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Controlling It And Using It Wisely
by Edward M. Hallowell, M.D.
Worry by Edward Hallowell is an excellent self-help book to read for people who feel they worry too much. It is also great introduction to the academic and clinical treatment of worry.
Worry teaches us that people, by evolutionary design, worry. Worry results from the combination of fear and the ability to create abstract thoughts. Worry is the natural result of combining "What if?" with fear. Fear, like pain, is a natural mechanism to protect people.
It was smart to be afraid of the Saber-toothed tiger that was looking at you. It told you that you had a problem to deal with. We are wired for fear as Hallowell writes. People without any fears tend not to live long under dangerous environments.
Yet, as humans developed more sophisticated brains, which gave us other adaptational survival advantages, we naturally started thinking about what could go wrong in our lives. We began worrying and became somewhat neurotic as a species.
Now some worry is natural and good, but Hallowell discusses "toxic" worry, where one worries relentlessly about something that probably should be given less thought than it is receiving.
The book gives great practical advice for dealing with worry, such as sharing your concerns with others, and exercise. Exercise tends to divert the mind from its worries and helps the mind deal with worry.
Also, Hallowell points out the obvious, but often-overlooked things we can do to reduce our worry about some such thing. For example, getting the facts about the thing that concerns us, and then taking some action to overcome the lurking danger that is concerning us. Certainly, this beats endlessly ruminating on our fears.
For most people, the chapter "The Management Of Worry Without Medication" will be the most useful.
Hallowell writes that we should try to distinguish between toxic worry and the healthy variety and just as we feel ourselves becoming enmeshed in toxic worry, we should do something to reset our mind by doing something that distracts us from the worry. Again, exercise is an example.
The discussion of the relationship between worry and genetics is very interesting as is learning that worry adversely affects our bodies. Hence, the label of "toxic."
Finally, a clinical psychologist after our own heart, Hallowell suggests saving money for a rainy day and not doing things that you know to be wrong.
This book also mentions more extreme solutions such as Prozac and cingulotomy (that's a lobotomy, in case you're wondering) Did we mention this is not just another feel-good self-help book? Hallowell is a senior lecturer at Harvard Medical School. Plus he's a really good speaker.
If you feel you might have a problem with worry, this book is probably the best book on the subject. It will give you an easy-to-read introduction to worry, great tips for overcoming your worries and will help you decide if you need professional help for your worries. Don't worry, read this book and be happy.