Stop worrying with two simple questions

The concerns are part of life for many. In less severe cases, these are psychological mechanisms that are functional, since they help us to better cope with situations and plan ahead things in order to avoid problems in the future.

When to be concerned, however, it becomes a lifestyle, anxious thoughts become so pervasive that distract the person, undermining its ability to concentrate, her mood and productivity at work. In more extreme cases, the concerns become chronic, significantly impairing the quality of life of sufferers. In these situations, the concerns are the main symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (DAG).

The DAG tends to be recurrent within families, being characterized by both a significant genetic component that has a non-negligible environmental component. The latter is given by style learning anxiety within the family, as if it was the best way to deal with life.

Often the DAG is diagnosed with a depressive disorder and is associated with other anxiety disorders such as social anxiety disorder, panic disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder.

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The concerns are harmful for many reasons. First, often people who care about observing their concerns vanish, since their imagined catastrophic scenario is not realized. Some might believe that the continued failure of these catastrophic thoughts should lead to the abandonment of the concerns, since they are unable to predict the future. But it is not like that, because usually the opposite will occur.

This is because our brain tends to confuse correlation with causality. In fact, since the act of caring is associated with the success of the situations (the dreaded catastrophe usually does not happen), who cares is easily led to believe that it is thanks to the concerns if things turned for the better. The typical style of thinking is: “If you advance the catastrophe it will not come true.” For this reason, in the future the person will tend to repeat this pattern and increasing concerns.

In fact, this way of thinking is fallacious, since research has shown that the concerns tend to hinder rather than facilitate effective coping skills problems.

A difficulty to abandon the concerns is given by the fact that they become a habit, so that the experience is not to worry about extraneous and disconcerting. It becomes a new source of concern: “Why am I not worried? Something is going wrong in me. ” Old habits are hard to give up, and once you are often abandoned as a ghost in the mind.

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Stop worrying: Two key questions

When the concerns become chronic and debilitating then try to do something to combat them (go to a psychologist, we take the drugs …). In the past, a solution was represented by thoughts suppression techniques. Studies have suggested that these techniques are ineffective, and may have the paradoxical outcome of exaggerating concerns and their harmful influence.

To show you how useless groped to suppress an unpleasant thought, do this experiment. At the end of this sentence, close your eyes and, for a minute, think about anything except a white bear.

You may have noticed that it is difficult not to think of something with the specific intent to avoid it. If I force myself not to think of a white bear, here it will inevitably present the thought or image in the mind. It is the same with anxious thoughts and worries.

This means that anxious thoughts are inevitable and impossible to manage? Absolutely not! Only instead of suppress, deny or groped to avoid these anxiety-producing thoughts, it is more useful to establish a kind of internal dialogue with them. In this way, they more closely in the light of actual tests can be examined.

The studies have identified two main cognitive distortions that characterize the concerns. First, the concerns are associated with an error overestimation of the danger, so the likelihood of the disaster scenario occurring is considered high and the most realistic chance is ignored. Secondly, concerns include negative consequences imagine always tend to be extreme. In this case, you ignore the gradual and you tend to always predict the worst possible outcome.

But we know that this imaginary scenario is far from realistic. In real life, not all things that happen are negative and even worst-case scenarios are not always forthcoming or so extreme.

This is important because the lives of everyday necessarily requires that the estimated probabilities are low. For example, getting into the shower involves the risk of slip and break a leg, but many people still welcome this risk. Because? Because the probability of this happening is considered low.

Calculate carefully if the probability for something to happen is high or low is crucial in daily decisions. In general, the low-probability risk scenarios are taken into account in the right measure, while the high-probability scenarios you defend or try to avoid them.

Similarly, not all negative possibilities of life are so extreme. In fact, extreme disasters are rare, and if they were common in all probability would no longer be considered extreme. The level of impact of an event then the difference in the real world. For example, being hit by a real bullet is different from being hit by a fake bullet.

Given the skewed trend, those who tend to worry excessively, to bring up all of the risks as probable and catastrophic, and given the importance in real life to estimate the actual likelihood and severity of the risks, the internal dialogue about the concerns should include two main questions:

  1. How likely is it to happen? This question deals with the error of overestimation. An honest account of the actual probability that a negative scenario materializes will help us to distinguish between useful and justified concerns (high probability) of those unnecessary and unjustified (low probability).
  2. How really bad? This question deals with the error of negative consequences and helps us to distinguish between real threats and extreme (a real bullet) from non-extreme and benevolent (a fake bullet).

Once your worries are analyzed in this way it becomes clear that, contrary to what would have us believe our cognitive distortions, many highly probable events are not so terrible, and many terrible events are not as likely.

Importantly establish an internal conversation with our concerns does not mean replacing negative thoughts with positive ones. On the contrary, it is replaced with accurate thoughts inaccurate thoughts.

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