OBSESSIVE THINKERS – Worry about worrying.
Number 2 of a series of brief articles looking at the unhelpful thinking styles that form part of your mindset.
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What are you worried about?
One thing’s for certain, if you are an obsessive thinker you worry, brood and think about everything that happens (or could happen) in intricate detail. Not being worried about anything will feel like an unnatural state and, like I used to, you worry about not worrying!
I used to analyse everything. I was certain that the more I worried, brooded, and planned, the more in control I was. Make no mistake about it, obsessive thinkers are looking for control, and boy did I need to be in control!
I would look for every potential problem, however unlikely, and then worry like a professional. But did worrying change anything? Did it heck! The more I brooded, the more I worried, and the more confused I got. Far from helping me worrying led to confusion and inaction, often leading to the very outcome I was hoping to avoid. The problem with obsessive thinkers is that, in the end you can’t see the wood for the trees!
Are Obsessive Thinkers always wrong?
The short answer is no, but, like all good things it’s not that simple. Without obsessive thinkers many of the inventions we take for granted would not exist. Thomas Edison, who made the first long lasting electric light bulb, made hundreds of attempts before he achieved success. When asked how it felt to have failed hundreds of times he denied that he had. Every attempt, he said, was a success as it identified one way in which it could not be done. Edison’s obsessive thinking led him to a successful outcome because he had a positive outlook and good self esteem. Combined with his internal sense of power and control these attributes protected him from the negative effects of obsessive thinking.
Just how harmful can it be?
Research shows that obsessing and ruminating about problems can have very negative effects on mood. This, in turn, can reduce your ability to ‘bounce back’ and will often lead to medical symptoms. People with OCD, eating disorders, IBS, ME, clinical depression, and a host of other problems are generally obsessive thinkers. Obsessional thinking replays stressful experiences, over analyses situations, focuses on negative/unhelpful thoughts, precipitating and maintaining these symptoms.
How to stop.
It’s actually a lot easier that you may think. Firstly, who is doing this obsessive thinking? Well you are, it’s your choice, nobody is making you! Secondly, is it helping you in any way? Does it relax you, make you feel better, make you happier/more successful? If the answer to that is ‘Yes’ then perhaps you are the next Edison and don’t need to stop. If, you are more like me, this thinking style has only negative impact then scrap it.
Yes it really is that simple – STOP IT. You don’t HAVE to brood about things, it’s not compulsory, and you have the power to stop. Next time you find yourself worrying obsessively, challenge yourself about why you are doing it. Remind yourself that, unless you really are the next Edison, it will not help you. Instead of worrying about something, do something. This may involve taking action on the ‘problem’ or simply occupying your mind differently – worrying loves an unoccupied mind.
Remember: you create stress, worry or panic when you do not feel in control or able to cope. Worrying obsessively is an unhelpful attempt by you to gain control, but it simply will not work.
Worrying is a bad habit and serves no useful purpose. Nobody ever lost weight by obsessing about their weight. Nobody found true love by brooding over being alone, and your kids won’t do well in school simply because you worry about them!
I gave up worrying, brooding and obsessing and my life is so much better now. It takes about 3 weeks of concerted effort to break a habit and I thoroughly recommend making that effort.
Thrive With Ian trains people like you to overcome all their unhelpful beliefs and thinking styles in as little as 6 – 8 sessions. The Thrive Programme changed my life and it can change yours too.
For more information visit www.thrivewithian.com or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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