challenging my worries


I’m a worry wart. I worry about everything and anything. I justify the worries by saying that there are risks and they need to be calculated in order to be mitigated.

Our world is quite confusing, I find.

When I was working, our in-house training taught us to focus on finding risks and mitigating them, especially during the financial crisis. We had all these financial models and we spent the most time analyzing the “what-if” scenarios and worst-case scenarios in order to find ways to protect our own interests even before the scenarios have happened. In law school, we had to pre-empt all the arguments the other side might make – “what if” the defense said this, then how should we rebut?

Yet in life, many people advise that we have to face our fears, and just do it, without thinking “what if”. So what if the world falls down? Well, I guess then we all die and all this ceases to exist as we know it.

Perhaps within a framework of business practices the “what ifs” has it merits, and there’s a point in buying insurance since there is always a probability the plane would crash when we are in it.

However, calculating risks is one thing, over worrying is quite another.

This habit of worrying had always been in my life. I remember times when I was a teenager, that I was too concerned that someone would break into our apartment that I’d get up in the middle of the night and go unlock the door the gate, so I could lock them again – thrice.

With my depression, worrying actually became a threat to my mere existence. I’d have a thought in my head, that leaving the house I would encounter bees. I get nervous that the bees would sting me for some reason. My shoulders and neck tense up because I’m trying to fight off the worry. But it seemed so real, this life endangering episode should it occur. With a tense neck and stringent shoulder muscles, my head muscles collide, the blood vessels fire off exaggerated warning signals for a fight or flight response, and expand. My head starts thumping, my body tremors, my hands shake, and I cannot move my body at all, petrified by a simple, innocent thought of bees.

A migraine hits, and I want to tear my hair out. I vomit, and in my dizziness I throw myself against the wall. My fear was blown out of proportion. Deep down I knew I was worrying about something that wouldn’t happen. My reality however, I wasn’t strong enough to control.

Thus I did not leave the apartment. I did not – could not – go to work. I was unable to meet my friend for a coffee and talk to someone about my fear. I wrapped up every single inch of exposed-skin to avoid bees and literally sprinted the 8 steps from the lobby of the apartment compound into a cab to go see my doctors and my psychologist. When a buzzing fly found its way through the window cracks, I leapt in utmost panic and horror. I’d get startled from my sleep by nightmares of bee brigades hunting me down.

worry, depression, needless worrying, over worrying, cognitive behaviour therapy, self awareness, tiger mum

My shrink taught me, through cognitive behaviour therapy, to identify my negative thoughts and worries, and to challenge them. I’d have to write out the reasons behind my worry, and to pinpoint any evidence to show that such a worry might become reality. Obviously, most of my little frivolous concerns had no backing and probability of happening was close to zero.

Other times, the worries simply were not constructive and did not add value to my existence. Rather, they took a drain on me and assimilated my irrational, negative thoughts.

To illustrate my silliness, here are some of the ludicrous worries I have – and want to get rid of:

  • what other people might think of me
  • my blog has no readers
  • my writing sucks
  • I will have a miscarriage even though I’m far from being pregnant
  • I will be a tiger mum and my kids will hate me – I probably will anyways so no point worrying about it
  • I will have nowhere to live
  • my bears will die from cancer, but oh wait, they are not actually living beings
  • bees will sting me
  • stray dogs will devour me
  • butterflies will bite me
  • people will hate my cooking
  • Bamboo (my dog) will die
  • Bamboo doesn’t love me
  • Bamboo will chew on my shoes even though she has not once tried
  • I won’t find another job
  • I won’t have any money
  • the plane will crash
  • my nose is too big
  • I will fall off the scooter
  • my family-in-law doesn’t like me
  • Bamboo will fall off the chair lift up the Great Wall – but uh, I didn’t even take her
  • Bugs will kill me
  • Geckos will fall from the ceiling on me
  • The tall building will be on fire and I have to run down 100 flights of stairs
  • Customs won’t let me pass with my jewellery in the suitcase…

Basically everything that can go wrong, I’d think they would go wrong. Yet, how many of them actually do go haywire? Maybe 1%…?

So I’ve just wasted all that energy with needless worrying.

Where possible, an educated method of minimizing risks, such as that in investments, is sensible. Worrying about things that will not happen is a desecration of time.

And anyways, what is the worse that could happen if everything above did happen? Would it mean an end to me, my life, and my world? Well, if it did, then what happened wouldn’t matter so much either by that time, so why worry in the first place?

Trying to remind myself not to worry. Challenging my thoughts each time irrational thoughts come my way.

Is there any over-worrying you need to get rid of today?

29 Responses

  1. farouk says:

    i discovered that 90% of the things i worry about never happen
    thanks for your post

    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Farouk

      Agreed – my worries hardly ever happen either… So let’s stop worrying together 🙂

      Noch Noch

      • srini says:


        please add some thing humourous. sense of humour will lighten up the whole life. I do have meaningless worries most of the time and laugh at it.

        You have not told how you have celebrated new year?

        • nochnoch says:

          Hi Srini

          That’s very wise – laughing at our own worries. Re-reading my list, I do see how it’s so silly. I can laugh a bit today
          Thanks for asking, Chinese New Year was quite chill with my parents visiting

          Take care
          Noch Noch

  2. Christine Yuen Stedmann says:

    I’m sure you’re gaining readers all over the world because your blog posts are easy to relate. However, don’t be discouraged.. sometimes, I find readers ofter stay reading but not all will take the time to write and comment. So don’t be disheartened. Your writing is great and you WILL find another job! x

    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Christine

      THanks for the sweet encouragement – I read it seeing that sweet smile you always have 🙂
      I will keep writing!!!

      Noch Noch

  3. Perhaps as with many others, my fear is of the fear itself. I’m afraid to feel scared… This is why I try to place myself in the hands of destiny. Allowing whatever will happen to happen.

    Usually works for me 🙂

    Thank you for making me think! Again.

    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Vlad

      That’s a great mentality – allowing whatever happen to happen. reminds me of the song “que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be…”

      I will have to slowly adopt this thinking and stop worrying so much. 30 years of habit is hard to change overnight. Thanks for always encouraging me on!

      Noch Noch

  4. Dwayne says:

    I know how you feel, Noch Noch. I used to let worries bury me and keep me frozen in fear but then I decided that worrying wasn’t getting me anywhere and started living my life. I couldn’t be happier. Great post, Noch Noch.

    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Dwayne

      Thanks for coming by – yeh I was frozen in fear. Starting to thaw now. appreciate the example you show me of yourself. I can do it too!

      Noch Noch

  5. Great post, Noch – I love your advice about challenging our worries. What a helpful way to redirect our precious life force…xo

    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Ann!!!! *Squeal!!!* always happy to hear from you here my dear friend 🙂
      It’s advice I need to follow too. I guess writing it out helps me remind myself too
      Love you lots
      Noch Noch

  6. Hanan says:

    🙂 Your post reminded me of a children’s storybook titled: “Scaredy Squirrel” by Melanie Watt. Have you read it? it is great! Here’s an excerpt of that book:
    “Scaredy Squirrel never leaves his nut tree. It”s way too dangerous out there. He could encounter tarantulas, green Martians or killer bees. But in his tree, every day is the same and if danger comes along, he”s well-prepared. Scaredy Squirrel”s emergency kit includes antibacterial soap, Band-Aids and a parachute. Day after day he watches and waits, and waits and watches, until one day ? his worst nightmare comes true! Scaredy suddenly finds himself out of his tree, where germs, poison ivy and sharks lurk. But as Scaredy Squirrel leaps into the unknown, he discovers something really uplifting…”

    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Hanan

      Hi again 🙂

      Not heard of the book before but just googled it. I couldn’t load the youtube video though, my VPN was too slow and youtube is blocked here in China… But i read up about it. That’s so true. Scaredy Squirrel. I was Scaredy Squirrel. We leap into the unknown and discover more. Exhilarating
      Thanks for sharing this story!

      Noch Noch

  7. Annie Andre says:

    Noch Nock,

    I wish i had something brilliant to say but i don’t. All i have to say is that i’ve been able to face my fears and some of those fears are no longer barriers. Instead i am stronger because i worked harder to overcome them than if i had no fear at all. Hope that makes sense.

    Hang in there, it sounds like you are having major break troughs.

    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Annie

      It makes lots of sense – as they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…. I know I’m stronger too today because of what I have learnt these few years too. One little breakthrough a day
      Thanks again for coming by 🙂

      Noch Noch

  8. Hi Noch Noch,

    I worry all the time as well even though I know that no amount of energy I place in worrying will ever change the outcome bad or good.

    When I worry about stuff I tend to withdraw into my own wee world for a while where I am safe from the pressures of what is happening to cause me worry!

    So, by way of sending you a cheery message instead of sympathy filled one, I thought this might make you smile!

    It’s all about embracing those moments when it can get too much!


    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Samantha

      hahahah that made me not only smile, but laugh!!!! 🙂
      thanks for the link

      i’ll have to learn how to embrace those moments – any suggestions on how to calm worries down after withdrawing into your wee world?

      Noch Noch

      • SAMANTHA BRENNAN says:

        Hey Lovely Lady,

        It’s taken me 30years to come to the conclusion that it’s never about what happens to you but the way you deal with it, and it’s not the mistakes you make but the way you fix them.

        So, with this in mind, I have decided that the keys are perception, experience and wisdom and when worry starts to set in I have started to ask myself three questions:

        1. What is my perception of the situation?
        2. What experiences can I relate to the situation?
        3. What have I learned from those experiences and how can this help to alleviate my worries?

        I’ll keep you posted xx

        • nochnoch says:

          Hi Samantha

          That’s an awesome way to look at worries and gives a positive spin to any worries. i’ll try to keep that in mind. in fact, i’ve written it down and stuck it on my wall in front of my desk

          thanks for the tips and sharing them here!


  9. J says:

    How do i stop????? Worrying???

    • nochnoch says:

      Hi J

      It’s hard to stop worrying. I’m in the same boat. BUt every time I worry, I ask myself – “what’s the evidence that something like this will happen” and if it’s not a valid worry, I force myself to forget it. With a bit of practice, I’m getting slightly better. But be patient with yourself. I’ve been practising for more than a year now, and still worry 🙁

      Noch Noch

  10. srini says:

    there is a saying” not getting something what you want is a blessing ”

    – a close friend of mine happened to meet his ex after about 2 years of ending the relationship.After observing her, he realised that his life would have been very torturous if only he had married that person.

    guess, what will happen, if only all our fears come true. How funny the life will be?

    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Srini

      Good to hear from you. Indeed, sometimes we want something so much we can’t see it in bigger context that it is not right for us. Thanks for helping us get some perspective

      Noch Noch

  11. […] specific quotes from blog posts – not just websites – that have helped me rearrange my depressed thoughts, and in one way or another inspired me to get out of my rut […]

  12. Christina says:

    I’m always worrying and thinking. I don’t think it’s normal. I’m really trying to work on not thinking about other things and just focus on the moment and what I’m doing. It’s really hard but I’m working on it and reading this post helps. Thank you!

    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Christina

      Indeed it’s very hard. I find it hard too to go to bed and not think about what I have to do tomorrow. But maybe learning to focus on one thing could help and then forgetting the others… Good luck with it. I find acupuncture also helped me!

      Noch Noch

  13. […] The only way to do so was to put myself out there, inch by inch, meter by meter. Try again. Let myself immerse in situations that make me anxious and learn to manage it. […]

  14. […] The only way to do so was to put myself out there, inch by inch, meter by meter. Try again. Let myself immerse in situations that make me anxious and learn to manage it. […]

about Noch Noch

Enoch Li, (pen name: Noch Noch) was born and raised in Hong Kong and Australia. She has also studied / worked / lived in the US, France, UK, Japan, The Netherlands, China, and has travelled to more than 40 countries. She loves travelling and her curiosity in foreign cultures and languages has led her to enjoy her life as an international executive in the banking & finance industry. However, she was forced to take time off work in 2010 due to her illnesses and after spending time in recovery, cooking, practising Chinese calligraphy, reading and writing – in short, learning to take care of herself and letting out the residual work stress, she has transitioned into a Social Entrepreneur and founded BEARAPY to help corporates make workplaces mentally healthy, and support executives to become more resilient.