Over the last several months I have been struck by how often the subject of worry comes up in conversation. It seems that everyone I talk with has some issue that they are concerned about and are fearful that the outcome may not be what they desire. I must admit I often find myself worrying about one thing or another, sometimes to the point of causing me indigestion. While looking for books on the subject I came across Kathryn Tristan’s book, Why Worry? Kathryn shares that she has been a victim of anxiety, fear and worry to the point that it controlled her life. This led her to conduct extensive research on the subject to gain an understanding of why we worry and to develop strategies that she and others can use to help break the cycle of fear and worry.
In the book Kathryn acknowledges that we all worry, but it’s how we react to worry that determines whether we can make worry work for or against us. She says worry is a response to a stressful situation that can often be exaggerated. It can help you solve a problem or on it can overwhelm you with fear about the future. The book is comprised of tools or exercises that can be used to help change debilitating behaviors that cripple us and prevent us from living a life that goes beyond just coping.
One exercise that I found helpful focused on developing a strategy for increasing power and decreasing worry. Constant worrying causes us to become experts at “terribilizing”, thinking that the worst will happen. The alternative to this is the behavior of “possibilizing” a more positive reaction that generates power. We are encouraged to examine our worries and determine how we can possibilize instead of terribilize. To do the exercise you would take a piece of paper and divide it into three columns. The first column lists what we are worried about, the second column lists what our thinking is saying about the worry and the last column lists positive possibilities. Even if we don’t come up with the most positive solution to our worry doing the exercise does help shift our energy away from doom and gloom thinking.
In addition to the exercises Kathryn also includes true stories of how others have dealt with worry and the outcome that they have achieved. Their journeys inspire and offer hope to those who struggle with constant worry. I found many of the worry solutions to be things I have heard before but overall the book was a good read. It offers a well-researched explanation to why we worry and ways to reduce its negative impact.