Are You Your Own Worst Enemy?
Everyone obsesses now and again—it's human nature. But brooding can become
self-sabotaging when you waste so much time and energy mulling over a problem
that you never manage to do anything about it, explains Strober. Research also
shows that in women, brooding can lead to depression and anxiety, which can
leave you emotionally paralyzed and unable to act.
What to do:
Keep a worry diary. Several studies have found that patients who write about
their concerns experience significantly less depression than those who don't.
"By writing down your fears, you begin to feel that you're more in control,
and that helps you deal with them," explains Rebecca Curtis, Ph.D., a New
York City-based psychologist and a professor of psychology at Adelphi
Sherri Bohinc, 32, an advertising account executive in San Francisco, gives
herself an hour to type up a worry list on her computer once a week. "All
my anxieties come out," she says. "Should I become a full-time mom, or
continue my career? Did I respond appropriately to my boss's criticism, or did
I not? Putting it all out there helps me not think about it for another
week." The strategy works, says Curtis, because it gives you a sense of
having addressed the concern and allows you to feel comfortable not thinking
about it obsessively.
Curtis also suggests that you try this simple visualization exercise: Form a
mental picture of your worry, then imagine a positive resolution. "For
instance, if you're worried that your boss doesn't like your performance,
picture yourself going into her office and having a heart-to-heart in which she
praises you for your work," Curtis says. "Imagine it in as much detail
as you can—what you see, hear, and feel." You don't have to follow through
and actually do it, but "imagining a good outcome will help you feel much
more positive, and it will be easier to let the worry go."
Like brooding, jealousy can set you up for self-sabotage by distracting you
from what you need to do to solve the problem. "Rather than focusing on
what's really wrong with your situation, and what you can do to improve it, you
make someone else—a friend or a coworker—into a scapegoat," explains Dr.
Jackman. "And then it's really easy to just give up."
What to do:
When you're jealous, you focus on everything you aren't and everything you
haven't done. (After all, if you were happy with your own accomplishments, you
wouldn't need to feel jealous of someone else's.) So flip your thinking: If
you're starting a home business, don't worry about your friend who was up and
running in two months flat. "Focus on the three new clients you did
get—rather than on the 20 who went with the other guy," says Kauffman.
"And while you're brushing your teeth tonight, ask yourself what you did
right today. You'll be surprised at how much you accomplished."