Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Is Worry Ever Justified

Is worry every justified? Many people would say yes because it is important to worry about important things that might go wrong. It is a way of preparing oneself to deal with adversity. Some people think that worry is necessary if you care about something or someone. To not worry is to not care.

A common misperception is to equate worry with concern. This is understandable because worry and concern have several things in common. They are both styles of thinking and perceiving. Both of them may take a lot of mental effort. Additionally, worry and concern can both focus on very important issues.

The similarity stops there. One of the first steps you can take to begin managing your thought life is to understand the vast difference between worry and concern. My position is that worry is never warranted and always misplaced and self-destructive. Worry is not only focused on the future, but can be related to the present and the past. Worry is often a mental habit. The habit may be so strong that a person may worry without even being aware that he or she is worrying.

Worry is destructive and unhealthy because it is a mental style of thinking that runs you in circles. It goes round and round and seems to go on forever. It’s like the gerbil in the caged wheel — a lot of effort but no forward movement. What really defines worry is the focusing on parts of life beyond your control. By worrying, you can find yourself in the strange predicament of trying to control things in life that you have no control over.

Concern, on the other hand, is more linear. It allows you to make forward movement in your life’s journey, It is often more deliberate and reflective. Concern can take you places that are unreachable by worry because you are able to make creative choices instead of retreading old ground.

For example, let’s say you have parked your car on the street in front your friend’s house at night. As the night begins to wear on, you begin to wonder if you locked your car because its visibility and availability is an invitation for thieves. If you were to worry about it, your joy of being with your friend would begin to ebb. It might even make you reluctant to go check your car because you might worry about looking like a fool in front of your friend. Concern would get you to take immediate action with very little pondering what others might think. You would still be able to enjoy the time with your friend.

Knowing the difference is merely the starting point. The goal here is not to stop worrying, Your mind has to continue to operate. You want to learn how to replace worry with concern. Making the switch from worry to concern is the hard part. We all know how difficult it is to change long-standing habits. In future posts we can begin to look at what this replacement process looks like.

Questions: Do think there really is a difference between worry and concern? What if you could replace worry with concern — what would your life be like? Do you believe that the work it would take to replace worry with concern would be worth the effort? Feel free to post your comments about this topic and its questions.
Did You Know? Recently, scientists have discovered, by using neuroimaging of the brain, that when you think about God’s thoughts or when you think of your own thoughts, the same area in your brain gets activated?

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