I tend to be a worrier. To a certain degree, it’s my job as a CEO, parent, and responsible adult impersonator to anticipate problems by thinking about them, and take action accordingly.
It’s when I worry about things that are beyond my control that there’s a problem. This type of worrying is a waste of time and energy, because it’s absolutely pointless.
So why do we still do it?
Worrying isn’t working
The thing is, we feel like we’re doing something about things outside of our control by worrying. It seems like we’re working through an issue, and that’s a fallacy:
Unless your worry can tangibly help you identify solutions that you can implement to prevent a negative outcome, worry is often something that people do to feel as though they are being productive when really they’re only creating more distress for themselves.
Once you realize that this type of worrying serves no purpose, you’ve taken the first step to eliminating needless worry and reducing your anxiety. But the negative thoughts are still there, right?
Thoughts come and go
You get it on an intellectual level that worrying thoughts just show up, unbidden by you. And you can also accept that unless you purposefully hold on to them, those thoughts will eventually drift away.
But it’s much more effective to experience both the involuntary bubbling up and transitory nature of your thoughts by observing your own mind. And that’s why research shows that mindfulness meditation reduces worry:
The most effective technique for reducing the frequency of negative thoughts was a guided acceptance-based mindfulness meditation. The general principle behind acceptance-based meditations is that you allow thoughts to come into your mind, observe, acknowledge, and make room for them rather than attempt to struggle with them.
In the last few years, you’ve heard over and over about the myriad of benefits that meditation brings. If you’re struggling with excessive worry, you’ve got another compelling reason to give it a try — it’s worked for me.
New Research Finds Mindfulness Reduces Worry (Psychology Today)