Mental & Emotional Health
What's Your Worry Quotient?
Do you always second-guess yourself and mentally run through every possible scenario and all the potential risks? Do you find that after resolving one worry, you immediately identify something else to worry about? Did these questions make you worry about whether you worry too much?
If so, go ahead and laugh at yourself. Humor is one way to get past the discomfort of looking honestly at oneself, and the first step in lowering your worry quotient.
Your worry quotient is the amount of time you spend worrying in any given day. People who spend the majority of their day worrying have a high worry quotient. Others rarely worry and, therefore, have a low worry quotient.
Worry plays an important role in our lives. It can alert us to potential danger, inspire us to think creatively about ways to avoid negative situations, and even make us more closely observe those relationships we need to attend to. Some of the kindest and most empathetic people have a high worry quotient. However, if worrying is preventing you from writing a more satisfying story for your life, causing emotional stress and affecting your health, you can lower your worry quotient.
According to clinical psychologist Carl Greer, PhD, PsyD, author of Change Your Story, Change Your Life, the first step in writing a new story for your life is to be honest with yourself about your current story.
“Identify three things you worried about in the past that didn’t justify the amount of worrying you devoted to them,” Greer says. “Perhaps these were situations that worked themselves out on their own, or someone else took on the burden of untangling a knotty problem for you. Try to identify why you felt the need to worry about them, and why, in retrospect, your worrying was unwarranted.”
Do you see a pattern to the types of things you unnecessarily worry about? If not, write down three more situations or potential situations you worried about and try to identify why you worried about them and whether it was worthwhile to do so. What themes do you see in your worrying? Do you worry about the future, people keeping secrets from you, or lack of control?
“Go back to your list and imagine a scenario where each of these situations worked out beautifully,” Greer says. “Perhaps that’s exactly what happened, or perhaps you never learned the outcome. Maybe the outcome was bad but not nearly as bad for you as you had feared. Regardless of the actual outcome, visualize that situation working out well for all involved.”
Now, notice how you feel – relaxed, less stressed, hopeful, and optimistic.
To lower your worry quotient in any scenario, Greer advises examining the value of your worrying and envisioning better outcomes.
“Use your high worry quotient to identify potential problems, and then visualize optimal outcomes,” he says. “The energy you spend worrying can be devoted to identifying simple actions you can take to reduce the possibility of negative outcomes. Often, small actions awaken you to your ability to effectively manage your stress level and reduce worrying in every unnecessary situation.”
Some things that we worry about can be out of our control or have an extremely low probability of ever happening. Other things can become less worrisome if we take action, even if that action is simply to learn more about the situation, so that we can open ourselves up to seeing a wider range of possibilities.
“Action and creativity are powerful tools for reducing your worry quotient,” Greer says. “Use these tools today to change your story and change your life.”
Author of the book Change Your Story, Change Your Life: Using Shamanic and Jungian Tools to Achieve Personal Transformation, Carl Greer is a practicing clinical psychologist, Jungian analyst and shamanic practitioner who teaches at the Jung Institute in Chicago. To order his book, click here.