In our worry feature, we identified six types of worriers and asked experts, including a Buddhist psychotherapist and a social-science researcher, to show us how each type can get a handle on their hand-wringing. Is this one you?
Worry Profile: The Fortune-Teller
You believe your worry is a barometer or sign of future catastrophe. You live under the assumption that your worries predict what the future holds. If it's on your radar as a cause for concern, it must, therefore, be a true threat.
The problem, says Denise Marek, author of "CALM: A Proven Four-Step Process Designed Specifically for Women Who Worry," lies in an inability to tell the difference between worry and intuition. It's easy to see how we might get the two confused, since they share trademark signs: a sense of impending doom, a change in physical sensation (nagging headache, nervous stomach). But there's one key differentiating factor. "Intuition starts as a feeling," says Marek. "Worry starts as a thought.
"To tell the difference, tune in to what comes first. For instance, you may get the heebies when you're introduced to a new colleague. It could be your intuition telling you he can't be trusted. But if you're already worried about your job security, the unsettled feeling may really reflect worry, not intuition -- in this case, that this guy poses a threat to your position. "If you worry that something bad may happen, the resulting nagging or negative sensation can cause you to misread that signal," says Marek. Another key distinguishing factor: "Worry breeds anxiety, but intuition breeds calm," says Marek. If your worrying worsens, reducing your ability to focus, chances are it's stemming from anxiety. Intuition, on the other hand, often brings clarity, insight, and sound decision-making; you feel more sure, not less, of what you need to do.
Take the Intuition Test
Pay close attention not just to the physical sensations you experience, but to how and when you began to feel them. If you experience a gut feeling, take a closer look at what may be the source of it. If it resulted from an interaction or a fleeting insight, ask yourself what might have caused it. If it came as a result of thoughts, chalk it up to worry-induced anxiety, and let it go.
Psychotherapist and yoga expert Stephen Cope, author of "The Wisdom of Yoga: A Seeker's Guide to Extraordinary Living"; Dr. Robert Leahy, cognitive psychologist and author of "The Worry Cure: Seven Steps to Stop Worry from Stopping You."
Text by Terri Trespicio; illustrations by Laura Levine