01/07/2013 12:17 am ET Updated Mar 08, 2013

Want to Stop Worrying?

It's a new year that brings with it a promise of letting go of habits that deplete you, and adapting behaviors that can help you advance.

Worrying is one such habit that keeps you stuck. In fact, there is nothing positive that comes from it.

Are you a worrier? Do you find yourself projecting negative outcomes? Do you obsess over the future? Is it hard to let go of wondering what's going to happen to someone you care about?

If the answer is "yes" to anyone of these questions, you are probably spinning your wheels more than you'd like, and depleting your energy on things that you have no control over.

Worrying, like any habit that's hard to break, takes time and patience to turn around. Here are some insights to get you started. They will make you more aware of how futile worrying is.

Worrying has no positive effect.
Reflect on a time when a worry attack came on. What was happening? Who was the central focus? What were you telling yourself? After some time had elapsed, did what you fear, happen? Did your worrying about it make a difference? The answer most likely is no.

Worry distorts the truth.
On the verge of hysteria -- which worrying can often lead to -- what you perceive as true, probably isn't. You are looking at a situation in a distorted way, and your judgement is clouded.

Worry can be a cover-up.
Worrying keeps us away from dealing with the real issues. Is there something in your life that you need to attend to but aren't? Why is this? Are you afraid of losing something you have, or not getting something you want?

Worrying zaps our energy.
To illustrate this point, here's an analogy. Let's say your body is made up of sugar cubes. Each cube represents a unit of energy. When you worry, a large number of cubes are used up that could have been put to better use.

When you spot yourself worrying, nip it in the bud. Just ask yourself these questions:

  • Is what I'm "telling" myself true?
  • Am I seeing the situation clearly?
  • What am I avoiding by getting myself churned up?

Then turn your attention to something more productive.

For more by Helene Lerner, click here.

For more on emotional wellness, click here.