Are You A Worry Wort?
William Cottringer, Ph.D.

“You know you are in big trouble when you start worrying about how much you are worrying.” ~ The Author.

With all the stresses from the overload that now plagues us today, we all probably worry too much about the past, present and future. This dismal reality is far from new news. But the question of the day is, what can we do to decrease the unnecessary stress from unhealthy, unproductive worry? This is something we should all be concerned about before it gets the best of us, especially when we start worrying about worrying. Below are three useful strategies to accomplish this:

1. Manage Thoughts.

Conscious and unconscious thoughts are very powerful. Our thoughts are what drive everything—our feelings, beliefs, choices, behaviors, expectations and realities. Thought control though, is much easier said than done. There is a good reason for this and that is you can’t control half of something from the other side (good thoughts vs. bad ones; thinker vs. thinking). Alan watts captured this dilemma with the analogy of trying to lift yourself up by tugging on your own bootstraps. It is impossible.

So, in the meantime, the best you can do is to begin managing your thoughts. The way to do that is to start thinking about your thinking. By doing that you begin to notice what you have been failing to notice all along—the difference between productive and unproductive thoughts. The more unproductive thoughts you notice, the more you become motivated to do something about them.

2. Substitute.

Negative habits can’t be controlled, over-powered or otherwise attacked. This is because habits are driven by thoughts, which can only be managed at best. Good management of bad habits usually works best by substituting a legitimate behavior to get the same desirable effect as the illegitimate behavior produces enough of to keep the bad habit going (like how the scant winnings from the slots do to perpetuate a gambling habit).

The end goal with substitution is to replace negative, unproductive thoughts with positive productive ones. For example, a person may think he can’t be at ease in social situations without an alcohol crutch. To change this thinking a counselor may provide a safe environment, without alcohol, where a person can experiment with social interaction to register a success experience which will change the thinking pathway on the brain.

2. Understand, Accept and Forgive.

A very big part of life is to find the right approach to changing the things you don’t like. We seem to start out wanting to change everything from the outside-in, before we even bother learning how to fit into what we are in a panic to change. This correct sequence is the right perspective to get us in a better position to see the few things that actually do need changing from the many we wrongly think do and really don’t. Also this new viewpoint is the best one to see how we can be more successful to change things from the inside-out. From there on it is a matter of:

• Separating the changeable things from the unchangeable ones.
• Understanding, accepting and forgiving the unchangeable things.
• Refocusing on making better choices in changing what we can, to fix the few critical realities that will open the door to more success and happiness.

By managing thoughts better to know the productive ones form the unproductive ones; understanding, accepting and forgiving the unchangeable things; and then substituting productive thoughts that have the same desirable outcome as the unproductive ones do without the negative side effects, your worrying will be more productive. Then you will have the energy to do the best thing to stop having to worry—by doing something positive in confronting the object of your worries. You are changing the changeable things in moving forward and letting the rest go and putting them behind you. And, a funny thing happens on the way to un-worrying you start preventing negative things from happening to worry about.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is Executive Vice President for Employee Relations for Puget Sound Security, Inc. in Bellevue, WA, along with being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living in the mountains of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, “You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too” (Executive Excellence), “The Bow-Wow Secrets” (Wisdom Tree), and “Do What Matters Most” and “P” Point Management” (Atlantic Book Publishers), and “Reality Repair” (Global Vision Press). Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 454-5011 or