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Recognition signs


  • Have trouble turning off their thoughts

  • Drive themselves at high RPM, but rarely put themselves in gear for action

  • Paralysis by analysis; useless wheel spinning worry

  • Frequent anxiety; tension headaches

  • Slow to recover or to come down from high-stress situations


Two best skills for Worry Warts – The first step is psychological relaxation or reframing, supported by the second step,  clarifying values and goals.


Root causes - Typical Worry Warts spend as much as 30% of their time and energy just worrying. And, perhaps surprisingly, they don’t worry about an endless list of things; usually they are preoccupied with from three to five worries.


The effectiveness of the two top priority skills recommended above arises because those skills address and, then, progressively reduce the central driving force in chronic worry … namely, worry is usually done as a substitute for taking action. Actually, worry is a form of action. And endless mental rehearsal of “What should I do IF …?” is used by Worry Warts to convince themselves they are actually moving towards a solution … by worrying about the various ways their situation is likely to turn out badly. Energy is spent uselessly; hence the drain on vitality.


Focus for action – Here’s how the Worry Wart’s two top skills work for them. Psychological relaxation involves becoming very specific about one of your recurrent worries and itemizing all the terrible things that you imagine may happen to you IF the situation does turn out badly."


Secondly, you should honestly answer these four questions. Writing down your answers is a very good idea.


(1) Can I change the situation I’m worried about? No ___Yes ___(how?)


(2) If I can change it, will I actually do that? No ___Yes ___(how?)


(3) If the situation does turn out badly, what are the worst REALISTIC effects on me?


(4) Assuming it does turn out badly, what’s my plan? How will I handle that?


Practice using these three questions until they become second nature for you.


For Worry Warts, clarifying values and goals means getting very specific and clear about what you want or who you want to be [e.g. an honest employee; a caring parent] in the situations you’re worried about. This is effective in several ways. First, it provides the additional motivation you’ll need to follow through on the actions you identify for yourself in the psychological relaxation exercise. Second, because much worry can arise when trying to keep too many options open, clarifying what’s important to you will help to sort through your options, shutting down those that aren’t very worthwhile



The Worry Wart

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