Worry as a way to problem solve feels useful. Big hint: It isn’t. How to stop worrying becomes more doable when you think of it as spam. The worry thoughts pop instantly into your inbox, aka brain, with catchy titles and tantalizing “solutions.” Of course you supply those solutions, which allows a new email to pop up! Yay! Another problem to “solve” and you’re off to the races. It actually could be conceived as looking like a zig zag pattern in your mind. You go up with a problem, down with a “solution” so it feels like you are accomplishing something with the “action” of worry. And that zig zag can be infinite.
Humans are a problem solving species. We are wired for it, beginning perhaps with the evolutionarily imperative to find food. And boredom is a problem we are driven to solve.
In modern times, boredom can mean many things. Generally there are plenty of things to do, just nothing you want to do, or feel like doing. It’s the uneasy feeling of being unstimulated with nothing to occupy your mind. It’s one reason social media thrives. It’s the fastest feel-good balm we can turn to for that ping of instant gratification.
What Is Your Inner Critic And Where Did It Come From?
To answer that, here is a story for you. Read more
Word. This is the number one anxiety related sleep issue I hear about: “I wake up and can’t get back to sleep.” That is closely followed by: “I can’t get my monkey mind to stop at night when I am trying to get to sleep.” I am going to help you with both issues. It’s up to you to actually implement the help. Horses, water, drink…well you know the drill.
First we are going to get the blah, blah, blah, sleep hygiene talk out of the way. You have heard it all before, BECAUSE IT’S IMPORTANT, duh. If you can’t get these principles under wraps, you may as well stop here, even if I am going to give you some mostly secret knowledge later on.
The Speed Of Want is a chapter title I read in the recent (great) book by therapist Lori Gottlieb Maybe You Should Talk To Someone (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019). In it she alludes to what I think of as the human evolutionary trait of finding faster, easier ways to the goal, with none or less of the hard work necessary to accomplish it. Witness the recent college admissions cheating scandal. In modern times, think of the changes that have occurred simply between the start of the industrial age and the present that have impacted our lives with mass production, instant worldwide communication, and outsourced labor due to advanced robotics alone.
But there are unintended consequences to this ‘need for speed.’
A concerned mother wrote and asked me for suggestions for her son who was in his first semester at college in a different state. She was feeling helpless from afar, and wanted to know how to advise him about his long-standing social anxiety and depression, which had flared in his new environment. This is what I told her.
Dear Worried Mom,
I am waiting to return safely to my home in Wilmington, North Carolina. We are currently cut off by flood waters. My husband and I evacuated from Hurricane Florence and the destruction it left behind. While I wait, I am reading the book Grit (2016) by Angela Duckworth. She is a psychologist and researcher at University of Pennsylvania who studies achievement, and has a TED Talk you may wish to hear on the subject of grit. It’s been on my list for a while, and this seemed like a fairly pointed time to dive in.
Grit sounds self explanatory, but if you think you have it, you may be engaging in oversimplification. I expect many who find themselves cleaning up and rebuilding in the aftermath of the horrific destruction by Florence are going to experience either its lack, or its presence, in their lives.
It’s pretty standard knowledge that you go to therapy to change something. But changing a way of thinking or a behavior we don’t like is just not that easy, is it? And it is especially difficult to change our reactions to other’s mayhem. If it was we’d all do it and be on our merry way. Let me share three signs you need therapy.
Lots of research and theories exist on dreaming and why we do it. They are all theories at this point, as brain research is still in its infancy. Heck, we don’t even understand the purpose of sleep! Recently, however, I’ve been studying one school of thought in particular. It intrigues me because it just makes sense. First, a little story.
You can call me honey—if you’re my husband. What is this about? I recently shared an article from Next Avenue on the harm it does to older persons when they are called honey or sweetie. These terms contribute to ageism according to the article. Boy did I get some pushback on my stance of avoiding those words! My readers contributed great insight on the topic, but many feel it is Southern custom, and that I should just lighten up 😉
PAGE RUTLEDGE, LCSW, CHt | Anxiety Therapy
5006 Randall Parkway (close to UNCW)
Wilmington, NC 28403
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