Steps To Turn Toxic Worry Into Productive Worry

This is a transcript of the podcast Distraction, your survival guide to our crazy-busy, ever-connected modern world hosted by Dr. Edward Hallowell, ADHD expert Dr. Hallowell gives advice with a 3 step process to turn toxic worry into productive worry.

Mini Episode 12: Don’t Worry, Do This Instead!

DR. HALLOWELL: Hi, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell, thank you for joining us for this Mini Distraction. Like our full-length show, these Mini’s will be different every time, only shorter. It’s a busy world, and you don’t have a lot of time. These episodes are for you. We all worry and we should. Life gives us a lot to worry about. I differentiate between productive worry, what I call, good worry, and, toxic worry, worry that is really bad for you.

productive worry

Difference Between Productive Worry and Toxic Worry

Productive worry is problem-solving. Your back account is running low, so you sit down and plan how you’re going to fill it up again. Or, you have a mole on your forearm and you say, “Gee, is that a melanoma?” You go to your dermatologist and get it checked out, that’s constructive worry. Toxic worry, on the other hand, paralyzes you, it freezes you up. You see that mole on your forearm, and you go into a state of denial or shock and you say, “Oh my god, I’m going to die of cancer.” You don’t take any constructive action.

Step 1 – Never Worry Alone

Toxic worry is rampant in the world today, because people are so disconnected. They’re connected electronically, but they’re disconnected inter-personally, so they don’t have the prime antidote to toxic worry, which is another person. My first rule of worry control is never worry alone. If you don’t have anyone nearby to worry with, worry tends to become toxic. It tends to fester. It tends to globalize and awfulize, so, the antidote is to connect with another person. Never worry alone.

Step 2 – Get the Facts

Step number two, is get the facts. Toxic worry is usually rooted in wrong information or, lack of information, or both.

Step 3 – Make a Plan

Step three, is make a plan. If you have a plan you’re going to be less worried, because you’ll feel more in control. The basic equation of worry is the combination of heightened feelings of vulnerability, coupled with diminished feelings of power and control, and, that leads to toxic worry. Having a plan makes you feel more in control and less vulnerable. Hence, the worry subsides.

Mind you, it’s an internal issue, worry. It’s not… the external reality is irrelevant. It’s how you feel about the external reality not the state of the external reality, and, that simple, three-step plan will save you many prescriptions of Prozac. Never worry alone. Get the facts. Make a plan. The first step being the most powerful. Prove it to yourself. If you’re in a big warehouse, in the dark, by yourself you feel frightened, paranoid. If you’re in a big, dark warehouse with someone, you laugh. Having another person there immediately detoxifies worry. It all comes back to the power of connection, the theme that I stress in all of these podcasts. The power of connection, the beautiful tool that’s right there for the taking, that’s infinite in supply, is free of charge. People just don’t realize how important and powerful it is.

Closing Statements

That’s it … If you have an issue or question or a suggestion call us, toll-free at 844-55CONNECT. Or, email at [email protected]. Or, go to our website at to hear more mini and full-length episodes, subscribe to Distraction on iTunes, and, thanks so much for listening.

This is a transcript of the podcast Distraction, “Don’t Worry, Do This Instead!”. Distraction is available on iTunes


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