Don’t Worry about Worry
Worry, like bowel movements and the need for respiration, is an unfortunate consequence of being a living organism. More specifically, worry is the consequence of being a thinking, living organism. Humans worry more than any other known life form. It is possible that Chimps worry sometimes, but their concerns are foreign to us. They worry about running out of termites to eat or poop to fling.
Birds worry even less. They are too busy and too stupid to be worried. The truth is, mankind may have dominion over the Earth, but it would be much easier with a little less responsibility. It sucks to be a thinking creature. And the more I think about it, the more it sucks.
Unless you are a profoundly stupid individual, you will most certainly worry in your life more than you would like. It is a natural part of being aware. Still, there is a slight hint of shame that comes along with worry. Like we are cowards. Like we don’t really know the difference between worry and fear.
Fear is an acute sensation. It is brought about by specific conditions that may not remain completely static over time, but are still predictable. Worry is much more generalized. We worry about concepts, potential events, and fallout. Fear is based on real-world threats, while worry exists in our own heads. A person can be afraid of snakes, while worried that they will take over the planet in 2050.
Because worry exists mostly in our own heads, it has more potential to change over time, as we change. We worry about very specific things as children. Kidnapping. Monsters. Being kidnapped by monsters. A child might worry Santa saw him hit his older brother, or that a story about a mountain that is actually a sleeping giant who will wake up and kill everybody is actually true.
As we get older, the things we worry about change. Teenagers worry they are not popular, adults worry they will get sick or run out of money, and old people worry they will die before they get to tell the world just what they think of it.
Childish worries are replaced by more mundane, more real concerns. Who is afraid of the Wolfman when the IRS has decided to turn its gaze toward them?
Who is worried about someday being abducted by aliens, when they are preoccupied worrying about someday getting an ulcer or a kidney stone? The mundane-yet-critical worries of adulthood make childhood worries seem like a breeze in comparison.
The things we worry about change. Sometimes they go away, but usually they are just replaced. As long as you are alive and thinking, there will always be something to worry about. Worry is consequence of thinking and paying attention. But the worst kind of worry is when we begin to worry about worrying itself.
“What’s wrong with me!? Why can’t I stop worrying?” Many people ask this, get caught in this thought quagmire, and then need professional help. But the simple answer to this question is that everyone is worried all the time. Even the people who don’t appear to be. We are humans. We are programmed to worry.
Worry is more like an annoying friend than an enemy. It is more of a helicopter parent than a malicious force. It will always be there.
So try not to worry about worrying.