Worry Cognition: The Thinking of Worry.

I have described for you all the behaviours that are attached to worrying. This section now concentrates on the thinking itself.

The content of the thinking and HOW the thinking is working against you.

Just to remind you worry by definition is:-

The prediction of catastrophic negative outcomes.”

A form of thinking that can only work against you. Believing that you can read the future is irrational and non-factual and yet worriers spend hours ruminating on thoughts that are not based in fact.

The new research on Worry is fantastic. With the biggest,contribution coming from the, cognitive sciences. Within this philosophy it is vital to believe, that all of the adverse and unhelpful physical, behavioural and emotional responses are controlled and created by the brain (unless in the case of physical or neurological disorders such as Parkinsons, where it is a disease process in operation.)

WHY? Because our heads are attached to our shoulders.

YES That simple! The Cognitive Behavioural therapists illustrate it this way:

diagram-worry-2

 

This diagram provides another depiction of how the circular inter-connectedness of the essence of being human. We are all made up of our physical system, we think and have beliefs (cognition), we have emotions (mood regulation systems) and then there’s what we do (our behaviour).

Here’s an example using a diagnosis of breast cancer (My own diagnosis in 2009)

diagram-worry-1

 

The Reality – the breast cancer diagnosis remains there. The worrying about what will happen creates anxiety, which in turn impacts on the body, exhausting and straining the immune system and your ability to cope.

You see, the reality is not the problem, reality just is. Terrible things happen to us that we cannot change. Once the diagnosis has been made and adequately verified it is part of a shocking reality that needs to be managed. When the cognitive theorists talk about the ‘problem’ they refer to the response mechanisms, not the actual event. That is described as a trigger or stimulus. Let me show you.

It’s as Simple as :

A (Event) + B (Cognition) = C (Response: Biology, Emotion, Behaviour)

diagram-circular-1

In a Nutshell:

Something happens (external trigger) or in the case of the worrier, nothing needs to have happened (internal trigger e.g. “What if?”). You then start to think about it. As you are doing this you are thinking about the event in a certain way (evaluating the situation). How you evaluate is very much based on your conditioning and belief systems, your rules about how the world should be. Then the brain activates a set of responses, including a physical response (tension, stomach upsets) an emotional response (anger, fear, distress) along with a behavioural response, what we do (worry, drink too much, avoid people).

 

diagram-circular-2
Yes, another circle and because of that this is how worry feeds off itself. As you can see it is the set of responses that then result in a problem. You feel bad both physically and emotionally and you end up doing things that are not helpful. This is why people go to therapists, because they feel bad and want to ‘Feel Good’ about themselves and the world. So it is the responses that the individual wants to go away. Particularly such responses as anxiety, depression, anger and irritability, to name a few.

The key to change lies in the WAY and HOW we think. Therefore, intervention takes place in the cognitions (thinking). Hence, Cognitive Behavioural Mood Therapy (CBT). Working with the thinking, to improve how someone feels physically and emotionally and to assist with problematic behaviours.

Always ask yourself:

How is this thinking helping me?

And Remember…

  • It might never happen
  • It could be worse
  • Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill
  • There will be a solution.

 

And in the words of the Dalai Lama:

“If there is a solution to a problem, there is no need to worry, and if there is no solution, there is no need to worry.”

 

And in the words of Gwendoline Smith:

“If all else fails take a pill.” (I’m not joking).

 

P.S.: Don’t forget the breathing exercise, yoga, meditation, even just going for a walk all contributes to relaxing your physical self.