Answer yes or no to the following questions:
- Do you tend to solve problems on impulse?
- Do you spend a long time analyzing the implication of decisions?
- Do you put off problem solving?
- Do you often make decisions and then back off for further reflection?
- Do you pre-judge the outcome of your problem-solving efforts?
- Do you tend to ask others to solve problems for you?
- Do you prefer to put problems to the back of your mind?
Answer 1. People prone to worrying may attempt to push problems away by making impulsive decisions. It may have short-term benefits but the lack of forethought can also have ramifications that make a modest problem worse.
Answer 2. People who worry a great deal tend to spend a long time mulling over the implications of each possible solution. It perpetuates worry because the person becomes overwhelmed with the alternatives any one of which may be a viable solution.
Answer 3. Worriers tend to avoid tackling problems. They are aware of the need to solve the problem(s) but will prevaricate. The need to pay a bill, for example, may be offset by worries about other financial matters resulting in no progress and increased debt.
Answer 4. Approaching a problem only to back off is a classic worry strategy. The problem(s) may be reviewed, manipulated, calculated and recast into smaller or different components. It appears to be solving the problem but no progress is actually made.
Answer 5. Pre-judging may seem like an intelligent way of assessing the implications of a decision. In some ways it may be but a worrier has a particular style of pre-judging that assumes the solution will turn out badly. This negative pre-judging works on the basis of perceived damage limitation rather than a successful outcome.
Answer 6. It’s easier for people skilled at persuasion, or very needy, to get others to solve problems on their behalf. Avoidance relieves anxiety and passes the responsibilities to others but it also reduces personal confidence for tackling problems and finding solutions.
Answer 7. Okay, a few problems may simply drift into the background if you simply ignore them but most won’t. A problem still remains whether you push it away or not. It may fester, develop and worsen as a result. People who worry may find the sheer quantity of unresolved problems a worry in itself. And so the vicious cycle continues.
Jerry Kennard, Ph.D., is a chartered psychologist and associate fellow of the British Psychological Society. Jerry’s clinical background is in mental health and, most recently, higher education. He is the author of various self-help books and is co-founder of positivityguides.net.