Many people think worry is "just a part of life." After all, everyone worries. However, worry is a human activity which is destructive, worthless, and always counterproductive. It is most often a mental habit--a habit is something you do, that when you do it, you don't know you are doing it.
Some people think the opposite of worry is apathy. Nothing could be further from the truth. The flip side of worry is concern. This can be confusing to some people because it seems these two are really the same thing. In order to make personal progress in your life, you need to know the difference and to be able to discriminate between the two.
This can be difficult at first because worry and concern have some similarities. They both...
o are mental activities
o can take a lot of effort and energy
o have the potential for focusing on important issues
Some people think that worry is important because it shows they care about what they are worrying about. This connection between caring and worry is a cultural myth. The true sign of caring about something or someone is concern. Remember: worry is never effective nor necessary!
Here are some of the common attributes of worry..
Running in circles. Worry seldom takes us to a place that is growth producing. Worry tends to be repetitive in a way that never helps us to resolve our problems. Concern, on the other hand, is more linear. Concern is characterized by forward movement. It advances us in our life's journey towards growth and maturation.
Negativity. One of the defining characteristics of worry is amount of negativity imbedded within the worry. This negativity can be focused on the past, present, or future. It often includes labeling people (including yourself), making judgments, expecting catastrophes, minding reading, or dozens of other examples.
Destructive behavior. Often our thought processes eventually lead us to action. Consequently, worry often gets us to behave in ways that are not in our best interest. After we have done something counterproductive as a result of worry, we then have something else to worry about (see Running in Circles above). Concern is a thought style that promotes constructive and healthy behavior.
Control. One of the important pieces of being human is our need to have a sense that we are in control of our destiny. We are at our most miserable when we sense that our life is out of control. Worry is a type of mental activity that focuses on those things in life that we have no control over such as other people.
Human nature is strange -- people spend so much of their time trying to control the very things that are out of their control. Concern only expends energy on dealing with those issues which are within our control: our behavior, our emotions, and our sensations and our thoughts..
Patrick Philbrick graduated from UCLA with a BA in English Literature. He loves to write and teach. An active member of his church, he spends several hours a week doing volunteer work. He has published articles in Soaring Magazine on performance enhancement, several articles on Christian growth, and is the co-author of Renewing Your Mind: Defeating Destructive Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviors.
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