To me there’s always been three types of worrying: initial worry, productive worrying, and nonproductive worrying. Let’s take them one at a time and see what they are all about.
Initial worrying is that feeling that hits us the instant something happens that has the potential to create worry in us. It sets in before we can really decide if this is even something to worry about or whether it’s a non-issue. This type of worrying happens all the time to us. It can last moments or sometimes a bit longer for the analyticals among us. For me, I’m a bit in the middle. It usually takes me more than a few moments to determine if something is worthy of my time but yet not too long before I decide if it really should be a fleeting thought rather than one that leaves me pondering.
Productive worrying is the worrying that we do that leads to answers, solutions, and outcomes. It’s often time well spent for us. There’s often a bit of an analytical period during it where the problem at hand is analyzed from all angles. Productive worriers want to be ready for everything and think of every possibility. Then the brainstorming sets in and ideas for solutions start churning through our mind. We mentally test a variety of them out and try to figure out all the possible scenarios and outcomes. Finally, comes the decision stage. We decide if and how we are going to proceed with the situation. Maybe this means doing something or nothing at all. Either way, the worry subsides and life goes on.
Nonproductive worrying is the type of worrying that doesn’t lead to anything fruitful. It can be worrying for the sake of worrying. Yes, some of us do find comfort in focusing in on one or two things and worrying about them. It also can be a ballooning out of the original situation and taking it to new levels. In short, taking a non-issue into one that actually does need some thinking dedicated to it. Whatever the type of worrying that is involved, it’s this type of worrying that goes either beyond the stage of productive worrying or is worrying about something that doesn’t necessitate worrying. This type of worrying can be unhealthy for us at times.
It’s important to note that what we deem worthy of worrying about is a decision we each make for ourselves. There’s generally no right or wrong decision in this regard. For example, oftentimes I find myself worrying about something that my significant other would not think twice about. In these moments, I don’t feel I “over-worry” but rather it’s just my personality to like to be really prepared for the “just in case…” moments in life. I like to think through the various outcomes and be as ready as I can for them. That’s not to say that I worry about things often though; just more often then he does.
Overall, I feel that I am a productive worrier with a slight tendency toward nonproductive worrying. What about you? Do you find yourself mostly to be a productive worrier? Nonproductive worrier? Or some mix of them both?
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