Summary of Chapter Four in The End of Worry: Why We Worry and How to Stop by Will Van der Hart and Rob Waller. Will is a  pastor working in London and Rob is a Christian psychiatrist. Both are recovering worriers.

1. Worry is like a weed. If we just prune the top branches, it will soon grow back.

2. Worry damages low self-esteem. It undermines our confidence in the things we know are true and makes us doubt all our decisions. 

3. 70% of people with GAD experience depression at some point. This is because they tend to focus on negative events and make negative forecasts.

4. Most problematic worry has some core worry rules. These rules act like fertilizer that surrounds our worry plant. “Worry rules are the opposite of God’s grace to us: they are always absolutes; they are harsh and judgmental in tone and completely inflexible.”

5. “Worry rules” and “worry beliefs” often appear to be helpful attitudes or outlooks. That’s why people are often reluctant to change them.

6. Three characteristics to help spot “worry rules” are:

  • Shoulds, musts, and oughts. (e.g. “I should be able to do this more easily”)
  • Always and never. (e.g. “Things never work out for me.”)
  • Consequences or if-then rules. (e.g. “If I am nice to people, then I will have lots of friends)

Until we change or re-evaluate our worry rules, we will not pull worry out by the roots.

7. “Worry beliefs” actually champion worry as a good thing. These beliefs are the greatest obstacles to healing and recovery, mainly because we think they are actually helping us. They include:

  • Worry aids problem-solving
  • Worry helps to motivate
  • Worry prevents things going wrong
  • Worry protects from difficult emotions if things do go wrong
  • Worry makes for nicer people.

8. Learning to break worry rules and doubt worry beliefs is the way to healing. There are three simple ways  to do so:

  • Challenge the weakest first. Undermining one worry rule will weaken all the others.
  • Challenge the logic. See the inevitable hole and flaws in your rules and beliefs.
  • Challenge the benefits. Ask how do you benefit from adhering to this worry rule and how would you benefit from breaking it.

9. Changing your behavior will change some of your worry feelings. Despite the feelings, do what you fear doing and more positive feelings will generally follow. “Overcoming worry rules in a challenge where you must lead, but you undertake it with Jesus, reliant on his comfort and encouragement.”

The End of Worry: Why We Worry and How to Stop by Will Van der Hart and Rob Waller.