Everybody worries from time to time. This is normal. You may even wake up in the middle of the night and start worrying! It can be like a tape in your head keeps going and going.

Worries are usually about bad things that MIGHT happen in the future, however unlikely in reality. Worries often start with the words “What if?” Examples could be:

  • “What if we get caught in traffic tomorrow and I’m late for the game? Coach will be so angry at me and kick me off the team.”
  • “What if I chose the wrong topic for my essay and then change my mind halfway through, and then it’s too late, and I do a really crappy job?”

But Isn’t Worrying Sometimes Helpful?

Some people think worrying is actually good. Do you have any of these beliefs?

Myth #1: Worrying shows I am a caring person.

If you believe this, you might think, “Because I worry about my family, it proves I love and care about them,” or “People know me as the worrier; I’m the one who worries and cares for people.”

Myth #2: Worrying helps me to be prepared and to solve problems.

Examples of this belief include: “If I worry about what I might forget to pack for my trip, I will remember to bring everything,” and “When I worry about my problems, I am more likely to solve them.”

Myth #3: Worrying motivates me.

If you believe this, then you might say to yourself, “Worrying about school motivates me to study,” or “If I didn’t worry about how I look, I would never go to the gym, and I’d become a lazy slob!”

Myth #4: Worrying protects me from feeling bad later.

If you believe this, then you probably think that worrying about bad things is like “money in the bank.” If you worry about bad things now, you won’t be so upset if the bad thing actually happens. Like it prepares you somehow. An example of this type of belief: “If my boyfriend/girlfriend breaks up with me and I didn’t worry about it beforehand, it would come as total shock, and I wouldn’t be able to handle it.”

Myth #5: Worrying prevents bad things from happening.

If you believe this, you might think that your worries are somehow (magically!) preventing something from happening, for example, “I get good grades because I worry about school and my future; if I stopped worrying for even a day, something bad would happen and I’d would probably fail,” or “If I worry about my sister being in a car accident, then she won’t be in one.”

Next: How You Can Rethink Your Worries