You must worry, but not too much

A little worry is a good thing if used effectively, but the same habit could lead to disastrous consequences

We are all told not to worry. And yet in many ways, it is when someone worries about us that we know how much we are loved. Every time we travelled to Chandigarh from Delhi, my father, despite knowing the Shatabdi timings, would call several times to ask if all was well and checking what the children and I were up to. He worried and drove mom up the wall with his worry as well. She would advise him to wait patiently, but I guess it was anticipation as well as excitement that kept him hyper. And that made us feel special as well.

Now nobody calls, and I really miss it. Worrying may be bad for the worrier, but it is so very reassuring to the object of worry, the one being worried about. If my husband shows concern when I utter an ‘Ouch’ it makes me happy; if he were to ignore it, I would seriously question his feelings for me! Much more than hearing words of love, being worried about or reassured genuinely — when I am upset — reassures me of being loved. I like it when my mom fusses around me even when she doesn’t really know what is upsetting me. Why does a child run to the mother rather than father when hurt? Because the mother is the one who will show the maximum concern and worry, which reassures the child.

Worrying reassures the object of worry that they are loved and cared for. It helps bind people closer together. And while worrying excessively and all the time is a mental illness, in small doses and at the right time worrying can be a great friend so long as we use it to tip us off to find solutions. Studies have proved that a little anxiety is healthy; it helps us to be better planners, better prepared, to anticipate problems and to think through these. In fact the studies also say that worrying helps people recover from trauma and to even overcome depression.

However, as with everything else in life, balance is the key. How good or bad worrying can be for us, depends on how we use it. If we use it excessively without any positive direction, it will overwhelm us and tip us over the edge. However, if we worry just enough to stay alert to danger, sensitive to relationship issues, better planned by seeking and getting help for foreseeable problems – then worrying can be really good.

For instance, some people who tend to shrug off any health issue, while others worry and get it checked out. Who do you think is better off in the long run? The worrier, of course! Similarly, with your career – being anxious about your goals, competition, and future growth can help keep you alert and open to opportunities, rather than going along without a worry in the world. If you are intelligent, you are bound to worry – how can you not?

You must also worry about safety. It is only when you get anxious that you explore dangers and threats and then think about fixing those vulnerable areas that expose you. You must worry about family and loved ones, about the air you breathe, the food you eat and your fitness. All these are areas that matter to us and as such cannot be taken for granted. And unless we worry about these, we will never be able to keep them shipshape because it is worry that helps call for action.

However, we must be aware of the dangers of excessive worry. Too much worry leads to anxiety and even panic attacks. It can make you ill and impact all aspects of life, leading to bad lifestyle habits in an attempt to counteract feelings of low self-worth and excessive anxiety. So, where does one draw the line that keeps good worry from becoming a dangerous habit?

Worrying without acting is what causes the problem, because it will then get you in a spin. Just worrying will never lead to any good. You must allow that worry to lead to resolution through action, planning or seeking help. Else, all it will lead to is greater trouble, more anxiety and obsession, interfering with your judgment and creating more issues to worry about.

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