, yet none the less your thoughts affect how you feel.
Because we have relatively highly developed frontal cortex, we humans have an unrivalled ability to imagine. When we give great time and energy to imagining our thoughts transfer into emotions that are realised all through our bodies.
When a problem thought gets ‘stuck’ just like a song ( take the Birdie Song ) that can become a daily, hourly or every minute thing we are singing a song we hate, is annoying and yet somehow has got stuck.
Sometimes a solutions is to sing the whole song out loud … not just the annoying chorus or verse but the whole thing. It’s like an exorcism in that it completes a process when one little bit was stuck in a repeat cycle.
OK, so you have sung the Birdie song and you are still singing it … Opps!
There will always be something to worry about – if you think that way
When I worked as a software engineer I was paid to worry. Paid to worry how service users of the software I produced could screw up my programs. How they could possibly enter date that would seriously derail mostly well thought out software. To try to anticipate anything a user could do that was not what was an anticipated and logical input.
With my best efforts and those of my fellow programmers somehow sometime we would always get an error or program deficient report. Well this really reflects life in actuality. In that no matter how well prepared for a crisis it still happens.
All I could do was learn about how specifically one user crashed the system. And this was a system built from genius ( not me ) a whole team of people who had done their very best in making it crash / fool proof. And there seemed to always be a better fool than me.
When It’s Not Your Job and You Don’t Get Paid To Worry?
There are many studies that relate our natural human condition to be one of being generally much more wary of losing what we have to be more important than gaining something additional. That means there is a general human quality of maintaining some kind of relative status quo.
These studies translate to being shit scared of what we could lose. And I think being afraid of what we can lose is a basis, a foundation for anxiety. A Buddhist term for this is called trishna. Trishna can be thought to mean grasping or clinging to.
We can lose freedom, liberty, right to free speech, our homes, our loves, our job, our health or even our worries. Everything we value will one day dissolve including us.
Worry can take many forms such as obsessing, guilt, grief, remorse or intrusive traumatic memories. These all have potentially different ways of being resolved depending on how the specific type of worry is actually done.
Very common is taking to ourself, in the not out-loud but silent way. This kind has the potential to be resolved quite quickly when you know how. Here is one potential way for you to explore yourself.
Imagine that a trusted friend who only has your best interest at heart is saying those exact same words you use but out loud as in a conversation. Your trusted friend is saying something to you that they believe is in your best interest.
Yes I am inviting you to have an out loud conversation with yourself.
See beyond the words and look for the deeper meaning that they are inviting you to think about. Now do the same thing using your words but direct them towards your true friend. How are you actually trying to help them?
Talking about your worries or concerns to a trusted friend or a professional like me can be the first steps in resolving your worries. Sometimes other methods bear fruit quicker.
When people unlearn a fear or an anxiety there are parallels to resolving traumatic memories and associations. The associations can be fear to a place, a person or even a smell.
There are, simplistically, four brain regions involved in learning and unlearning a fear and this can apply to worry.
These regions are the amygdalla, the hippocampus, the reticular formation and the frontal cortex. These are parts of the limbic system or the emotional brain centre and the rhombencephalon.
Amygdala’s are involved in fear and anxiety. They seem to generate the sense of unease. The hippocampus is involved in episodic and spatial memory. The reticular formation is involved in arousal and attention and the frontal cortex is where we both become consciously aware and can exercise conscious volition.
Using conscious volition a very present and effortful activity. Doing something cognitive while worrying can be an excellent way to de-couple emotions from associations. It requires repetition to bed down and cement new neural associations which can stop worry and anxiety.
For professional assistance with all forms of anxiety and worry please give me a call on 0770 481 8467 for hypnotherapy in Newcastle or email me direct. All clients will receive a pre-appointment telephone consultation.