"Worry" Is a Useless Emotion!

Research shows it is truly a waste of time.

Posted Jun 06, 2019

Sarah Benton
Source: Sarah Benton

As I read the book Educated by Tara Westover and was witness to the many paranoid and delusional thoughts and beliefs that she was raised with, this topic occurred to me. Tara took years to see the truth about the belief systems she was raised with, but they were so extreme that it may have been easier to challenge the thought distortions through her education

But worry is insidious, and almost always useless. It can be defined as “to give way to anxiety or unease; allow one’s mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles." The key is that it is “giving way” to anxiety and allowing your mind to fixate on problems. There is not one solution that worry provides. Those who are worriers often justify their thoughts and behaviors as being prudent and protective in some way, as if heading off danger. As if worrying about something will prevent it from happening, because you already thought of that worst-case scenario. Worrying can become a way of life that some may share with loved ones because they are concerned and care about them. “If I worry about you it is because I love you.”

While many people with tendencies towards anxiety disorders may worry a lot, there are those who do not have mental health issues who engage in this pastime. There are also individuals who have anxiety disorder who do not worry! Either way, worrying is suffering.

There is also a secondary negative impact on those who must listen to worriers constantly talking about “worst case scenarios.” The unspoken message is that our safety and life are always in danger of something bad happening. “Be careful,” ”watch out…” just a few of the statements that can seem to invite bad luck, because, “What if the one time I don’t say them, something bad happens?” 

Another negative effect of listening to excessive worry by a loved one is that you start to tune out real danger, numbed by the daily drone of useless worry. When you choose your concerns wisely, others may pay better attention to them. Therefore, less expression of worry could lead to a better response.

If you think that I am not worrying enough, research indicates that 85% of what subjects worried about did not actually happen, and of the things that did happen, 79% was manageable. Meaning that 97% of what you worry about could be a product of your mind. However, worry does not lead to action; it leads to more worry or contagious worry. It is possible to be aware of a potential danger and take action to avoid it with calmer energy.

Speaking from personal experience, growing up around constant worry made me numb and frustrated by it. I also took an opposite outlook—that there was nothing to worry about because the worrying I heard was so excessive. Throw my alcoholism in the mix and it was a recipe for risk-taking

Today, I make a point to live my life in a way that is mindful about danger and consequences. At times, I may be less concerned about consequences than others, but I have found peace in my mind that knows there is danger in this world, but I can focus on being carefree in the moment.