05/24/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

The Four Not-Good-for-Anyone Effects of Worry

Many people were taught that to shower the people you love with love, you shower them with worry -- to show them you care. And I do think that many of us will admit to worrying about our loved ones at one time or another. Then there are those who habitually worry about others, and themselves, as a way of life. I have had clients who simply accept, as a given, that worry is a natural part of caring for another, that it is the best way to show support.

However, worry is one of the worst possible energies with which to shower someone. If more of us truly understood what we were doing to others with our nervous apprehensions, we would cut back on this practice immediately -- we would save all that worry for folks we didn't like so much. I know I have to catch myself still when I start worrying about my sons, but I do now stop and change the worry energy to something else because of its negative effects.

Everyone knows that worrying about something does not solve the problem. But, there is more to it than that. Worry does some real damage to everyone concerned on several different levels.

Here are the four not-very-good-for-anyone effects of Worry.

1. The main message of worry is: I don't believe you will be ok. I don't believe you will make it through. After the first onset of a crisis -- when everyone might be quite upset -- when things settle a bit, if you thought your loved ones were going to be fine in the end, why would you continue to be so anxious and upset? This suggests to your loved ones (or worse - yourself) that you do not see a better day for them. You are saying they might not make it through ok. This is easily the opposite of supportive.

2. The main energy of worry is very heavy and uncomfortable. When someone throws worry energy at another, the receiver must do something with that energy: absorb it, deflect it, believe it, argue with it, or inoculate against it. This adds to the confusion and upset of the very person we are worried about.

3. It is bad for you. You feel terrible. As we already said, the act or feeling of worrying does not in itself solve anything. Your feeling anxious and upset is negative emotional, mental and physical energy. People who live in a constant state of worry tend to find themselves with all kinds of ailments.

4. And the Worry Recipient is now carrying around your well being, now that you are feeling bad for them. Not only do they have to deal with their own situation, they have your upset feeling to feel responsible for too.

Try Something Different: Shower Them with Your Support

If you find yourself in a situation where you are worrying about a loved one or about yourself, try something different. You can be concerned, interested, supportive, and available (but do not imply Worry). You can say to the other things like:

"I know you will get through this. What can I do to support you?"

"I know how talented and smart you are. I am concerned though about what needs to get done now. What can I do?"

"We are all concerned about this terrible situation. We will help. However, I know you will be fine. You always make it."

"This is a really bad time. I am here for you. I am not worried about you for the long run, but want to help you get through this. What can I do?"

Most people will appreciate that you are not showering them with nervous distrust. And, perhaps, most important, if you are one that is always worrying about your own outcomes, you can start speaking to yourself differently. You will appreciate it too. Showering yourself and the people you love with love does not mean showering them with your worry. Start showering them with trust and support.

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