The Other Side of the Couch: Worrying

Young Woman Biting Her Finger Nail





Are you a worrier?

So many people in this day and age are troubled by worry…worrying about what if this, and what if that…what will happen if this happens, how will I handle things if that…We spend precious energy on these what IFS, and too often in the process we lose track of the what NOW.

I spend many working hours with people who are troubled by many “what ifs.”  And it doesn’t help to be logical and explain that worrying isn’t very useful.  If worry could be affected by logic, it would not have the hold on us that it often does.

Worry, in many cases, is a message from our hearts (our emotional world) to our heads (our rational world) that is saying:  Be careful!  Watch out!  Take care!  Have you ever tried to be logical with a child who is frightened?  That’s about what it’s like when our rational brains try to tell our emotional hearts to calm down.

I have found it much more helpful to first accept the emotion:  “Of course you’re scared.  I understand that you’re worried about _____.”  It reminds me of being with my daughter when she was very young and was afraid of Gaston, the bully in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.”  I didn’t try to talk her out of her feelings; instead we found a ritual that involved telling Gaston to “Go away, scat, vamoose, you are not welcome.”  We did that together.  So the worry was met, not dismissed, witnessed, and together we created a different way of responding to it.

If you are worried, you might try:

  • Accepting the feeling
  • Taking a compassionate stance toward the part of you that is worrying
  • Creating a message of support that both witnesses and shifts the response.

Could change your head AND your heart!

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP:

Susan is a communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, and proud native Nashvillian. She has been in private practice for over 30 years. As she says, “I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts.”

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