How do you differentiate between productive worry and unproductive worry so that you can make the most out of your time? And what should you do in both situations?
Productive worry can be a good thing because it gives you a sense of urgency and pushes you to take action to that is good for you. However if you are in a position where you are unable to take action and still find yourself worrying, then you maybe in a state of unproductive worry.
Here are the main characteristics for each type of worrying:
Characteristics of Productive Worry
- It helps you to solve the problem
- It doesn’t last long
- It accepts that you can’t control everything
- It is not emotionally overwhelming
Characteristics of Unproductive Worry
- When you worry about events far in the future or past that don’t need a solution now
- When you accept only perfect or near perfect solutions to your problems
- When you worry about a situation that is out of your control
- When you imagine all kinds of unlikely outcomes
- When it’s emotionally overwhelming
A Simple Question
Every time you are worried and feel the stress piling up, ask yourself this question:
Is there some productive action I can take today that will help me to solve the problem?
If the answer is “Yes” then start immediately! Make a to-do list and start taking inspired action to achieve it. This is the best type of worry as it forces you to be productive and you’ll feel a lot more satisfied and happy once you’ve accomplished it.
However if you answered “No“, then the distress you feel is uncertainty. The challenge here is to accept that life is full of uncertainty and you cannot control everything in life. This acceptance will help you to stop worrying so much and you will feel better once you learn to let go.
Remember if you can’t do anything at this moment to make the situation better, then you are simply having unproductive worry and you should learn to let go of that fear.