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The Cost of Obsessive Anxiety

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During January, we focused on building confidence.

During February, we focused on where we want to go and ways to get there.

In March, we’ll focus on how to recognize and overcome pervasive anxiety.

“It is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.”

—J.K. Rowling

Constant anxiety not only keeps you from finding the answers you need but will eventually adversely affect your health.

When anxiety becomes relentless, we become obsessive worriers.

My mother was a worrier. My oldest sister was a worrier. I remember her telling me she couldn’t help it; she was just born that way. While we may have a tendency toward reacting certain ways, we are not a reluctant prisoner to those tendencies.

We all worry. Our worries may be financial, health or age-related. They may be restrictive, compulsive, and overwhelming. Some of our fears and anxieties have grown into huge giants that continue to exert their power over us.

We are often unaware of our worries. They just lurk on the edge of our awareness until something brings them into focus.

We can worry about many things at the same time. It is estimated that up to 95% of our worries and the stress it creates are the result of worrying about trivial rather than important things.

Why we worry

We often worry because we don’t take the time to clarify what we are anxious about. (In my book, Make Stress Work for You, I explain how to make stress work for you instead of against you.)

Are you a worrier?

Worriers are people who constantly focus on whatever is going wrong instead of recognizing problems and working to resolve them.

Nancy Loving Tubesing and Sandy Stewart Christian, editors of Structured Exercises in Stress Management, suggest the following exercise to determine whether our worries have any importance.

Write down all the things you are worrying about right now. How long have you been worrying about them?

On another piece of paper, make four columns.

  1. In column 1, list all the worries that are under your control.
  2. In column 2, list all the worries that are not under your control.
  3. In column 3, list all the worries that are important but are not in your control.
  4. In column 4, list all the worries that are important and are in your control.

Look at your lists and ask yourself:

  • What worries can I eliminate by taking action of some kind?
  • What benefits do I get from worrying?
  • Do I really want to hang onto my worries?
  • Which ones do I want to start working on by creating a plan of action?
  • Which ones do I need to let go of and hand over to God?

Worrying is good only if it motivates us to take action. Otherwise, it is a useless waste of energy.

When we feel in control of our lives, even an extremely anxiety-provoking situation may be seen as challenging rather than impossible or hopeless.

When we feel powerless, even the most trivial worry and concern becomes a giant.

It is important to examine the anxieties we have that don’t go away. Sometimes it is hard to define them – they just hang on. Often, these anxieties are accompanied with us thinking, “What if this happens of that happens? What will I do?”

If you struggle with continuous anxiety, do the exercise above. Once you clarify your worries, you can think of different ways to deal with them instead of wringing your hands and worrying about them.

Make Stress Work For You by Marlene Anderson | focuswithmarlene.comLearn more about factors that create stress in my book, Make Stress Work for You: 12 Steps to Understanding Stress and Turning it Into a Positive Force. When you purchase the ebook, you’ll also receive these bonus gifts:

  1. An audio recording of each chapter
  2. Companion Study Guide and Personal Application Workbook
  3. Thought-Belief Distortionsa guide to identify and change unsound and illogical thinking to thoughtful and discerning thinking.
  4. Problem-Solving Stepsquick tips on how to define a problem and generate, evaluate, and implement solutions.
  5. Letting Go – Taking Control, a tipsheet that describes the benefits you receive by letting go, focusing on the here and now, and believing that you can take charge of your life.
  6. Challenging Irrational Thinkingan exercise to help create awareness of your core beliefs and replace thought and belief distortions with more rational responses.

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