Wednesday, November 14, 2007

There is no point in worrying

One of the worst afflictions of humankind is its proclivity for worrying. The malady affects almost every individual of the human species alike. There are extreme medical treatments for extreme cases of this illness (eg: tranquilizers, depressants). However there is a simple psychological treatment for this disease. The symptoms could range from reduction in efficiency under mild conditions to depression and hallucinations under the extreme conditions.

Psychologically worries are caused by negative thoughts, often repeated thoughts, mostly revolving around helplessness, inevitability, uncertainty, inability of the person under the given set of circumstances. The issue is normally aggravated by a vicious cycle of worry causing repeated reexamination of the issue under an even more negative frame of mind. The obvious results of worries include - loss of peace of mind, fall in concentration, decrease in ability, decrease in confidence, development of a negative frame of mind and ultimately depression. These are in addition to the physiological results that could range from increase of blood pressure to even a cardiac arrest.

A person can worry about anything and everything on this planet. The items and issues that he/she worries about can be broadly classified as items/issues the person has control over and items/issues the person does not have control over. Everybody gets infected by the worry germ once in a while. The rational person should, however, be able to identify and classify the cause of the worry, at the onset of the worry itself. Once the classification is done, it is a matter of simple decision making to set one's mind to not think about the item/issue the person is worrying about, if the item/issue is beyond the persons control. In the second scenario where the item/issue is within the person's control he/she should take necessary actions to bring the item /issue under his/her control and to obviate the cause for the worry itself.

Most people lose the ability to think coherently at the onset of the worry and hence derail at the first step of the solution itself. This is however a matter of practice. Start with small things you worry about and do away with the worries using the above strategy. Slowly tackle bigger worries. Pretty soon you will reach a carefree state of mind where you don't worry about anything at all. It is a very liberating feel once you reach that state. The moment you start your way out of your worries you will feel the sudden change in the quality of your life.

Let me explain with some simple examples. Worrying about not reaching office/school in time when waiting for your bus/riding in your bus - no amount of worrying could bring the bus a second earlier, You could instead try catching an earlier bus the next day. Worrying about rains - take an umbrella. Worrying about exams 1 month before the exams - study well and you wouldn't have to worry at all. Worrying about exams 10 minutes before the exams - worrying will only increase the chances of your making mistakes. Worrying about your performance at your job - Increase your ability/capability and performance will follow.

In simple words - if you can change it, change it, else stop worrying about it.


  1. what about having an incurable diseases? how does one copy with that without worrying?

  2. This might sound harsh but here is my take on it. If the disease is not curable then there is no point in worrying. Worrying is not going to help the person in any way. On the contrary it is going to make his/her life more miserable and on top of the incurable disease pile other worry related problems. Again, no disease is theoretically incurable. The body's chemical system is closely linked to the state of the mind. A happy and confident disposition is only going to increase the chances of the person recovering from the illness even if the disease is supposedly incurable.

  3. I am a medical student and one of our lectures deals with death and dying. On the subject of incurable disease or in an instance when you know you will die, you go through 5 Kubler-Ross stages (google it if you dont know about them). But the last stage is ACCEPTANCE, and it has been documented that it is during this stage that people often get remission back to normal. So, I think you are right, the worrying only makes it worse. I myself worry about exams like crazy.

  4. There you go, straight from the doctor's (err.. would-be-doctor's) mouth :-)