Worry is natural and serves a purpose. It is necessary since it alerts us to potential threats. Each of us worries differently and about different things. We have our own rule book that we think will help us to be more secure. How we handle our worries depends on our thinking. What principles or rules do you follow when worries appear?
Worry is good when it
… makes you pay attention.
It can be as simple as looking both ways before you cross a busy intersection or checking the temperature before heading out to an outdoor winter sports event.
… makes you take precautions.
Events that are dangerous when they surprise you, for example freezing rain or slushy roads on the way to a skiing holiday. Worry can lead you to top up your antifreeze and windshield wiper fluid. Better still, to bring some along in your trunk.
… helps you prepare for a situation as best you can.
Worry can help you plan for an upcoming event by imagining the various scenarios that might come about. For example, you have an exam on Monday and there’s a great party on the weekend before. If you go to the party, you will lose some study time. In addition, you might be too tired to study on Sunday. It’s smarter to set quiet time aside at your grandparents’ house well in advance and refuse to be distracted no matter how great that party will be.
… helps you to not overlook important items.
When I plan a fancy dinner, I worry about the ingredients. What do I already have in the pantry? What do I have to buy? How about the freshness and quality? Are my planned serving sizes too high or too low?
… helps you to be more responsible.
Should the family go to Disneyland or invest in Registered Education Savings Plans in case all the kids want to go to Harvard or MIT? Can grandma really look after her place on her own or should we drop over weekly to help?
… helps you to find a reasonable solution to your predicament.
As you worry, think about what’s going on. For example, you might recognize that certain people make you so anxious that you behave poorly. Perhaps you should spend less time with them.
… helps you to take productive action.
When is worry bad? For sure, when it’s the opposite to the above. The next post will look into how and why “bad” worry occurs.