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Worry

Jump to the following topics:  

  1. What is worry?  
  2. The positive and negative aspects of worry.   
  3. The techniques for managing worry.  


What is worry?  

  1. Worry is a fear-like response to a non-immediate situation which we perceive as a threat. For example, we might worry about an exam which will occur tomorrow. Worry is related to similar phenomena:
    • Fear. Fear is a response to an immediate situation which we perceive as a threat. In both fear and worry, we perceive a threat; we analyze our defenses and we conclude that they might be inadequate; and we attempt to formulate an appropriate response.
    • Anxiety. Anxiety is a fear-like response to life in general. It is not a response to any particular thing.
  2. Worry is an emotional, mental, and physiological response.
    • Emotional. The three emotions are fear, anger, and love. Worry is an aberration of fear.
    • Mental. The mental process is similar for fear and worry. However, in fear, we are analyzing and planning for an actual situation and the immediate possibilities which might arise from that situation; in worry, we are analyzing and planning for a situation which might not occur at all. In fear, the event is generally based on a physical event; in worry, the event is generally based in our imagination.
    • Physiological. As in the experience of fear, worry can cause an increase of heartbeat-rate, an increase in respiration, the release of adrenaline and other chemicals, and other physiological changes.


The positive and negative aspects of worry.  

  1. The positive aspects of worry.  
    • Worry is our attempt to plan for the future. We are considering possible dangers and defenses. (However, we can plan for the future without "worrying," which also includes fear.)
    • Worry can direct our attention toward a problem or a hazard. If we "can't stop worrying," we probably need to work on the problem about which we are worrying. (However, we can direct our attention without worrying.)
    • Worry can motivate us to solve a problem. For example, if we worry about the possible health-hazards of smoking cigarettes, our dislike of the worrying might motivate us to quit smoking. (However, we can be motivated without the additional discomfort which is caused by worrying.)
    • Worry can help us to rehearse our response to situations. For example, if we worry about having a car accident, we are imagining how we would react in an accident. (However, our rehearsals are always incorrect; they do not include the specific details of the possible event, and so our imagined response is always inappropriate to the event which could occur. Also, our worrying generates charged archetypal-field elements which must be discharged; therefore, we are likely to create a car accident simply to discharge those elements, i.e., the thoughts, images, energy tones, and actions.)
    • Worry can be an attempt to express concern, caring, and love. For example, we might say to someone, "I worry about you." (However, that statement can be interpreted as patronizing and insulting.)
    • Worry can be stimulating in a dull life. In our real life, our challenges might be very small, but in our worrying imagination, we can confront huge, exciting, melodramatic problems. (However, we can gain stimulation through the productive activities of real life, so that we avoid the negative aspects of worry.)
  2. The negative aspects of worry.
    • Many of the negative aspects were mentioned in the rebuttals in the section regarding "the positive aspects of worry."
    • Worry can warp our perceptions of the world. We might start to believe that world is more dangerous than it really is; for example, in our worrying imagination, we might experience many fights, car accidents, murders, and other disasters which never occur. Our actual life might be relatively safe and secure.
    • Worry can be a substitute for action. If someone confronts us regarding our inaction in a problem, we might defend ourselves with the statement that "I am worrying about it," as though worrying will magically solve the problem, or that it will fulfill our responsibility regarding the problem.
    • Worry is a misuse of the imagination. Instead of using the imagination for creative problem-solving, we are using it for mere fantasies.
    • Worry can be used as an excuse to interfere in other people's lives. We might say, "I am worried. The worry causes discomfort in me. Therefore, I am justified in meddling in your life, in order to ease my own discomfort."


The techniques for managing worry.  

  1. Archetypal field-work. Field-work is a direct reply to worry; in both cases, we are generating thoughts, images, energy tones, and actions. Worrying implants "negative" elements in our archetypal fields; those elements must be discharged -- sometimes by creating the specific circumstance about which we were worrying.
    • Self-talk. For example: "I have faith in the basic benevolence of life." "Life is generally peaceful." "I take care of my responsibilities."  
    • Directed imagination. For example, we can imagine a pleasant outcome to the situation.
    • Energy toning. We can generate energy tones of hope, confidence, etc.
    • The "as if" principle. We can act as if we believe that a pleasant outcome will occur.
  2. Intuition. Intuition can tell us how to prepare for possible disasters. And it can tell us whether a situation is likely to cause harm; if intuition indicates that a situation is safe for us, we have no reason to worry.
  3. We can act to prevent problems which might occur, or to resolve problems which are already occurring. For example, if we study for an exam, we are less likely to worry about it.
  4. We can focus our attention on the present moment, instead of the future.
  5. We can learn about fear. Because worry is related to fear, some of the same concepts and techniques can be used for both states.
  6. We can develop self-confidence.
  7. We can realize that most worrisome events never occur. As we review out past worries, we see that most of them were unfounded. The evaluation can indicate that we might be worrying too much.
  8. We can develop faith in the basic benevolence of life or a deity. After we do whatever we can do to prevent or resolve a problem, we have faith that the situation will be resolved for the best of everyone involved.
  9. We realize that we have survived similar situations. Even if the situation is difficult and unpleasant, we are likely to come through it with little or no damage. We are generally strong and resilient.

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