Do you worry alone? Or do you share your worry with others? Does it matter? Apparently it does. I recently heard Ned Hallowell speak about this topic and, as he described the pitfalls of solo worry, it gave me a bit of a personal epiphany I want to share. Hallowell, an MD, is a leading authority on ADD and ADHD and he is the Director of the Hallowell Centers in NYC and Sudbury, Massachusetts. With eleven books to his credit, including Driven to Distraction (1994) and Delivered from Distraction (2005) Hallowell certainly knows his way around the distracted mind. However, it was advice he gave on the topic of worry that piqued my curiosity. “Never worry alone.” Hallowell warned. Since this is the opposite of what i do – I always worry alone – it really grabbed my attention.
Hallowell went on to add that when we worry alone, worry becomes toxic, we omit the facts, withdraw and isolate ourselves. Worrying alone is what I do. In fact, I go to great measures to pretend that everything is going be alright even when I really believe it is not. I fake it. I pretend. I spend money I don’t have. When I worry in silence, I slap a smile on it, maybe I become a bit sullen or snippy at times, but I do not trouble others with my worry. What’s your worry strategy? Can you relate to my terribly toxic strategy of independent struggle or do you have worry support in place?
Hallowell went on to say that those of us who worry alone miss out on the problem solving aspect of having a worry partner. I would like to add, that when we worry alone, we fail to process the dilemma, the pain, the heartbreak, the fear, and thus may become stuck in the trauma of it. Additionally, we abstain from the compassion others might provide us when we need it most. I can absolutely attest to solo worry’s toxic powers, but until I heard Ned Hallowell speak, I simply hadn’t put it all together.
Worrying alone is dangerous, bad for your mental health and can lead to a host of bad things. Get a therapist, get a worry partner, get a coach, get someone, but don’t go it alone. The toxic tempest of solo worry is to be avoided at all cost lest this psychological storm wreak havoc in your life. Don’t worry. At least not alone.