“Don’t Worry!”

Worry is Epidemic. Worry is Expensive. Worry is Exhausting. Worrying is costly in its psychological toll, and in lost time and productivity. One recent study in which subjects were given frequent but random alerts during the day and told to write down their thoughts, indicated 47-55% of the time they were worried about something. Worry is psychologically draining, leads to inefficient divided attention, and doesn’t lead to anything positive.

With the exception of Bobby’s video (below), telling yourself to stop worrying doesn’t work. In fact, it makes it worse because of psychological reactance. Ordering yourself to do something can set up the opposite result. If you instruct yourself to “just not think about it”, whatever ‘it’ is, will invade your thinking even more. The ‘Zeigarnik Effect’ indicates that people remember uncompleted or interrupted tasks better than completed tasks. This finding suggests that incomplete tasks, such as dismissing worry, will intrude until they are completed.

Keep a Worry Pad. When your worry shows up, don’t be dismayed. Try not to attach emotion to it. Just note it on a ‘worry pad’ that you keep nearby. Writing the worry down is the first step in helping it loosen it’s grip on you. Then, get back to work, writing down the worry as often as you need to. Later, at an appointed time — say on your 3:00 pm break — take your Worry Pad to a quiet corner and review all your worries. Worry about them as intently as you can. All your intention goes to the worries. What you will find, either quickly or after a few sessions, is that you will be able to release what is on your Worry Pad because

a) you will see the futility of the worries when you really pay attention to them, and

b) because you are giving your worries 100% attention, you just might get to a solution. Either way, it’s a more efficient than letting worry drain your attention and energy.