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#49 Worrying is Pretending

Just like my Grandma Peg, many of us have a tendency to conjure up unnecessary worries. We fabricate threats where there are none, a survival mechanism that unfortunately contributes to our stress and affects our mental health. In this riveting discussion, we'll explore this pattern of creating our own worries.

I assure you, there's a silver lining; we can rewire our 'worrying' into 'positive imagining'. We'll delve into the 'Rule of Fives' as a practical tool to manage overwhelming worry. But more importantly, we'll learn to envision a brighter picture where things might just turn out better than we imagine.

Since you’re ready to become your favorite version of you, book a consult to learn more about working with me as your coach.

"Worrying is pretending. If you're going to pretend, I want you to spend your time imagining that things very well may turn out way better than you ever imagined."

What you'll learn in this episode:

  • The 'Rule of Fives', a practical tool for managing overwhelming worry

  • How 'positive imagining' can replace 'worrying' to promote a healthier mental state

  • The difference between 'worrying' and 'awareness'

  • How the concept of 'pretending' can be reframed to envision a brighter, more positive future

"Worry pretends to be necessary, but serves no useful purpose."

Be sure to sign up for a consult to see if coaching with me is the right fit for you. Join me on the powerful journey to become your favorite you.

Listen to the full episode:

Read the full episode transcript

 Hey, this is Melissa Parsons, and you are listening to the Your Favorite You Podcast. I'm a certified life coach with an advanced certification in deep dive coaching. The purpose of this podcast is to help brilliant women, like you, with beautiful brains create the life you've been dreaming of with intention.

My goal is to help you find your favorite version of you by teaching you how to treat yourself as your own best friend. If this sounds incredible to you and you want practical tips on changing-up how you treat yourself, then you're in the right place. Just so you know, I'm a huge fan of using all of the words available to me in the English language, so please proceed with caution if young ears are around.

Hello, welcome back to the Your Favorite You Podcast. Once again, I am so grateful to those of you who keep coming back week after week, and if this is your first time you're listening to the podcast, welcome. I'm so grateful to the new listeners too. I honestly cannot believe that I've been producing this podcast for almost a year. It seems like an impossibility, and, at the same time, my brain is like of course you have Melissa, of course.

Okay, on to the topic for today. I want to talk about worrying, as I think I have mentioned before on the podcast and certainly in my emails which, by the way, if you're not on my email list, what the hell get yourself over there by going to my website,, and adding your name to the list.

Okay, I know I have talked about this many places, but I come from a long line of warriors. My grandma Peg used to literally make shit up to worry about. She would be sitting at the kitchen table drumming her fingers on the table saying, hmm, what can I worry about today?

Now you could argue that this was justified. She is an amazing woman who lived through the Great Depression. She had nine mouths to feed every day after having seven children. She was reliant on our family business to keep food on the table and a roof over their head, and she had to attempt to keep seven children quiet during carling hours at the funeral home. My cortisol starts to rise just thinking about it. If I'm being honest, I also want to acknowledge that, of course, this comes naturally to most, if not all, of us because of our brains built in negativity bias in order to keep us safe.

Our brain is always scanning the environment, looking for threats, and we spend hours, some of us days, some of us weeks, months of our lives, sometimes even years of our lives, worried about the future. I've been thinking deeply about this, and I've been coaching my clients about this a lot recently.

I want to introduce you to the idea that worrying about anything that has not already happened is simply pretending. It is playing make believe. It usually has very little basis in reality. So, worrying is pretending. We think that we can somehow protect ourselves from the pain of whatever we are worried is going to happen by worrying about it ahead of time.

If this were possible, I would be all in on the idea. Yes, let's worry, so that when the thing that we are worried about happens, it doesn't hurt so bad, it doesn't make us feel as sad or as frustrated or as mad or as jealous. If it worked that way, I would be up for trying it. It doesn't work that way, my friends.

Worrying is pretending. If you're going to pretend, I want you to spend your time imagining that things very well may turn out way better than you ever imagined. Let me give you some examples. Right now, I am pretending that John and I are going to be happily married for the next 20 to 30 years.

This pretending or imagining helps me so much more than the imagining or worrying that something is going to happen to one or both of us or that something will happen to cause us to separate or divorce. This imagining our future helps me be intentional about wanting to be a better wife. It helps me be intentional about looking for all the good in our relationship.

It helps me to dream about all the amazing things we're going to get to experience together and to imagine being there for one another on the not so amazing days.

Right now, I'm pretending that we're going to have the most amazing trip to Spain next week. We actually leave tomorrow. I'm pretending that the weather is going to be amazing. I'm pretending that the tours we signed up for are going to be delightful. I am pretending that we are going to have an easy, breezy travel. I am pretending that John and I are going to meet my friend David for brunch.

I'm also pretending that we're going to see flamenco dancers in Madrid. I'm pretending that we're going to meet the most delightful people. I'm pretending that we're going to go to a place called the Air Spa in Barcelona, where John is going to have the ultimate bath experience and I am going to have a forehands massage. It sounds amazing, doesn't it? The reality is that I have no idea what is actually going to happen between August 21st and August 31st.

Two weeks ago, I pretended that we were going to do all this fun family stuff together for the week before Jack went back to OSU for his senior year and Owen went to OSU for his freshman year, and then John got COVID and none of that happened. I was pretending that he was going to be cooking for us all week All of Jackson and Owen's favorites before they headed back to campus. Instead, I've been making soup and sandwiches and we've been door dashing.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Can you guys think of examples of things you are worried about that are all made up in your beautiful brain? Can you think of different ways to think about these things instead? One practical tip for when you're really worried about something, and you have lots of evidence to back up your worry.

I have taught this tip for years in my Pete's practice to the boys, really to anyone who will listen. I call it the rule of fives. I don't remember where I first heard it, so I'm not sure who to credit for this idea, but what I do is ask myself Will what I'm worrying about or upset about right now matter in five minutes? Usually, the answer is yes. Will what I'm worried about or upset about right now matter in five hours?

Will what I'm worried about or upset about right now matter in five days, in five weeks, in five months, in five years? Usually, when I get out to the five week and the five-month mark, whatever it is I'm so worried about tends to just no longer be a worry. Try it for yourself next time your brain suggests that you should be worried about something.

Worry really pretends to be necessary, but it hardly ever is, because the universe is always giving me signs that I'm on the right track. This week in the authenticity calendar you know the one I'm always talking about that has all the quotes for every day of the week there was a quote from Eckhart Toll, worry pretends to be necessary, but serves no useful purpose.

I'm going to repeat it, worry pretends to be necessary, but serves no useful purpose. I challenge you to think about a time when worrying about something ahead of time served you, where it had you change what you were doing, and it actually prevented something bad from happening to you. I was talking to my group about this, and we came up with a distinction. My Your Favorite You group is so wise. Hello, ladies, I know you're listening.

So, there is a difference between worrying and having awareness. Awareness has you looking at the weather forecast before you go somewhere so that you know what to pack? Worrying has you packing for cold weather, just in case it's not 90 to 100 degrees every day in Spain? Awareness has you knowing who your kid is friends with so that you can get to know their friends?

Worry has you not allowing your child to go out and meet new people because you don't trust anyone? Awareness has you putting on sunscreen when you're out in the sun? Worry has you never going outside and getting rickets from vitamin D deficiency? Awareness has you knowing the signs that you're coming down with an infection? Worrying, have you checking your clean wound every 20 minutes for the slightest bit of redness or tenderness, poking it so often that it becomes tender because of the poking instead of a potential infection?

The difference is subtle, but it's there. My friends, if you have questions about this, please reach out to me. I would love to help you see the difference for yourself.

Another amazing distinction my clients came up with this week is the idea of imagining an amazing future where everything turns out way better than you think and quote unquote, faking it until you make it. There's no need to fake anything, my friends, and that is not the type of pretending I'm talking about. This has come up a lot recently.

I never want any of my clients to use coaching to tolerate a situation that is intolerable. We don't need to change our thoughts. If something in our lives is not tenable or tolerable, we have the option to change the circumstance. We never need to fake anything. I hope you can see the difference between pretending and imagining that life is going to turn out way better than you think and faking it through life to deal with the facet of life that you no longer want to participate in.

My brain works well with examples, so I'm going to give you two concrete examples from some clients that I have done this work with that will hopefully help you learn the difference. The first is my client, Amanda. You may remember her from an earlier episode that we will link in the show notes.

Amanda came to me worried that there was something wrong with her and that is why she was struggling to succeed in her role at work. After talking with her for just a short while, it became so obvious to me that this was not an Amanda problem, but it was a problem with the institution that she was working for. She was, of course, down for all the coaching, so I coached her to imagine a place where she was valued and highly sought after for her skills as a badass orthopedic surgeon.

Instead of pretending or worrying that she was the problem, she opened up her brain to the possibility that she was never the problem and that she could thrive if she believed that there was a place better suited to cultivating her unique set of skills.

Once she started to do that, she let people know that she was looking to make a career move and very quickly had multiple offers to consider. Because, of course, I think you can tell, if you listen to her episode of the podcast, that her work life has turned out to be even better than her imagination could see initially. Instead of staying stuck in the pretend world of worry, she imagined a different outcome for herself, and now she has it and more.

The second example I will give you is my client. Let's call her JWQ. She knows who she is, and I have talked about her here in the past. She came to me as a single mid 30s amazing woman who was worrying again, pretending that she was not lovable. We got to the root of why she was thinking that, and then she started imagining what she would do if she started to believe that she was in fact lovable.

Lo and behold, within a few weeks on the dating apps, she met an incredible man. She is happily married now, and they are trying to grow their family. She could have stayed in the worry and pretending that she was not lovable. That was a totally made-up world. By the way, I am so glad that we coached on the possibility that she is completely lovable and now she is in a totally different situation, living a life again that is even better than she had ever imagined.

I hope these examples help you to see what I'm talking about in a concrete way, since I know that a lot of you listening out there have never heard of this concept of worrying as pretending.

Actually, none of you have heard of this, because I just made it up with my beautiful brain this week. Anyway, since this is new to you and I know you want to know more about how you can stop worrying and get to know your favorite you, who worries way less than she used to. Please book a consult to become one of my clients. I will help you imagine a world for you that is beyond your wildest imagination.

If you have a way to chat with you, go to, click on the Work with Me tab, then click Book Now to get yourself on my schedule. See you next week, friends.

Thank you for listening to the podcast and loving on me all the time. Now that my group launch is closed, I am opening up two spots to work with me one-on-one. If one-on-one coaching is more your jam, please reach out to me to book a consult by going to my website,, and clicking on the Work with Me tab.

I would love to discuss with you how I can help you on a one-on-one basis. Talk to you soon.

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