As an anxious kid, I picked up the habit of pre-emptive worrying. Much in the same way happy-go-lucky kids absent-mindedly pick a dandelion, blow and make a wish while walking home from school.

Wait…kids nowadays don’t actually walk home from school, do they?

Helicopter parenting and visual appeal aside, when I blew on the flower, I had a mental ritual, “Please don’t let….happen to me.”

Whether ‘pre-emptive worrying’ is the correct term, I know not. What I do know—it practically drove me crazy. Maybe you can relate.

Here’s the thing (before the thing, or why you clicked on this title to begin with): psychological habits designed to protect us in childhood, oftentimes no longer serve us in adulthood. And please don’t blow this one off because it’s key to changing your nervous mindset. My hope is you’ll recognize yourself below and vow to lose this awful, anxiety-inducing habit, once and for all.

Driving yourself crazy with ‘Pre-emptive Worry’:

1. You have an anxious constitution to begin with (you can thank/blame your folks for bestowing that DNA gift).

2. You learn to think about the worst-case scenario (AKA catastrophic thinking) about some event in the future. Your eight year old brain internalizes that if you worry yourself senseless, maybe, just maybe…the outcome won’t turn out nearly as bad as you thought. (So sad. And for what it’s worth, I’d like to hug your inner child right now 🙁  )

3. Because the worst scenario doesn’t happen… you falsely believe this ritual prevents the worst-case scenario from occurring because “it works.” So you breathe a sigh of relief (briefly, because if you’re too confident you risk tempting the health, happiness, safety, or whichever Gods) and you go about your 3rd grade life and look forward to tether ball at recess, or that extra cookie mom packed for your lunch, until the next worrisome thought invades your precious mental space… and,

4. You repeat the pre-emptive worrying cycle.

So how does a well-intention worried-well-er recover?

In a nutshell (pardon the pun), focus on self-awareness. Train your brain to transfer that habitual tendency from worrying about ‘what if’ to thinking “I will do…., instead.” (*Hint* slow, deep-breathing is always a good start).

It’s that easy and that hard.


If you find yourself in the latter category, “Calming Your Anxious Mind” can help. This video and audio based tutorial helps you switch out your automatic, self-defeating thoughts and actions for a healthier, happier, more relaxed, and in control you.

Click here to checkout Team Happy’s entire psychological library.

Click here to get the stand-alone module. For less than two cups of joe, my friend, peace of mind can be yours.

Yours in ‘calm is an inside job,’
—Linda Esposito