CONCERN and WORRY

So what, if any, is the difference?

What, me worry?

© 2021 Bill Murphy

Concern, the definition

That which affects one’s welfare or happiness. A matter of interest to someone. The adposition before the matter of interest is usually over, about or for.

(Adposition – the meaning of that complicated word is:  An element that combines syntactically with a phrase and indicates how that phrase should be interpreted in the surrounding content.  The key words here are; phrase, interpreted, and content.

Similar words for concern are: Deal with, cover, discuss, examine, to address, study, look into, to inquire about, regard.  Basically, to be concerned about something means to take it into consideration. 

Worry, the definition

Worry is having a strong feeling of anxiety.  To be troubled, to give way to mental anxiety.  

Similar words for worry are: Anxiety, apprehension, fear, uneasiness, dread, misgiving, apprehensiveness, uncertainty, having the willies.

A wise teacher once told me, ‘It is what it is.’  then they explained that remark my saying, ‘It’s not necessarily what you think it is.’  This little truism is why the stage magician can so easily trick us.

When we consider the meanings of these two words, concern and worry, we see that concern pertains to things and events which we have a distinct control over… that is: We the ability and opportunity to altar the perceived outcome.  However, worry is a mental activity involving things and events over which we have no control, neither do we have the opportunity nor the ability to change them.  Worry is a hopeless and helpless state of mind.  Basically worry is futile!

If you are on a roller-coaster, and you discover that this in NOT fun, you decide that YOU WANT OFF…now!  If the ride has an emergency button, you hit it, and get off.  That’s exercising your CONCERN, and doing something about it.  However, if you decide to suck it up and RIDE… and suddenly, at the top of the tallest peak, the car jumps the tracks… and now your hurtling toward the ground!  This is the time to WORRY!  You’ll soon crash into the ground and you’re helpless to do one thing about it!

There are numerous words in the English language which we incorrectly believe to be of similar in meaning.  Repeat a falsehood often enough and it begins to sound like truth.  Movies and TV have told us for years that sex outside of marriage (fornication) is simply ‘making love.’  There’s a lot of sex in the world today that’s far, far removed from anything remotely like love.

That said, I’ve acquired the label of a ‘worrier.’  

Am I concerned about some things that appear not to concern others? Yes.

I’m sure that you’re heard the expression, ‘There goes an accident about to happen.’  We use this to express our opinion that we perceive that all of the elements are in place for an accident to happen.  Notice the use of the words opinion and  perceive.  

The same holds true for the word worry.  I’ve acquired the label of a ‘worrier’ because I’m perceived to be worrying, therefore, others people’s opinion is that I ‘surely must be’ worrying.  But I’m not.  I’m concerned

It’s been said that one of the ‘biggest words’ in the English language is ‘IF’.  

Think of ‘if’ as a fork in the road… where we have a choice of which path to take.  After we’ve taken the wrong path, then we recognize our error and we wish that we’d taken the other path… we look back and reflect.  But now it’s too late to WORRY about it.  We’ve already where we don’t want to be!

But back at that fork in the road, when we pause and consider carefully the consequences of possibly making the wrong decision, that’s concern.  That’s our opportunity to do something about our decision, to weigh our options, to gather the facts.  

I also ‘guilty’ of telling a lot of stories from my past.  I memory banks of filled with unique and unusual stories to tell.

I’m reminded of a family vacation event which happen in the early 1950s.  We were in Colorado at the time, in an arid, mountainous, ‘bad-lands’ region.  The purpose was to see an old abandoned gold mining town.

Dad spotted a tour-guide JEEP, with driver-guide and 3 or 4 sight-seers.  A sign on the side of the jeep proclaimed that it took visitors up to the actual mine.  “Let’s follow them!” Said Dad.  And we did.  We followed them UP THE MOUNTAIN.

I was of course, excited.  Mom and my sister were worried.  It was NOT a paved road up the mountain, and it was NOT wide.  It proved to be a winding, one-jeep wide road…with no guard rails.  Occasionally, the jeep ahead would stop and the folks would turn and shake their heads in disbelief.  We continued to follow.

Being a back seat passenger, and an obedient son, there was not much I could do about my darkening situation.  My excitement had long sense morphed into what I perceived to be CONCERN and straight thru into full-blown WORRY.  In a few more difficult yards, Dad also had begun to be genuinely concerned!

Around the next tight little bend in the road, we came upon a narrow place that was less narrow than we’d seen in quite a while.  ‘Wide place’ was NOT a suitable definition.  But to Dad, he saw it as a glimmer of hope in desperate times.  

Backing down the mountain was NOT an option… that would be an open invitation to disaster.  Somehow he had to get the car headed in the other direction.  It was no simple task, and not one for the faint hearted.  But somehow, inch by precarious inch, he maneuvered that big ole Chrysler back and forth, front bumper touching solid rock walls, and rear tires coming to with a quarter of an inch to a sheer drop-off.  Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.

Ahead the jeep came to a stop.  Vacationeers had their cameras out.  And when Dad made that last maneuver, and we could finally retrace our path down the mountain… everyone in the jeep let out a cheer!  We in the Chrysler let out an equally loud sigh of relief.

I can’t think of a better way to illustrate the definitions of CONCERN and WORRY, and how they affected all of us involved that day, than this exciting up and down the mountain adventure!   

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