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 Control Freak
Consciously or not, you believe you can control the universe through your thoughts. If you worry about it enough, you'll make that good thing happen (or prevent a bad thing from happening). Consumed by uncertainty and fearful of change, you feel you could stop worrying if only you had the one thing that forever eludes you: total control.
Wouldn't life be easy if you knew what will happen tomorrow, six months, or five years from now? Since you don't, you use worry to protect yourself from the unknown -- with mixed results. "Life is profoundly impermanent and constantly changing," says Cope, "and it's best to let go of attempts to control experiences and outcomes." Granted, worry can motivate us to prepare for the worst (pack an umbrella). But the notion that we can control the future with worry is inherently flawed -- delusional thinking at best.
Get Absorbed in the Present
"Give yourself something delightful and compelling to focus on right now," says Cope. When you walk your dog, focus on the swing and rhythm of your legs. When you eat an orange, allow the whole of your attention to be absorbed by it -- the scent, the texture, the weight of it in your hand. If your attention starts to wander, gently bring it back. The more in tune you are with this central, observing part of yourself, the easier it is to embrace the flow of life without feeling threatened -- and the fewer opportunities you give worry to creep in.
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
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