Is Worry An Unnecessary Emotion?
In 1980, I read the book, “Your Erroneous Zones,” by Wayne Dyer. In it, if my memory is correct, Dyer stated: “The two most unnecessary emotions in life are guilt and worry.” In a recent post entitled, “Can Feeling Guilty Be Good?“, I took up the topic of guilt and whether it’s necessary. Please click on the title, if you wish to read more about my thoughts about guilt. In this post, let’s consider the necessity of worry.
So, what is worry about? When I worry, I’m usually concerned about what might happen in the future AND how I can avoid the negative aspect of the occurrence. For example, I might worry about whether or not I will have enough money to meet my financial obligations. Or, I’ll worry about a future health problem. As I think about my past worries and attempt to group them into a single category, it appears I’m really worrying about how to avoid these possible future occurrences. And, of course, another related part of the worrying is how I will contend if they occur.
Even though I have often professed that, “Worry is an unnecessary emotion,” I still worry. I know worrying decreases my quality of life by causing me to be less happy. I also realize that worrying adds stress in my life. The stress that results from worrying can weaken my immune system, resulting in illness. It can also affect my self-esteem and even cause depression. So, why worry? That’s not the question I need answered. What I really want to know is: “How do I stop worrying?”
I’m using this post as a writing for learning exercise. After re-reading the previous paragraphs, I can see that I need to get a little deeper into what worrying is. So, really, where does worrying originate. In our thinking! Worrying is thought! Buddha teaches us that, “What we think, we become.” Socrates teaches us that, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is habit.” If we constantly worry, then we become a worrying person. At least that’s how I apply Buddha’s lesson. A spin-off, of Socrates lesson, allows me to conclude that, if I repeatedly worry, then worrying becomes a habit. OUCH!
Worry is, as Dyer stated, also an emotion. In other words, it’s a mental feeling. For me, it is manifested as concern and/or anxiety. In my case, I often have to mentally fight with myself in order to accept the personal responsibility for my worrying. You see, I often want to blame other people or “things” for the worrying I do. For example, if I’m worrying (anxious) about paying my taxes, I want to blame the government for causing me to worry. But, the government didn’t make me worry, I made me worry! :-)
Ok, so I can see that worry is thinking (and/or) an emotion. Is worry an unnecessary emotion and/or way of thinking? Well, it might have some necessity. For me, worrying does cause me to often act in a safe manner. It causes me to take precautions, such as buying insurance. Worrying about getting a speeding ticket might cause me to slow down to a safer speed. I suppose a “little bit of worrying” isn’t bad, but that kind of worrying doesn’t seem to cause the before-mentioned stress and unhappiness. Other than this “little bit of worrying,” I think Dyer is correct in stating that, “worry is an unnecessary emotion,” and/or, also, an unnecessary way of thinking.
Since worry is unnecessary, what should we do to stop? Well, what do we do to stop anger, sadness, inappropriate thinking, …? Some of us seek help from counselors, therapists, family, friends, religion, etc. Some use self-help groups, books, …
Others will simply do nothing and hope it will go away. Perhaps, the first step necessary to stop worrying is to recognize that it is a problem. Once we recognize it as a problem, the second step, though not necessarily easy, is to stop the unnecessary thinking/emotion of worrying. After all, it is UNNECESSARY! :-)
W. R. Inge once stated: “Worry is interest paid on trouble before it comes due.” If worry was money borrowed, would you pay interest before it’s due? Isn’t there something better we can do with our thinking than worrying? Isn’t worrying taking time away from the quality time in our lives? Don’t we all have better ways to spend our time than worrying? Let’s not pay interest on trouble before we have to.