5 Positive Beliefs about Worry that are MYTHS!


5 Positive Beliefs about Worry that are MYTHS!

Dr. Audrey Margol

Licensed Clinical Psychologist

It seems like we can find something to worry about everywhere we turn.  When these worries compile, it can be helpful to reevaluate the value and usefulness of worry.  Many people find that they are worrying more and more each day, rather than finding acceptance for their current situation.  Sometimes we place too much value on worry and even believe that it is effective in helping us solve problems.  Here are five MYTHS about WORRY that many people may recognize in their own thinking.


  1. A belief that WORRY can help you solve problems. This is the belief that worrying will make us better prepared to face problems, or help us react better when problems do occur. Also the belief is that worrying can help us foresee potential problems and avoid them.

WHY A MYTH?  Worry is actually a passive activity, not an active way of problem-solving.  Worry often serves as a detriment to problem-solving due to the problems it creates with poor concentration, feeling overwhelmed, and inactivation of behavior or “feeling stuck.”


  1. A belief that WORRY is a good way to motivate yourself. This is the belief that worrying will motivate you to do things you would otherwise avoid, such as responsibilities at work, household tasks, social activities, or leisure. (e.g. If I worry about my to-do list, it will help me get motivated to do it.)


WHY A MYTH?  Too much worry creates a sense of feeling overwhelmed or “flooded.”  When people feel overwhelmed, they often avoid tasks instead of approach tasks. Thus worry actually is unmotivating and leads to avoidance behavior.


  1. A belief that WORRY provides protection from experiencing negative emotions. If you worry about something beforehand, you believe that it can protect you from deception, disappointment, or guilt. Thus, we place value on worrying now, to save us the experiences of negative emotion later.  (e.g. If I worry about whether my husband’s cancer will return ahead of time, I won’t be as shocked, sad, angry, etc. when it happens.)


WHY A MYTH?  Worrying is not the same as preparing or planning.  Being prepared for a possible disappointment or planning for a rainy day (e.g. a backup plan) is much different than worrying about a possible event.  Worry is passive whereas planning is active and involves doing something, not just thinking/fretting about it. Also, negative emotions are a part of life and unavoidable. Emotions will still happen even if you worry ahead of time.


  1. A belief that the act of WORRYING can have an effect on events. This is the belief that worrying itself can have power over the occurrence or non-occurrence of positive or negative events. (e.g.  I have always worried about my kids getting into an accident while riding the school bus. It has never happened so my worrying must be working. I should keep worrying.)

WHY A MYTH? Worry (a passive activity) cannot possibly change the outcome of whether the school bus actually arrives safely at school or is involved in an accident.  This type of belief is often referred to a “magical thinking.”


  1. A belief that worrying represents a positive personality trait. This is the belief that worrying shows caring or that you care more than others do. (e.g.  “I am the worrier in the family, if I didn’t worry who would?”)


WHY A MYTH?  In this example, worrying is confused with caring. Do people who worry less really care less about their loved ones? Would your loved one really think you didn’t care about them if you stopped worrying?


If you feel like several of the statements above describe you and if you feel that it is difficult to stop or control your worry behavior, you can talk to a professional about how to change the way you think! Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is often used to help people change their thinking and behaviors in order to worry less and reduce anxiety and tension.


Dugas, M. J., & Robichaud, M. (2007). Cognitive-behavioral treatment for generalized anxiety disorder: From science to practice. New York: Routledge.

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