Worry And Action

By  | 

Your worry is like a beacon light exposing a threat that would otherwise remain shrouded in darkness. But once you have deduced exactly what that threat is your worry becomes redundant, counterproductive even. You could be using that time and energy expenditure on finding a solution to make the threat go away.

The problem is that existential anxiety can be paralyzing. Feelings of worry are so intense, so pressing, that we forget to focus on what is actually causing these feelings, focusing instead on the feelings themselves, a situation we might call meta-worry. Most only see the negative aspect of existential anxiety, how uncomfortable and unwanted the state is, neglecting to consider that they are receiving  important information about a threat in their environment, symbolic or real, that needs immediate attention.

Karen Horney communicated this idea when she wrote, “Concern should drive us into action, not into a depression.” The action we are driven into should of course be to overcome whatever it is we are worried about, a strategy that sounds exceedingly obvious except that most of us don’t follow it. We get caught up in the cycle of worry, worrying about worrying, and the result is a state of psychic and behavioral paralysis.

The real issue isn’t worrying. Like we said the ability to worry means the potential to deduce a threat, a vital component for determining a course of action to overcome or at least escape from that threat. The issue is when we, for whatever reason, ignore the source, the threat, and focus instead on the feelings that are being generated, allowing existential anxiety to stay around long past its usefulness to us.