The More You Know, The More You Worry

photo from Anne Allanketner
photo from Anne Allanketner

Perhaps you thought that if you were smart, you wouldn’t be a worrier. If you were smart, you’d know all of the answers. You wouldn’t have to be anxious because you could think your way out of any problem.

But, in fact, you may worry constantly. You worry when you’re sleeping. When you’re hiking. When you’re cooking. When you’re driving. When you’re not worrying.

So what’s with that?

Let me explain.

Your very active rainforest mind is able to dream up so many things to worry about. Less complex minds may worry less because there isn’t as much thinking. With you, there’s lots of thinking. And if you’re highly creative? Watch out. Even more worries.

Add to this, your capacity to notice things that others don’t. More to notice, more to worry about.

And, of course, if you have deeply held ethical beliefs around justice issues and if you’re sensitive to the suffering of all beings, then, well, there might be a teensy weensy bit of anxiety in your world.

See what I’m saying?

I understand that you think that you ought to worry less because, as a smart person, you’re supposed to be a great problem solver. And maybe you are a great problem solver.

That may not stop the worry.

Of course, there might be complicating factors. Trauma in childhood might make you anxious today. Pressure and expectations due to your smartness might make you nervous. Hormone imbalances and illness might cause anxiety. You could be a parent.

Complicating factors.

It’s not easy to sort it all out. But I’m here to suggest that there’s a connection between your rainforest mind and your capacity for worry.

What, then, can be done, when a lobotomy isn’t an option?

1. Read this other post with its list of fabulous suggestions. Then, do some of them.

2. Try one of the research-based guided imagery CDs produced by psychologist Belleruth Naparstek. She has CDs on anxiety, stress reduction and many more topics.

3. Read the research from the Heartmath Institute and see if you might want to try one of their devices to improve what they call your “heart rate variability” and reduce your stress.

4. Experiment with a technique called yoga nidra. It’s one way to calm your nervous system and feel connected to the earth and your spirituality. There are free recorded guided meditations here.

5. Get hugged by someone you love, including your animals. Breathe and feel the connection deeply in your body.

6. Consider working with a team of sensitive, capable practitioners (naturopaths, physical therapists, psychotherapists, doctors, healers, shamans, teachers, artists, etc.) who will help you find the best tools for your particular needs. You’re complicated so there’s no one practitioner or one technique that will be the perfect answer. You don’t have to be alone with your anxiety. Even though you tend to solve problems for others and you may be the smartest person in the room at any particular time, don’t give up on finding help for yourself.

You may be naturally inclined to worry. Because you think a lot, it’s easy to slip into an anxious state. You have a mind that needs to be active, questioning, and dancing. Imagine that if you get more intellectual stimulation, you will worry less.

And, if all else fails, go for beauty. See the gorgeousness of the flower, the rainstorm, the laughing children. And the beauty of you. Worries and all.


To my bloggEEs: Let us know what you worry about and how you find ways to calm and soothe yourself. If you’re a parent, these ideas apply to your children, too!

This post is part of a collection of posts about anxiety, gifted children and gifted adults. For more fascinating reading, click on the link below.

Author: Paula Prober

I’m a psychotherapist and consultant in private practice based in Eugene, Oregon. I specialize in international consulting with gifted adults and parents of gifted children. I’ve been a teacher and an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon and a frequent guest presenter at Oregon State University and Pacific University. I’ve written articles on giftedness for the Eugene Register-Guard, the Psychotherapy Networker, Advanced Development Journal and online for psychotherapy dot net, Rebelle Society, Thrive, Introvert Dear, and Highly Sensitive Refuge. My first book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, is a collection of case studies of gifted clients along with many strategies and resources for gifted adults and teens. My second book, Journey Into Your Rainforest Mind: A Field Guide for Gifted Adults and Teens, Book Lovers, Overthinkers, Geeks, Sensitives, Brainiacs, Intuitives, Procrastinators, and Perfectionists is a collection of my most popular blog posts along with writing exercises for self-exploration and insight.

32 responses to “The More You Know, The More You Worry”

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  1. Gifted In Finland — What Are Gifted Adults Like Across Cultures? | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] ruminating but this is different from your capacity to think. With anxiety, you will want to learn how to self-soothe and calm your nervous system. With thinking, well, I say, keep […]

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    […] Piles of responsibility. Nonstop thinking. Teeming emotion. Disabling perfectionism. Excessive worry. Astonishing intuition. Unquenchable thirst for learning. Pressure to always know the right answer. […]

  3. gailen Avatar

    I am so glad I found this page. I am so overly activated and sensitive, hyper sensitive, as I have told all of my life. I am also gifted and have amind, that doesn’t stop. Some days, its a heaven, like today. Others, a hell. I have agifted son, and he is also hyper sensitive and anxious. The what ifs. Do you work with people through skype, or who live far away?

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I’m only licensed in Oregon to do counseling but I consult internationally. I’ll consult with parents about their gifted children and also with gifted adults. A consultation is educational. Looking at the traits of giftedness and how they impact your life versus counseling around family of origin issues, emotional processing, and trauma. If you have more questions, you can send a note via my About page. Thanks for your comment.

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    […] And, of course, find ways to take care of yourself when your thoughts turn into anxiety or paralysis or sleeplessness. Give yourself permission to self-soothe. Whatever that looks like for you. If you need some ideas, try this post on anxiety and this one on worry. […]

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    […] will benefit. You know this but you still don’t do it. Am I right? Remind yourself that your self-care will be good modeling for your kids. When you feel guilty, tell yourself that you’re doing […]

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  10. dmstauber Avatar

    I talk, in writing, to the part of me that’s worried. It’s usually one of the same few child selves that always show up–Wrong Thing Me, Out-of-Control Me, and so on. I try to really listen to that self so that she feels heard, and then make a safe place for her to go, reminding her that she doesn’t have to deal with the situation–my adult self will do that. This has helped me a lot! But I do also need anxiety medication, and I’m very grateful that it works for me.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks for sharing the process that you use And, yes, there are times when medication is a very important, necessary tool. Always appreciate hearing from you!

  11. Rosemarie Eisenberg Avatar
    Rosemarie Eisenberg

    Really good article, Paula. I am glad you mentioned Guided Imagery. We all know our thoughts affect our physiology. That works for good and bad. I am often amazed at how deeply calmed many clients are when they go through this process. Many of those who have said things like….I never relax, come out of their session saying things like, I’ve never felt so relaxed. Our imagination and thoughts are so powerful and where we focus them are so important. Guided Imagery, meditation, mindfulness and hypnosis are all powerful ways to create that peaceful, calm within.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Hi Rosemarie! So nice to know that you’re following my blog. Do you have any particular guided imagery resources that you would recommend– besides yourself? (excellent hypnotherapist for those of you in Eugene, OR and environs) Thanks for writing.

      1. Rosemarie Eisenberg Avatar
        Rosemarie Eisenberg

        I, like you, think Belleruth Naparstat is wonderful. Marty Rossman and David Bressler, co founders of the Academy for Guided Imagery are great also.

  12. Gail Post, Ph.D. Avatar
    Gail Post, Ph.D.

    Great ideas, Paula. I really like your point about how people with active minds have to manage their worrying more than others. It validates the experience and makes it seem more understandable, since so many anxious people also feel shame about it.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks, Gail. I appreciate your sensitivity to this topic and so many others. You’re a great resource.

  13. Cait Fitz @ My Little Poppies Avatar
    Cait Fitz @ My Little Poppies

    I love the hug suggestion, Paula. They work wonders!

  14. The Common Mom (@TheCommonMom) Avatar
    The Common Mom (@TheCommonMom)

    I find that my daughter tends to worry most about things that are completely beyond her, or anyone’s, control.

    “Get hugged by someone you love, including your animals. Breathe and feel the connection deeply in your body.” This usually works for us. Thanks for sharing suggestions – we need them!

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks for commenting. You’ll find more ideas for your daughter in the other posts if you click on the link.

  15. byamtich Avatar

    This is what I needed to hear at this moment: “You’re complicated so there’s no one practitioner or one technique that will be the perfect answer.”

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Bob. Glad to be helpful!

  16. hotelaccessibilitycom Avatar

    Hi Paula, I so love the way you write! I am a super worrior/warrior. I have daily battles. My worst fear is health issues. I always freeze when my kids have something or me. I have always worried about the planet/wildlife/poverty etc etc.
    my remedy is being surrounded by nature (have to leave the city for that) and listen to the soundtrack of the movie A river runs through it.
    Others don’t often get my worries. Think I dramatize and don’t take me seriously. i always know and feel danger/change before others, so they don’t see the problems that I see.


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I think that’s a rainforest mind trait, knowing/feeling danger/change before others. I’m always looking for good music so will seek out that soundtrack. Thanks, Marlies.

      1. singlemoeder Avatar

        it is a movie filmed in Montana, and it came out just before i was there as an exchange student in ’94. The music is actually like water… very soothing and lovely.

        1. Paula Prober Avatar
          Paula Prober

          Oh yes. I loved that film. The music is beautiful!

  17. Antarmukhi Avatar

    Thank you for this wonderful post! Couldn’t have come at a better time! I worry about the politics of this country, the road sense, the children on the streets, the natural gas & crude oil problem.. To name just a few. The suggestions you have given will certainly be helpful, I use music, walks, favourite books, talking to another person, favourite tv serial, writing, just being aware of my tumble down the anxious, spiral hole as I call it, as calming techniques..
    My hot favourite song now is Demons by imagine.. Don’t know why, just is.. 🙂

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thank you for adding to the list, Antarmukhi. I’ll have to look up that song and have a listen!

  18. noksnauta Avatar

    Hi Paula,
    This is so true! I have both sides indeed.
    The worry, which I feel as a reasonable way to look at the world. And which I try to turn into positive action whereever I can.
    And the problem solving which helps so much in nasty situations… like when I fell through my floor last Sunday and knew immediately how to solve this: I could come out by myself luckily, but I also had my telephone with me and could have phoned a friend who has my key.
    I think it is important to cherish both sides and I think your list of advice is very good.
    Start to look at yourself as positive as possible. Try not to get too tired. That makes the worrying worse.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      You fell through your floor?? Sounds like you’re OK. That does sound nasty! Thanks for sharing your ideas: positive action, yes! And getting enough sleep. Sometimes it’s the simple things. Good to hear from you.

  19. Ro Avatar

    So true Paula – there always seem to be complicating factors! I’m pleased to be able to report that mindfulness practice is assisting me in my life; in a way that nothing else ever has. Playing music also helps me (which I suppose is a kind of mindfulness practice in itself… my playing goes all wrong if I let my mind wander). As somebody who grew up with narcissistic/sociopathic abusive family members, I had a huge amount of self hatred and anxiety. Learning about what narcissistic personality truly is, and then communicating with other people affected by narcissistic family members, has really helped me start teasing apart the knot of fear and self loathing I’ve lived in the middle of my entire life. There is a whole other world out there (way of thinking/being/interacting) that I was completely blind to. Abusers took advantage of my ignorance and turned me against myself. It’s all a very slow process, but I’m finally on the right path. Thank you for sharing your wisdom, Paula. You are right – it’s worth continuing to find help. The thing that helps in the end might be something very unexpected.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I’m so glad you’re finding your way out of that abusive family, Ro. What courage you have to stick with what I’m sure is a harrowing journey at times. Mindfulness and music are such great tools. I always appreciate hearing from you.

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