Podcast Episode 54 – Why Worry

Jul 1, 2023 | Podcast

I’m Diana Swillinger, and you’re listening to the Renew Your Mind podcast. Episode 54 Why Worry? 

DIANA: Hey. Hey. What’s up, everybody? It is boot camp week in the Renew Your Mind community. Uh, I am so in the zone. I am so excited. I am blessed to be in a career where I love what I do. I’ve really been noticing that lately and been so grateful. I love the women I help. I love the mission of helping people master their thoughts and emotions. I love growing the renew your mind movement. And this week, there are hundreds of women participating in boot camp, and over 200 of them are brand new to the community. 

Each and every one of them is in for a week that’s going to change the trajectory of their lives. We are one day in today. It starts today, day one. And it’s just incredible. I’m so blessed to be a part of it. With each of you that’s listening, that’s also there. You know how good it is. Those of you listening, um, who aren’t a part of boot camp, you can still join. You really can. But all of you, I’m so proud of you in the journey that you’re on to manage your thoughts and emotions, I am just blessed to be a part of it. Honestly. If you ever wonder if I’m sincere or not, just talk to the people I work with. This is me. I mean it. I mean everything I say. I don’t blow smoke. If you’re thinking I really want to be a part of boot camp, it’s not a problem. Just head over to Rympodcast.com. Even though we’ve started, it’s fine. You can join. Join the Renew Your Mind community on Facebook and sign up to get the workbook. It’ll still be available all week. And if you sign up by March 25, you’re going to be entered into the giveaway to win a new iPad and so much more. And if you’re listening after March 25, don’t worry, you can still go join the community on Facebook, because the boot camp videos are going to stay in there indefinitely because I just want to help you guys, right? Sorry. I can’t stop talking about boot camp. It’s my favorite thing right now. It’s because I love working with each and every one of you. I love seeing when a light bulb goes on and you just take one step closer to more love for yourself, more grace in your life. You start questioning your thoughts, and all of it brings relief that’s the first thing relief. Everyone says it feels better. It feels like relief. And then you start getting more peace and more confidence and more joy. Regardless of what’s going on. It’s just the best. All right, enough of me going on and on about that. Let’s talk about worry today. That is the topic of today. I was looking back at my first year of episodes. Yes, it’s been a year of the Renew Your Mind podcast. I can’t believe it. I feel like there should be some cheering now. Maybe if I can quick find a sound thing. If not a year. It’s so awesome. 

So anyway, I’m looking back over all the episodes to see what we’ve talked about, and I’m like, where’s the episode on worry? I went a whole year and didn’t talk about worry. I mean, I have talked about it in other episodes, but not in its own episode yet. This is one of the most common topics that I help women with. So I’m like, I got to do worry. I almost didn’t want to do it because I think worry doesn’t deserve too much airtime. Also, on the other hand, God gave us all the emotions, all of them. That includes worry. But sometimes I wonder why. Worry is rarely an emotion that serves us. The reason most people tell me or, uh, argue that they think worry is helpful is they think it’s having some effect on helping them prepare for something in the future that they think might happen that could be bad. But you know what? We don’t even know if those things are going to happen. But still, worry helps people feel like they’re doing something and being prepared. But I would argue that we don’t need to worry at all to prepare for future possibilities. We could plan and prepare from a different emotion like commitment or love or determination or just joy for life. I love my life, so I’m going to prepare for things because I care about it. Love for ourselves. 

There’s so many different emotions that can drive being prepared. It doesn’t have to be worry. I also want to point out something else. Worry is us being afraid about what might happen in the future. So tell me, M, how do you know what is going to happen in the future? How do you know? Because you’re worrying about the future as if you know what is going to happen. And if you do actually know what’s going to happen, I need to have a chat with you because I want to use your future prediction skills so I can know how to invest my money. Maybe I’ll make some bets and sports games. I could pick the absolute right direction in my career. I’ll know where I need to move, what’s the right place to have a home, all that stuff. All right, we need to talk. If you actually know how to predict the future, wouldn’t your time be better invested, making great decisions and being invested in your future rather than worried about it. But we know the truth. You can’t predict the future. No one can. So what are we doing when we worry about the future? We’re making it all up. We’re telling fictitious stories that we make up in our imagination. And then I wonder if we’re making it all up and we’re telling make believe stories, why on earth are we fixated on the ones that create worry? Just this last week, I was fascinated at how far I’ve come with worry. I just had an experience that was totally different than what it would have been if it happened, like, five years ago. So I’ll just tell you the story. I got a text from my son. He was driving on his way to a friend’s house to hang out, about a 15 minutes drive. He’d made the drive before, no big deal. But I got a text. I opened it up and it said, um, here, it’s on my phone. I’ll tell you exactly what it said. Just got pulled over for speeding. The old me would have seen that and immediately gone into worry. Like, oh, no, he’s going to get a ticket. We’re going to have to go to court. Maybe they’ll reduce it. But even then, it’s going to be something on his driving record. He’s only 18. Our insurance is going to go up for sure. This is bad. And all these thoughts would just go on loop in my brain. But that’s not what I thought at ah all. I stayed present. I stayed in the moment. I didn’t go to the future. I thought my son, in this moment, might be nervous. Is there anything I can do to help him? I can give him something to do other than just sitting there being nervous. I’ll remind him, Be nice, which I didn’t really need to remind him. He’s a polite kid. He’s really good at being nice. I was giving his brain something to focus on doing that might help him be less nervous. Maybe not, but that’s what I offered to him. Then he sent another text. It says, could you send me the car insurance information? I could have spun out and worried again. Oh, no, he can’t find the insurance card. That’s going to be another violation, another ticket. This is bad. And on and on in the Brainspin. But I didn’t. I stayed in the present moment. I thought, what can I do? I have the extra card in the file cabinet. I will go send him a picture of it. So I did that. And then you know what I did? I went back to my work or whatever else I was doing. I don’t even remember what it was doing, what I was doing. What I do remember is about 15 minutes later, my brain lit up like it used to when I had anxiety all the time. And it was saying you’re supposed to be worrying. I’m like, wait, I’m supposed to be worrying about something. What is it? I had totally forgotten at that point, just 15 minutes later, that my son was on the side of the road with an officer because there’s nothing I could do about it. 

But my brain tried to pull it back up so I would worry about it. Isn’t that fascinating? Uh, here I went about my way, and my brain was still poking at me, trying to get me to worry. Uh, I remembered then when my brain poked at me, I’m like, oh, yeah, my son got pulled over. How interesting that my brain wants me to worry. I just told it. We don’t need to worry about it. Either he’s going to get a ticket or not. Either their insurance will go up or not. I have no idea. I could have grabbed hold of worry, but it wasn’t going to help anything. What would that have done? How would it help my son? How would it serve me? Anything. Nothing. So I went about my business again. An hour later, my son texted me. And he told me he just got a warning, not a ticket. So even if I had been worrying about all that, it would have been for no reason. I would have spent an hour spinning and worry. And he got a warning. Isn’t that fascinating? How our brains so want us to spin out and the bad possibilities? I mean, this kind of reminds me of the podcast I did on fear recently where the brain wanted to tell a story, uh, of what’s scary instead of the boring story. 

My brain wanted to tell me a story of insurance hikes and court dates and how everything was going to unfold and was going to be terrible. But what actually was going to happen, and was just as likely was boring. He got a warning and went on his way. Boring. So one of the things we can do when worry comes is to stay in the moment. My son told me he was pulled over. I stayed in the moment. He asked me for an insurance card. I stayed in the moment. I did not race ahead to thoughts about the future. I couldn’t find any benefit to doing that. How would worry have helped me? Would it have helped me at all? I would have been distracted from my life that was going on in the moment. I would have been hanging out with worry in my brain instead of enjoying what was right in front of me for no purpose. My worry wasn’t going to jump into the police officer’s head and change his mind on how he was doing things. My worry wouldn’t have the power to change anyone’s actions or what was going to unhold in the future. Worry. Doesn’t have me showing up better for my son. I Probably Would Have Been Panicking, sending Him A bunch of messages on what to do and trying to help him navigate communication with the officer and getting all up in his business. Worry wasn’t going to make him not get a ticket. Maybe it would have increased the chance of him getting a ticket. 

Honestly, my brain stepped in and reminded me, still, you’re supposed to worry. There’s something to worry about here. But I knew I have years of teaching my brain to know there is no benefit to my worry. So when my brain reminded me, you’re supposed to be worried, I’m like, no, I’m not. I, um, don’t need to worry. It’s fine. I can make up whatever story I want. And there’s no requirement to tell a story of worry. I don’t choose that. That story makes me distracted and uncomfortable, and it steals my peace. No one and no thing are going to take my peace unless I let that happen. I choose to keep my peace. I choose a story that either everything works out okay or that I’ll know what to do in each moment. I only need to stay in the moment. It if he came home with a ticket, I would figure out what to do. Then if we had to go to court, I’d figure out what to do then. I don’t need to plan it all ahead of time. I’m a really smart person. I figure things out. I always do. And I just make the present moment normal, too. It’s not really that dramatic that he got pulled over. People get pulled over by police officers when they speed. It happens every day all over the world. Everyone speeds at some point. If they drive, it’s totally normal. It’s not a big deal. This is life. And then I imagine everything’s going to work out okay. I’m like, okay, fight or flight brain that wants me to spring into action to save the day and keep me safe. 

There’s nothing for you to actually do here, so just hang on, sit tight, and wait for real danger. I’m going to need you someday, and I’m so glad you’re there for me when real danger comes. But this isn’t it. This is just normal life. So sit back down. Uh, so I was looking for a way to kind of explain the science of this, so I just grabbed some explanation, um, off of Psychology Today. So this I’m going to read right from Psychology Today. The question is, how does worry work in the brain? And this is what it says. Worry and rumination are the result of a feedback loop between your amygdala and your prefrontal cortex. When your amygdala sends out its alarm signals, your prefrontal cortex analyzes the alarm or the worry. And then instead of calming down your amygdala, it starts to come up with other things that might go wrong. It gets busy trying to find all the other things that might go wrong. This creates a vicious cycle of escalating and self perpetuating alarm and worry between your amygdala and your prefrontal cortex. Research using brain scans shows that Rumination is associated with increased amygdala activity during the process of emotional stimuli. Basically, the amygdala lights up and thinks there’s something to worry about. And then the prefrontal cortex, unattended, is going to agree with it and get to work trying to find all the things that could go wrong and try to solve them. And then when the amygdala sees all these additional things it thinks could go wrong, it gets even more inflamed and more worried. And now you have a vicious cycle. Just like I told my son to be nice so his brain would have something to do, something to work on. This is actually why our brain is offering worry to us. 

When it sees a problem, it wants to get to work to solve it. And if there’s nothing for it to do in the moment, it’s going to keep spinning on worry, trying to find a way to fix it. But you don’t have to stay in that space letting your brain just go on automatic, um, pilot, trying to solve all the problems. You can redirect it because the brain is actually looking to do something to be helpful. Worry gives the brain the illusion that there’s something to do when we have some control. Like if I just worried about my son getting a ticket in the aftermath or all that stuff that keeps spinning my brain, maybe somehow I’m going to change the outcome if I just keep busy thinking about it. And really, in our higher thinking, critical brain, we know that’s not true. But we have this strong desire to control things, to try to feel safe. But I want to tell you, the feeling of security is not coming from solving a situation. The feeling of security is coming from what we think about the situation. When my son got pulled over, I could think everything that’s going to go wrong and feel insecure. But I didn’t feel insecure at all. I didn’t come up with a solution to feel secure. I felt secure already. I felt peace. I believed everything would be fine. I knew I did what was in my control, and I didn’t fixate on, uh, what was out of my control. I felt secure because of my thoughts. I didn’t even know if the officer was writing a ticket. Maybe he was. And yet I felt secure and at peace. It had nothing to do with that. I also gave my brain other things to do instead of fixating on. That my job. I was working. I went back to whatever I was doing. Our brains like to have things to work on and problems to solve. So let’s give it something. Let’s pick something we actually have control over. According to psychologists, one of the most effective ways to manage worry is to put our mind to work somewhere else. So, in other words, if your brain has lots of dead time to fill, if we don’t challenge it with a project or fill it in with activities of our career or go put it to work, to learning something new or creating things like that, it’s going to try to fill the time solving problems. 

Our brain was meant to be put to work, to build, create, solve, learn, grow. Instead of letting it spin on worry, let’s give it something productive and life giving to do. So here’s the in a nutshell, the strategies I mentioned today. Stay present, stay in the present moment. Don’t fast forward to the future, which is unknown and you’re just making up anyway. The next thing is to do what’s in your control. Um, and let go of the rest. There might be a couple of things you can actually do. Go do those and then let go of the rest. And then give your brain something to work on on purpose. Something that’s positive, something life giving. All of this takes intention, and your brain on default isn’t going to operate this way. You need to employ your higher brain, the critical thinking part of your brain, the cerebral cortex that thinks on purpose. Put that into action. Tap into that part of your brain and let it direct the lower part of your brain that’s trying to keep you stuck in worry. It’s like putting an adult in charge. What I like to say, as always, I am here to help. All right, I’m sure we’ll be talking about this kind of stuff at Renew Your Mind Bootcamp this week. Come on over there, hang out with us. But you can also just contact me directly. Head on over to Rympodcast.com to get on the bootcamp information list or connect with me directly. Whatever you need, I am here for you. All right? Remember, while you’re there, this is the week right now to sign up for boot camp. If you want the workbook or be in the drawing, you got to do it by March 25. After that, you can still join the Facebook community, and the videos will be there. But now is the time. Stop thinking about it. Go do it. All right, y’all, that’s it for today. So I will catch you next week. Take care, you. 

As an advanced certified life coach, I help Christian women trying to live their best lives, but they still feel unsatisfied and stuck. I teach thought management skills that work so you can enjoy life again and step into who God has created you to be. Don’t forget to head on over to Rympodcast dot um.com to get my free resources or a free coaching call.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This