Automatic worrying

A lot of our everyday behaviour is automatic. Our unconscious just takes over and acts as our helpful personal assistant. It does things without our awareness. Our conscious mind can't do all the work, it would mean we would always be learner drivers, never able to drive without that level of close attention that was necessary when we were learning. Our unconscious mind is quick and efficient and does all the heavy lifting. This is usually helpful, but sometimes gets in the way.

So the unconscious mind chops the onions and drives the car. We may become aware of these things, but when we shift our awareness away again, the unconscious keeps doing working.  It keeps our legs moving when we decide to walk somewhere, it knows how to make the beds. So is shouldn't be surprising that the unconscious takes over in other ways too, such as automatically sending us down the worry road.

When you learn to tie your shoes, ride a bicycle or play the flute, your brain gradually develops the neural pathways so these things become automatic. The more you practice, the more those pathways develop. Fairly soon, you know how to tie your shoes and you don't think about it anymore. Your unconscious just does it for you. It is like this with worry.

The thing that starts the worry off is usually spotted without your conscious awareness, and once you are worrying, the unconscious starts to point out all the potential dangers it can think of. This becomes such a well-trodden path that you arrive in this worry mode in a flash. Your unconscious knows the route so well. It knows all the previous incidents that provide evidence of threat or vulnerability and it forgets about events in the past that suggest the opposite.

So with chronic worry, most of the trouble has begun before you even know it. Negative neural pathways have developed. The good news is that you can develop positive neural pathways, and you can learn to break into this automatic cycle. As a result, you can break the pattern of worrying. Surprisingly quickly with cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy. Because hypnosis reaches the unconscious part of your brain where all the automatic responses live.

Are you aware of this automatic work that your unconscious is doing? Tell us about it.

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