We all know what it's like to get a stone in our shoe. It's uncomfortable and distracting. At worst it can stop us in our tracks and if not attended to becomes ever more painful. In these circumstances we do the sensible thing. We stop, remove our footwear and dispose of the problem. We tend to think of pain as something we like to avoid but it's a friend too. Without some way of signalling discomfort that stone in the shoe could have caused all sorts of physical damage and even infection.
Like pain, worry has a purpose, even though it's something we'd prefer to be without. You may worry about worrying, but actually, this isn't the problem. Like the stone in the shoe worry is simply the mechanism that tells us to deal with a problem. If worry were a pleasant sensation we would actively seek it out, so that's no good. For us to pay attention it has to nag away until we take notice and while we don't have a choice about the point at which worry starts we can train ourselves to listen out for it.
My car has a seatbelt warning system. If I turn on the engine without buckling up I'm exposed to a slow, repetitive and fairly loud beeping noise. If I have the temerity to ignore this it quickly changes to a rapid and much louder beep. The only way to stop it is to put my seatbelt on. I may dislike being ordered about by a car of all things, but the system is there to protect me and I appreciate and understand this - once I calm down. There are similarities with worry. If you don't deal with it early on it gets worse until it can become intolerable. If you try to ignore it you are only putting off the fact that the problem still exists. The way for me to avoid my annoying seatbelt alarm is to recall what happens if I don't take a certain course of action. My seatbelt alarm is my car's worry mechanism, it gets better if I solve the problem and gets worse if I don't.
We can make worry work for us if we look at it from a perspective of helper. It will never feel like your best friend and it may get in your face much more than you'd like, but it will always have your best interests at heart.
Published On: November 14, 2013