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Understand the Psychology Behind Worry

Updated: Sep 9, 2023

Fear and magical thinking are the foundation of worry.

Worry often expresses “magical thinking.”
Fear of the future leads to worry.

Before describing worry, I want to highlight the importance of reading the introductory blog The Methodology of Healing from Negative Emotions.

If this is the first post you see, please hit that link before continuing here. It gives essential information for the reader to make sense of the theory of healing from feelings described in this series. If you read it before and remember the methodology, please skip it.

Understand the psychology behind worry.

Worry is an emotion and cognitive process characterized by a state of unease, anxiety, or concern about potential or anticipated future events. It involves preoccupying thoughts and a sense of uncertainty or apprehension about what might happen. Worry can range from mild and temporary to chronic and distressing.

Worry often arises when individuals feel a lack of control over situations that are important to them. It is a response to perceived threats or potentially negative outcomes, and it can be related to various aspects of life, such as personal relationships, work, health, or financial issues.

While worry can serve a protective function by prompting individuals to anticipate and plan for potential problems, excessive or uncontrollable worry can become problematic. It can impact emotional well-being, cognitive functioning, and overall quality of life.

The magical thinking:

People that worry believe that if they worry about an issue important to them long enough and strong enough, it won't happen. It is an expression of "magical thinking." And if they don't worry about it, it's bound to happen!

Consequently, the fear has the purpose to prevent something from happening.

From an Adlerian psychology point of view, the "what for"-concept translates worry in:

"The purpose of me worrying is so nothing bad can happen."

In that sense, worry and problem-solving aren't kept apart.

While problem-solving involves actively seeking solutions and taking steps to address the source of concern, worry tends to be more focused on dwelling on potential negative outcomes without taking productive action.

Seriousness in the family:

My counseling experience has shown me that worrying is an emotion passed on by generations. Clients can always tell me who in the family was worrying excessively and how it came about that they adopted that mindset. It helps my clients to analyze that family member from a bystander's perspective and see clearly how the scheme of worry has no cognitive reasoning.

That's a beneficial strategy to heal from worry. It also helps the client to recognize how playfulness had been suppressed, which had a repercussion on the self-discovery and confidence-building process during their childhood.

Therefore, playfulness becomes another tool for healing: Engaging in playful activities that tap into the inner child can facilitate healing and personal growth. It allows individuals to access their creativity, curiosity, and joy, which can contribute to overall well-being and resilience.

When clients with these issues come for a private retreat, I include small activities most of us remember from childhood. To skim stones, pick wildflowers, carve a branch, or whatever still feels like fun as adults and brings us back to nice memories.

On the other hand, the body can memorize stress, and even though the mind has learned to control stress factors, the body can still reproduce the stress from worry through its own intelligence. Therefore, next to playfulness, the healing process can be sustained by relaxation in nature or meditation.

As a counselor, I don't officially offer meditation. But I practice it in nature and "my way."

If you want to learn how I connect to source, sometimes by sitting or walking, reach out!

The following post is about feeling confused. If that is what you often experience, the post will help you end confusion with intuition.

I will introduce you to an exercise on how to tap into your gut feeling.

Until then, I'm sending you my warmest regards.



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