Blog post written by FionaWorthington Clinical Hypnotherapist and Cognitive Behavioural Coach at the Putney Clinic looks at how self-knowledge helps us change habits and keep those New Year resolutions.

If you worry more than you would like, try this simple tip. What is worry? “Worry is not based upon what is likely to happen. Worries are based on what would be terrible if it did happen. They are not based upon probability they are based on fear” David Carbonell.

We all worry, the odd worry is not usually a problem. Worries can be constructive if they result in action, but for some of us there are times when we get caught up in a cyclone of worries. These are the chronic worriers. Worries generally start with the prefix “what if ….and lead into some sort of catastrophe.

a. What if I lose my job?

b. What if I get sick and can’t work?

c. What if my presentation goes wrong and they all think I am useless?

When we are in a worry phase, we do things that we think will ameliorate the worry. Things like seeking reassurance from people, googling, we try to solve it by thinking even more, or we try to get rid of the worrisome thought. Trouble is none of these things work. We can’t get rid of worries like this. Worries are just thoughts and the more we try to get rid of them the more they come. If I said to you now “don’t think of a pink elephant” I bet anything you will have done. Daniel Wegner studied thought suppression and showed that when we try to suppress our thoughts not only do they come back, they come back worse!

So, what can we do?

In order for us to handle worries better, first we need to accept that we can’t control our thoughts. Instead we have to change the relationship with them. One way to change your relationship with worry is to write them down.

When you are going through a bout of worry. Get a notebook and write the worries down. Write them exactly as they come into your head. If you keep writing the same thing that’s okay, write it just like that. Don’t skip over it, and summarise it, or edit it, write it just as you hear it in your head. If you have to write the same thing 10 times over that’s fine keep doing it.

1. When we write things down, we free up resources in our brain to complete tasks.

2. When we worry its unfocussed but when we write it down it becomes more focused.

3. Writing it down enables us to see how repetitive the worry is, and how unhelpful the content can be.

4. Seeing it on paper the perspective may change.

5. Seeing your worries written down creates physical distance between what is in your head and the piece of paper. You may find the meaning changes. It might not be so intense. So just like going to the gym and learning to lift weights it’s about the practice. The more you practice writing the worries down, the more your brain will learn to trust where you store those worries. You will create distance between you and worry and change the relationship with the worry. Give it a try and let me know how it goes. Ref. Hans S. Schroder, Tim P. Moran, Jason S. Moser. The effect of expressive writing on the error-related negativity among individuals with chronic worry.

Fiona Worthington –

Fiona offers a range of Physchological Services at the Putney Clinic.


Wegner, Daniel M. White bears and other unwanted thoughts: Suppression, obsession, and the psychology of mental control. London: The Guilford Pressif you worry more than you would like try this simple tip