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The Why Behind the Worry

Everyone worries from time to time, but this might be a good thing.

While there can be many good reasons to lower stress, there is reason to believe that worry and anxiety might also have an upside for some individuals.

What, Me Worry?

First it must be said that there can be anxiety disorders that should be addressed by a medical professional. What we’re talking about is garden-variety anxiety—the old butterflies in the stomach, cold sweat, can’t sit still anxiety that occurs over a specific event. People can experience worry over seemingly good things—like a vacation, starting a new job, hosting a party, becoming a parent—or more obviously worrisome events or changes like starting a new business, taking on the role of caregiver for an elder parent, or having a medical procedure done.

When anxiety kicks in, it’s the primal brain saying, “Run!” The nerves get jangled and thinking becomes distorted and irrational. For example, you have a presentation that you are totally prepared for and it’s a positive that the boss gave you this responsibility. So what’s freaking you out?

The key to using worry for good rather than letting it get the best of you is to dive into the why.

What’s Your Why?

When that worry starts to nag at you, stop and welcome it in. Ask why you are worrying.

The definition of anxiety is “distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune.” To take the example above, why would someone feel anxiety over their presentation? Assuming they are good at their job, the fear could come from not performing well. The next step is to look into why they are afraid of this? Is there a promotion riding on this? If they don’t get the promotion, will it mean they don’t get a raise and therefore can’t take the vacation they want? In other words, it’s not just one simple answer but going to the root of the fear. Maybe this is a chance to rethink if this is the right job for you.

It’s healthy to look at the many sides of an issue, in this case fear. When this true why is discovered, you can shed the worry and feel re-focused on your true purpose.

When the source of the anxiety is clear, new choices may appear that can present a previously unforeseen solution. Maybe someone is feeling stressed about promising to be their elder parent’s caregiver, but after one taxing day, they feel overwhelmed. Perhaps the anxiety is not just about their lack of caregiving skills, but breaking their word. There are many options available—get caregiver training for themselves, hire part-time professional help, ask family for back up assistance—that might reduce the anxiety as they open up the possibilities of new social connections for their loved one instead of trying to shoulder it all alone.

If you are feeling anxious, step back and ask why—more than once—to see if this anxiety has led you to uncover new possibilities.

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