Do you have a degree in advanced worrying?

image by pedrosimoes7

I was talking to a friend last week who shared that someone she knew lost a son at 42 to sudden illness. She was concerned, which is natural when we hear such news. But more than that, it was affecting her sleep and everything else she did. She explained that she couldn’t help but think of how she would feel if she lost her only son also now in his 40s. Even that is normal, but she was telling me that it was affecting her health to think her child could die before her and it was all she could think about.

Worrying is counter productive

I told her that if she remembered, I had struggled with that in the past too. I have two sons, 24 and 25, but both have been risk takers and given me nights of no sleep. Though sleeping is still a battle for me, it isn’t caused by worrying anymore. I realized somewhere along the way that worrying was counter-productive.

My mother-in-law was very good at worrying. I used to say she had a degree in advanced worrying. She didn’t think anyone should go anywhere if it was raining. When my youngest was in 8th grade and on a trip to DC, her biggest concern was making sure the bus driver would stop the bus if it started raining. When I told her no, she was very upset.

When is it okay to start worrying

Seth Godin’s post today asks, “when is it okay to start worrying” and the answer is never. In his usual succinct style, Seth explains that worrying isn’t useful.

Today’s economy has put many of us in positions of uncertainty but advanced worrying (worrying about things you have no control over than may never happen) will never help you. You are better off investing the time and energy you would spend worrying in steps to get you to move forward.

  • If you are worried about getting a job, spend the time making sure your resume is chock full of accomplishments.
  • If you are worried about the upcoming interview, spend the time doing mock interviews with family or friends and reviewing books with interview Q&A.
  • If you are worried about losing your job, spend your time doing your very best during all of the time you are at work not whining or complaining about management and build those accomplishments for your resume.

If worry is a battle you face daily, make today the day you take steps to stop letting it have control over you.


  1. Kim Woodbridge on October 23, 2011 at 7:35 am

    Hi Julie – I completely agree with worrying not being productive. I used to worry a lot about what if situations and now I think about what I can do to change the situation as worry gets me nowhere. I do still plan for the worst case scenario but it’s more because I want to be prepared rather than because I am worried that it will happen.

    • Julie Walraven on October 23, 2011 at 3:00 pm

      Planning for the worst case scenario is a good idea, Kim. It’s the people who just worry and do no planning that hurt themselves.

  2. Andrew Plath on October 23, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    I don’t know if you would really call me a worrier or not. I have concerns, but they are not really worries. Worries happen only when I am riding bike and some situation happens that could have been dangerous because somebody was doing something a little dumb.

    I basically try to let God do the worrying. If I loose my job, for instance, I trust that he will help me to find my place elsewhere. I believe in prayer.

    I just spent the last two weeks teaching Sunday School lessons on trust. We should trust in God above all things.

    • Julie Walraven on October 23, 2011 at 4:48 pm

      As your sister, both in real life and in faith, you know I agree. And as Kim said, on your bike you are only preparing for the worst case scenario. Thanks for stopping by, Andy

  3. John T. on October 26, 2011 at 10:48 am

    Now I know how my mom worry about me whenever I skate. I have a son now and every time he’s playing outside I worry to much. Because i don’t want him to get hurt something like that.

    • Julie Walraven on October 28, 2011 at 7:52 am

      Parents tend to worry but if you continue to give them support and clear limits, you will minimalize the chances that they will get hurt. They do need to learn to fail and fall. Thanks for stopping by, John!

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