Psychiatry & Psychology--General/"What if".....

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Question
I've always been a worrier, and I understand that thinking a negative 'But what if...' is not good to do. And that most of them  don't come to pass, that's what they say anyway. But lately a lot of my 'what ifs' have come true, legitimizing all the worrying in a way. How can I not let that reinforce or cause me to keep worrying about things and saying 'what if,' when they do in fact often come true?

Answer
Hi Lee

If a person never worried about anything, how long would that person last?  We worry for a reason. After all, some worrying is adaptive and protective.

The key word here is "reason" because it's often a matter of distinguishing between realistic and fanciful perils, those within and beyond our control, and those we should and need not respond to.

A second aspect in your case is not necessarily the worrying but the worrying about the worrying. It's like having a pain. Pain also has a vital purpose, but if it's overly concerning, that itself could become a problem.

I hope the above comments will be adequately helpful, but if not, there are mental-health professionals who are trained to deal with exactly your experiences. If you'd like to give this a try and don't know how or have other concerns, please send me a follow-up. Telling me some (non-identifiable) information about yourself and your worry-pattern might help me be more specific.

In the meantime, thanks for asking us, and the best of fortune to you.

Alan

Psychiatry & Psychology--General

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Alan Auerbach

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Taught psychology for 30 years, authored four textbooks. Specialize in introductory and industrial/organizational psychology, but will tackle wider range of areas.

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