Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

How To Cope With Worry

We’re all doomsday thinkers. We perhaps don’t all fear the world is going to end, but we all worry about events that could spell disaster for our own lives.

We worry that we said the wrong things, that we may lose our jobs, that we can’t afford rent, that we’re failures, or that we’re not worthy of love.

Whatever the future holds, we reckon it’ll be bad. Very bad.

The worst is that we’re not even in charge of these catastrophic thoughts. They just sneak into our minds and hijack our thinking. And even though we know these predictions are overblown and unlikely, it’s incredibly difficult to turn our attention away from them. 

Like a car crash on the side of the road, we can’t help but stare and forget what we’re doing.

So how do we escape the pull of these negative thoughts and stay on course?

A simple but effective method is the worry hour. And it works like this.

Keep a small notepad with you at all times and when you observe a worry, write it down and save it for later. Then pick a time where you’ll address the worries. I recommend no shorter than 10 minutes and no longer than 20 minutes.

Once the worry ‘hour’ arrives, you can finally engage the worries. But don’t go about it as usual, ask yourself (some of) these questions instead:

  • Is the worry largely unfounded or a realistic prediction of the future?
  • Do you believe it will happen? What’s the evidence? Argue both sides.
  • What does the worry motivate you to do or avoid? Does it improve your situation?
  • Has worrying about this issue helped you in the past?
  • What would you advise a friend who is going through the same?

Do this for a few weeks and you’ll not only discover that the catastrophes don’t happen. You’ll also see that the worries have far less power over you. 

Worries are rarely messages that demand urgent action. They’re mostly unanswerable questions that aren’t worth your attention.

P.S. Don’t expect your worries to disappear, that’ll only set you up for disappointment. The goal is to break free of the tyranny of your worries, so you can invest your time and attention in what counts.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach