What triggers worrying

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

What triggers worrying

You were having happy thoughts and totally unaware of anything that could make you feel bad but all of a sudden something negative came to your mind and you started worrying.

What has just happened?
And why your thoughts suddenly became negative even though they were good moments ago?

Here are some important facts you need to understand about worrying:

  • 1) Not worrying doesn't mean that you are not a worry prone person: Some people might mistakenly believe that if they didn't worry during certain phases of their lives then they might not have the tendency to worry. A person who worries will usually not worry much if everything is going well. Now as soon as troubles happen the real nature of the person who worries will show up. See Worrying results from doubts about your problem solving skills
  • 2) External triggers lead to worrying: Let's suppose that you were happily watching TV then suddenly saw an Ad that reminded you of a problem that you are worried about. In such a case your thoughts might shift right away and you might start worrying
  • 3) Internal triggers cause worrying: The previous point might explain why you sometimes worry when feedback comes from the external world but what about times where you start to worry all of sudden for no apparent reason? In such a case there are two possibilities. Either a subtle external trigger forced you to think in a direction that led to worrying or either your own negative thoughts promoted worrying. See what causes mood swings.

How to avoid triggers that lead to worrying

First of all let me make it clear that avoiding the triggers alone isn't enough to help you end worrying. After all you will still be prone to worrying if you came across any of them by accident. See also How to stop worrying immediately.

However this doesn't mean that avoiding worrying for some time won't improve your life greatly. In fact this method can help you worry less while you are on your way to treat your worrying problem. See The real reasons behind worrying.

So how can you stop yourself from coming across those triggers that lead to worrying?
Here is what you need to do:

  • 1) Make a list of primary triggers: Make a list of the topics or the things that force you to start worrying as soon as you think of them. If for example as soon as you talk about price increases you remember your financial problems then write that topic down in the list
  • 2) Make a list of secondary , or subtle, triggers: This can be a little tricky but it can be done once you learn how to observe your thoughts. Many subtle triggers can actually force your brain to worry. Learn how to identify those subtle triggers and avoid them.
  • 3) Avoid those triggers: Once the triggers are identified it's time to start avoiding them completely as much as you can. See also Thinking strategies that lead to worrying

Never ignore your problems

Avoiding the triggers doesn't meant that you will leave your problems unsolved. This technique should be used to help you avoid worrying while doing something totally unrelated to the problem or while enjoying your time. After all you won't want to keep worrying about the future or the next day when you try to enjoy your time or get some sleep.

The only way to end worrying for good is to adopt a long term strategy that can help you solve the problems leading to worrying. If you didn't do so you will just be escaping and this won't help you stop worrying.

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