Six Tips for Expert Worrying

This morning I spent a ridiculous amount of energy worrying about things. I appreciate that people might not understand exactly what the fine art of worry involves, so here are a few pointers. I hope it all makes sense, as at the moment I am a bit worried about all the other things I could be doing on this train journey. And also I am concerned that this post might not be funny. Also, the man next to me on the train can see the book I am supposed to be reading but instead I am checking Twitter… I bet he thinks I am a hypocrite…

Anyway, what was I saying? Ah yes. How to worry. Six tips.

1. Mind about other people’s feelings.

First, you need to be concerned about their lives, triumphs and failures, tempests and calmness. That is a good thing. Try to be a friend to people. They need it. Be kind.

 You can really get to grips with worrying when you mind how they perceive you and whether you said or did the right thing. If you can focus on a remark or an incident that is uncomfortable so much the better – replay it, wondering how the other person might have received it. Don’t worry about whether they’ve completely forgotten about it – the more trivial the better. If you can kick yourself at having thought of a better answer, go for it. Their entire opinion of you might be bound up in that one incident.

 2. Don’t ask questions. Just assume it’s your fault. 

For example, you could mind for a year that you weren’t added to a particular rota after having volunteered for it. Of course you could have just reminded the organiser about the conversation but it is much better to assume they didn’t want you in particular, After all – they probably thought you weren’t up to the task. Discount the idea they had forgotten and do not bring it up again.

 3. Set high standards for yourself.

 Judge yourself accordingly on the ability to meet those standards. Assume other people judge you too. Do not accept others’ praise of you – they really don’t know you, or they would not think you are worthy of praise. And if you do achieve something, assume it is easy, because otherwise how could someone like you have managed it?

 4. Pick your cause.

 Don’t bother with the big things in life. World peace, famine – you can’t do much about those. Focus on something theoretically attainable that might be a good idea, but has several hurdles to overcome. Think about the hurdles, how high they are, how inexperienced and unequipped you are and how other people will laugh tin hats when you tell them you’re thinking about entering that particular race. Don’t waste precious worrying time on considering sources of support or how you might tackle each obstacle in turn. Think big, scary picture, not how it might break down. All or nothing – there is no other possiblity.

 5. Focus on failure.

Imagine all the things you could get wrong if you tried them. In fact – are you even worrying properly? Are you sure? Expect criticism. Structure your day accordingly.

 6. Be afraid of disappointing others.

 Add a little more pressure by assuming parents’ approval is based on your success and failing to do something or finding things difficult will mean they’re disappointed in you. Do not understand the difference between someone being disappointed for you and someone being disappointed in you. Do everything you can to ensure you do not let people down, and if this causes disproportionate anxiety so much the better. Never be late.

 There is more… far more. Imagine adding faith into the mix. Are you praying correctly…?


  1. I don’t understand how you could so accurately describe the way I live my life without actually being me…

  2. Ha! I enjoyed this.
    I am an expert worrier. Do they give out qualifications or Olympics-style awards? It would be nice to win something!

  3. I think Monty Python wrote a song about this…are you worried about the baggage retrieval system they’ve got at Heathrow?

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