– Mark Twain: Worrying is like paying a debt that you do not owe
– Occasional wearing may serve a coping function, helping a person to think & plan ahead
– too much & it becomes distracting, impeding productivity, concentration & affecting mood
– chronic worry can derail a person’s life – aka Generalised Anxiety Disorder
– Often runs in families (a general anxious apprehension)
– Often diagnosed with depression
– Worry is a devious foe
– People who worry a lot most often see their fears or worries come to nothing
– i.e. most catastrophic situations do not materialise
[note the negative reinforcer – leading to the mistaken belief that worrying means things do not turn out bad][correlation is confused with causation]
– research shows that worry hinders rather than aids effective problem-solving
– over time worry morphs from habit into a requirement born of superstition
– worrying also provides short-term stress relief through avoidance & works again as a negative reinforcer/reward system
– this sets up a worry cycle as difficult to break as drug addiction
– suddenly switching to not worrying can be very disconcerting for the person leading to worrying about worrying
– because old habits die hard

– Treatment used to advocate thought suppression (deny, ignore, avoid)
– no longer supported, & thought it may magnify anxiety
– NOW: engage such thoughts in conversation & examine them, question them (& challenge) with real life/world evidence

– Barlow – 2 cognitive Distortions:
1. Over-estimation bias
[the voice of worry ignores actual probabilities & instead imagines & predicts imminence]
2. Catrastophising bias
[consequences are imagined to be negative & extreme – the voice of worry ignores gradations & imagines the worst]

-In real life not all situations are bad &
– not all bad situations are imminent or extreme
– Living requires taking on low-probability risk everyday
– for e.g. – taking a shower could see a person slip & break their neck, but the likelihood is low & the risk is therefore deemed worth it (I.e. taking the shower)
– accurately calculating the odds is crucial to a human being’s decision-making ability & calculation of risk so that we can function/engage in life while exercising judgment:
– low-risk activities we engage in
– high-risk activities we avoid (or not worth taking the risk)

2 questions need to be asked:
– how likely is it really?
– how bad is it really?
[so as to guide the person to see, contrary to their cognitive Distortions, most high likelihood events are not terrible & most terrible events are not likely]

– we are not looking to counter negative thoughts with positive thoughts necessarily, but rather realistic thoughts so that a person can determine for themselves the following:
A. An event may be imminent, but mundane
B. some events are not the end of the world, but are just the world
C. Some potentially catastrophic events can be disregarded (not worried about), because on the whole they are mundane events that need to be done as part of everyday life
D. Some events we believe to be catastrophic are not so at all

SOURCE: Psychology Today @


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