Why Do We Worry So Much?

Why Do We Worry So Much?

written by: Irving Schattner
by: Irving Schattner
Why do we worry Why do we worry

It seems that worry has become a normal state of affairs for many, if not most, people. One only needs to turn on the television to witness conflict, aggression, lack of civil discourse, violence, death, and destruction. Repeated exposure leaves some people feeling numb and desensitized, while others feel stressed out, panicked and in a state of perpetual vigilance and fear.

Besides what one witness on television, there are a host of other potential and real worries. Those related to job and career, finances, relationships, and mental and physical health represent other areas where people typically engage in some level of worry.

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Worry can represent a barometer, or measure, of how we view problems (or challenges), and on a deeper (often subconscious) level can shape our core beliefs about ourselves, others and the world we inhabit. Thus, one should draw a distinction between normal worry versus that which is excessive and incapacitating. If channeled in a healthy way, assessing the source(s) of our worries can boldly spur us on to take action to alleviate the distress and make our lives more manageable and joyful. On the other hand, one can become so obsessed with and controlled by worry that it leaves us avoidant or incapacitated to take action. And... even if we recognize the need to take action, we may be paralyzed by doubt, uncertainty, and fear that lead us to take half-measures or any actions which involve stepping out of one's "perceived" comfort zone. This inaction is often borne out of a deeply held fear that something terrible might happen if one were to take action, as well as beliefs that are deeply rooted in fear of failure and a lack of belief in one's ability to effect positive change or personal growth.

In raising the question as to why some people take action in the face of worry, while other fail to act, it is worth noting that our representations of our life experience (or put another way, our inner dialogue and core beliefs related to our life experience) are instrumental in shaping our behaviors and patterns of action or inaction. Our inner dialogue and core beliefs either keep us moving in the direction of change or growth, or avoidance and stagnation, in that their mere practice becomes repetitive and reinforcing. If you find yourself wanting to act, but failing to take the steps needed to do so, what may be required is a new level of insight (or awareness) into what keeps you stuck, as well as strategies for breaking the reinforcing patterns that keep you stuck.

That's where the role of a trained mental health professional may be of value. In helping clients gain insight (or awareness) of early life experiences (external forces) that fuel our inner dialogue (our thoughts and core beliefs) and play a central role in influencing and reinforcing our relationship with how we deal with worry and other uncomfortable emotions. In gaining insight (or awareness), plus acquiring tools for stepping out of patterns that no longer serve us, healthy change and personal growth take place.