Energy Zapper Series Part Three: Worry

Replace your negative thoughts with positive ones

By Holli Kenley

3 Tips For Staying Recharged

We are discussing energy zappers. What are they? Habits or social behaviors which are a part of everyday life, but unfortunately do very little to enhance our sense of well-being! Why? Because they deplete us! We’ve already discussed Energy Zapper One: Giving Advice and Energy Zapper Two: Drama. If you haven’t read them, go back and do so. You might find them helpful in keeping yourself energized. Today we are going to tackle Energy Zapper Three: Worry. Even if you are not a worrier, please read on. You might be able to help the worrier in your life.

I’m convinced that we are either born worriers or we are not. I’m a worry bee and my husband is a cool cat. When it comes to worrying, he cannot relate to my busy mind and I cannot relate to easy going attitude! An example of a conversation between us might go something like this:

Me: Honey, the car is making a weird noise. Don’t you think we should take it in and have it looked at?
Dan: Hmmm, maybe. Let’s give it a few days. I’ll listen to it. We’ll see.
Me: Yes, but what if something happens when I’m driving it? That worries me.
Dan: Ok, I’ll check it out. If something doesn’t sound right, we’ll take it into the shop?
Me: But when? If we don’t take care of right away, we could make it worse?
Dan: Holli, don’t worry. I’ll go check it out in a few minutes. And then we’ll go from there.
Me: (still worrying) Okay.

If you are a worrier, can you relate to this? For Dan to tell me not to worry is like me telling him not to get hungry. It just happens naturally. Unfortunately, worrying accomplishes nothing! It does not serve any purpose or produce a positive outcome. Worrying is a real zapper. Let’s take a closer look at it.

Worrying is an obsessive pattern of fearful thinking and feeling about the unknown or what might happen.

Worrying, I believe, is based in fear. Worriers attempt to assuage their fear by trying to anticipate and control their surroundings. This many times creates a hyper-vigilance which can lead to anxiety and nervousness. Chronic worriers often feel depressed, fatigued, frustrated, and even angry. The sad irony about worrying is although it is an instinctual coping mechanism we utilize to calm our fears, it is actually cultivating a more chaotic and depleted spirit. Clearly, worrying has no health benefits.

For years, I argued the point with my husband that it was because of my worrying that things got done on time and done well. Wow, did I give worrying way too much credit! Why? Because contrary to my beliefs, worrying did not make me a more efficient or productive person or a better mom- wife – therapist, it just made me more stressed! Not a healthy return on my investment into this negative way of being.

Okay so let’s get down to business and examine 3 Tips for Staying Recharged. These three cognitive exercises work. But, you have be patient and diligent as you implement them until they become as natural to you as your worrying.

Tip One: Stop The Thought And Replace It.

As you go about your day and start to worry – Stop The Thought. Visualize yourself actually identifying the worry, stopping it, scooping it up, and tossing it out of your mind. Then, immediately Replace It with a positive thought! Remember, we cannot think too opposing thoughts at the same time. Some examples are: This is going to work out. There is no reason to worry – I’ve know she will be safe. I can’t control them; I can only control my own thoughts! I’m letting it go. If the worry comes back, repeat the exercise! Keep practicing. It will get easier.

Tip Two: What’s The Worst Thing That Could Happen?

This exercise may sound a little strange, but it works. Whatever you are worrying about, play out the worry until you cannot go any further with it. It actually starts to sound ridiculous. Let me give you a simple example.

Me: Honey, when our guests come over for dinner, I’d like to eat outside, but I’m worried it might rain.
Dan: Well, let’s plan for that. What’s the worst that could happen?
Me: It starts raining and we have to bring everything in. And the dinner might get ruined.
Dan: That’s true. But what is the worst thing that could happen?
Me: Well, I guess if the dinner was a mess we could order pizza. But, what if our guests don’t want pizza?
Dan: Then, we can all go out to eat! What is worse than that?!
Me: I give up! (and start laughing)

Although I realize this might not work for more serious issues, so much of worrying is about insignificant stuff and this works well. Try it. And by the way, you don’t need another person to do this exercise, just play it out in your mind.

Tip Three: Trust In The Past.

This is important. For most of us, the things we worry about never come to fruition. What we feared would happen, doesn’t. So, turn to your experiences and trust in the past. As you start recalling different examples of when you were worried and stressed about a situation, remember your truth – It all worked out. You got through it. Give yourself credit. Replay these validations again and again, recharging yourself in the process. Feel yourself as you let go of the fear, and trust in what you know.


Publishers Notes: Holli Kenley is an American Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and the author of “ Daughters Betrayed By Their Mothers: Moving from Brokenness to Wholeness” and “Power Down & Parent Up!: Cyber Bullying, Screen Dependence & Raising Tech-Healthy Children”