The Worry 'Mushroom Syndrome' - Do you have it?
Updated: Jul 12
One of my all-time favourite books is ‘The Chimp Paradox’ by Dr Steve Peters. It is an excellent book that I would strongly suggest that everyone reads, no matter what job you have or where you are in life. The book explains why we act the way we do, and how we all have a chimp and human side to us. It really helps highlight why we do certain things and shows that we’re not as weird and different to everyone else after all!
One paragraph in the book really resonated with me – 'The Mushroom Syndrome'.
When mushrooms grow they constantly compete for space. When a mushroom is big enough, you pick it, and the next largest will grow and fill its space. When this one is picked, the same process happens again. There is always a mushroom ready to grow and fill the gap.
For some people, they grow worries the same way – when a worry disappears, the next one grows and fills their mind. No matter how serious or potent the worry, there’s always one occupying their mind. It’s sometimes said (by others looking in) that these people are worrying about having nothing to worry about!
Don't worry, there’s an answer to your worries! Dr Peters suggests that worrying is a learned destructive habit. It’s tiring for both the individual and people around them, because worries seem to sprout up from nowhere.
No matter how hard we try, there will always be concerns occupying our minds. It’s normal and healthy to have some; However, there are steps that you can take if you find yourself constantly worrying into a state of stress, and displaying signs of the mushroom syndrome:
- Recognise that you suffer from the mushroom syndrome.
- As soon as you notice a worry taking over, replace it with a positive/ neutral thought (e.g. Worrying is an option and I can choose not to worry). By doing this every time, it will become a habit and you’ll notice signs of worry before they take hold.
- Try to take your mind off worries by changing your surroundings or activity (e.g. go for a walk into another room or get some fresh air).
- Clear your mind using meditation (which will also help to reduce the power of your worries and negative thoughts).
- Burn off excess energy by exercising (even just a walk will help).
- Listen to some good music to take your mind off things.
After reading this, do you feel that you suffer or have ever suffered from the mushroom syndrome? If you don’t yourself, I'm sure you know others that do. I’ve certainly found myself having the mushroom syndrome at times, and often find mushrooms (worries) sprouting up if left unchecked. But, by having a positive/ neutral thought ready, you can help to combat worries as soon as they’re discovered (rather than allowing them to grow and take over your head-space).
If you’re interested in learning more about how our minds work in everyday life, I really would suggest checking out ‘The Chimp Paradox’ by Dr Steve Peters (I’m not earning commission for recommending it either!).
Thanks for reading this and please leave a like if you found it interesting.
Also, please share on to others if it could help them too.
On to the final question - How are you going to reduce your worrying today?
References/ Further Information
The Chimp Paradox – Dr Steve Peters