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Do You Worry about Worrying?

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Do You Worry about Worrying?

Loretta LaRoche
Loretta LaRoche More by this author
Jul 31, 2013 at 09:59 AM 0 comments

Do you worry too much? Worrying is like reviewing a bad movie over and over. Or praying for what you don’t want. You know it doesn’t make anything better, but you can’t help yourself.

My worrying takes on a life of its own and sometimes I worry that I worry so much! We find a lot of reasons to worry in our modern world. We’re inundated with information that makes us want to crawl into a hole and stay there. In ancient times, our hunter/gatherer instincts were predicated on survival so worrying was a necessity.

What if I go out for a walk and a behemoth starts following me? I’d better start thinking that I may be his lunch. What if I can’t go hunting for a few days because I have a bad cold? I could starve. Our ability to rationalize and consider more options was not available since our brains were in a very early stage of development. Our focus was to get our fundamental needs met: survival, physical maintenance, hoarding, dominance, preening and mating.

It has taken millions of years of evolution to attain more sophisticated reasoning powers. Scientists call this early brain, the reptilian brain, and it is similar to the brain possessed by the hardy reptiles that preceded mammals, roughly 200 million years ago. When we are out of control with anxiety or rage, it is our reptilian brain overriding our rational brain. When we worry, we are using our primitive brain. Our fears surface and we conjure up all kinds of scenarios that more than likely will never occur. Our thoughts become filled with all kinds of “what ifs” and “what will we do”

Is it possible to counter this old brain when it begins to take over our more evolved thinking skills? The answer is yes, but it takes practice. Neuroscientists now know that appreciation and gratitude are healthy distractions for worry.

Lighten Up Your Week:

When you find yourself circling the worry corral, take a breath and interject a few thoughts about how lucky you are. If that doesn’t work, start singing, dancing, call a friend or go for a walk. When all else fails, buy a plastic snake and put it next to your bed. It will remind you that your reptilian ways are not as necessary as they once were!

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