Worrying about a problem helps us to solve a problem – doesn’t it?
Well, no. Worrying and problem-solving are very different things. Indeed, research shows worrying actually makes us less likely, not more likely, to solve our problems.
And yet, worry can feel productive. What’s going on? Let's take a closer look.
Worry shows I care, it’s irresponsible not to worry, worry prevents bad things from happening, worry motivates me, worry protects me from negative emotions - do you have positive beliefs about worry? Answering some of the questions in this piece will help you find out.
One reason why worriers worry is because they have positive beliefs about worry, not least the unhelpful and untrue notion that worry is a positive personality trait, that worry shows you care and are a good person. If you really believe this, then you’re never going to kick the worry habit, because not worrying will leave you feeling uneasy and guilty. Let's take a closer look at the difference between worrying and caring.
When we encounter something new, we often feel a mixture of curiosity and anxiety. Curious, because newness can be intriguing, exciting; anxious, because newness can also bring uncertainty and risk. This column explores why we often let anxiety win this internal battle, but suggests we should do the opposite: that is, do what you value and follow your curiosity.
Sometimes, our emotions cause us to do things that aren’t good for us. However, you don’t have to be a prisoner to your emotions. In this article, I examine the opposite action strategy – that is, do the opposite of what your emotions are telling you to do.
I recently talked about exposure therapy and the importance of facing your fears. But what if you fear the thought of relaxing and being 'too happy'? One way of changing this mindset is by devising what I call emotional exposures. This article explores the aim of these emotional exposures: to drop that guard, to give give yourself permission to hope and be happy.
The best way of overcoming your fears is to confront them. Exposure therapy – exposure and response prevention or ERP, to use the proper name – is a proven psychological treatment for all forms of anxiety, but how exactly does it work?
Perfectionism is sometimes seen as a positive trait, but the reality is the psychological downsides to perfectionism can be very grave indeed. In the first of a three-part series, I explain what underpins perfectionism and why it drives and maintains unhappiness and pain.