Worrying isn’t always a waste of time

It’s important to note that what we deem worthy of worrying about is a decision we each make for ourselves. To me there’s always been three types of worrying:  initial worry, productive worrying, and nonproductive worrying. What type of worrier are you?

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:

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:

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:

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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24 thoughts on “Worrying isn’t always a waste of time

  1. I’d never thought about productive vs. non-productive worrying before but actually that makes complete sense. I’d like to think I’m a mix of both but that things I can’t change, I try not to stress about. Great post, thank you for sharing!

    1. It sounds like you’ve found a good mix for handling stressors!! Glad you enjoyed the post. 🙂

  2. This is such a great post. So important to realize the difference between non productive worrying and productive worrying!

  3. Great post! I think we prevent ourselves from reaching our goals and dreams far too often by allowing unnecessary worrying to hold us back. Learning to identify productive vs unproductive worrying can have a HUGE impact on how much we accomplish

    1. Thank you – I completely agree about it preventing ourselves from reaching our dreams and goals at times. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and insights!

    1. Initial worrying can hit me hard too until I have some time to put things into perspective -to see if it’s really worth the overwhelming feeling I often get at first. Thanks for sharing Unwanted Life! Always a pleasure! 🙂

  4. My dad always tells me to stop worrying as it was nonproductive worrying and just hurt myself, but now it make sense when you know it was waste of time or not.

  5. I used to be a worrier (productive and non-productive). But ever since I got married, I’ve relaxed a bit. My husband is very laid back and I think that kind of rubbed off on me, which I’m so thankful for.

    1. I’ve found the same to be true for me. Being with a mellower person just naturally tends to mellow you out. 🙂 Thanks for sharing Corinne!

  6. I am an initial worrier too but once I determine it’s not worth it I tend to wipe it off my plate quickly. If its worth the worry, that’s a whole other story. Then I focus a lot on productive worrying! Thanks for your comment Eva!

  7. Tring to define productive and nonproductive worry is difficult and you made it clear. I’m sure each one of us does that non-productive worrying. I know I do and this helps me realize I need to be more aware of it.

    1. I agree that awareness is key. It’s not always possible to avoid nonproductive worrying but perhaps we can reduce the amount of time spent on it if we identify it earlier on. Thanks for sharing Heather!

  8. A really thoughtful post. I find most worrying just slows me down, though I often now just take action then worry about the consequences after!

    1. Thank you Steve! I do that too sometimes – sometimes it actually works out quite well and I’ve saved myself quite a bit of time of worrying!

  9. I think whether I’m a productive or unproductive worrier is completely dependant on the situation. It’s my default mode to go into productive the second I hear there’s something to worry about and immediately try to fix it but I can be an unproductive worrier if it’s a situation I have little to no control over. Really interesting though, I’ve never really considered it like this before x

    Sophie

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