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Dear Dr. Rob: How Do I Stop Being Such a Worry Wart?

By Dr. Rob Carpenter:

For many, worrying is a way of life. For example, people worry about their bills, their health, their grades and/or work, their family, and many other things.

Whether your specific worries are big or small, they matter to you—and they matter to me, too. But here’s the thing: sometimes when you worry too much, not only can you stress yourself out but you can also blind yourself from being able to access the types of solutions you will need to overcome the things preoccupying your mind. Nevertheless, these preoccupations can be overcome if you’re smart about it and put in a little work. Here’s how:

To overcome being a worry wart, start to journal what is bothering you.

While it is true that worrying may make you feel like you’re being “mature,” “responsible,” or “in control,” it is more true that it is a sign you have probably not yet figured out how to manage your mental perceptions or emotional reactions to your problems (as challenging as it is to hear this, I only say this with love, not criticism or judgment, as I used to be in the same position myself). The reality is that most of what may be bothering you is probably that you perceive that your struggles can never be overcome or that they are too much for you to handle (right now), and as a consequence, you tend to stress out and get bogged down into being a worry wart.

In other words, the reason you tend to worry so much is because of your perspective on the things that are bothering you. However, if you change your perspective, you can lessen your worrying dramatically. To begin to do this, all you have to do is start journaling your thoughts and emotions about the things preoccupying you, and you will start to see how limited your perspective may be about them. For example, you may think that a particular problem is the end of the world (or the end of your world), but when you write it on paper, you will see that you just simply have to think about it differently (i.e., that it is not the end of the world but just an indication that you may have to change things in your thought process or life to make your mental perceptions healthier or more realistic).

To overcome being a worry wart, research specific solutions to what is worrying you.

Part of the reason many people worry too much is because they have not looked for, believed in, implemented, or been patient with (results for) proven solutions to their problems. Put differently, part of the reason people worry so much is either because they are not knowledgeable about the things they are worried about or because they do not trust solutions for these things. For example, if somebody is worried about losing their car because they are behind on car payments, they may not have looked into repayment financing options or options they have to trade-in their car or get transportation if their car is repossessed. They are simply so worried about their car being repossessed that they are not thinking rationally about how to stop it or how they may rebound if the car is repossessed (which is not as horrifying as they think it is, as millions of other people have bounced back from having their cars repossessed).

To overcome being a worry wart, set aside a specific amount of time each day or each week to worry.

By scheduling only a limited amount of time to deal with the thing (or things) bothering you, you can keep yourself from being stressed for too long. This will help you stay focused on being productive and progressing toward your goals on a daily basis instead of staying stuck in worry or fear over the things weighing you down.

If you can journal what’s bothering you; research (and be patient enough to implement) proven solutions for how to overcome what’s bothering you; and set aside a short time to worry every so often you can begin to overcome being a worry wart. Now this may take time, but when you finally overcome this negative label and condition you will be so grateful you put in the work to do it.


Dr. Rob is an author, filmmaker, and host of The Dr. Rob Show. He advises celebrities, pro athletes, and everyday people on how to live their best lives and has been published in The Oxford Business Review and The Harvard Journal for Public Health, among others. His book, The 48 Laws of Happiness: Secrets Revealed For Becoming the Happiest You, is available where books are sold.

Read our interview with Dr. Rob here!

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