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Five Signs of Unproductive Worry [and How You Can Change Them]

Updated: Apr 13, 2021

Is there such a thing as productive worry?

That is a tough question to answer, because the answer may not be what you think.

Worry is a concept that is driven by many factors like: anxiety and fear, genetics, learned behaviors, assumptions, or a general sense that you can control things.

Throughout my time in practice as a therapist, I have noticed people fall on a spectrum with this. On one hand, I have heard “I have always been a worrier,” while the other says, “I just fix the problem.”

Both are very common responses. The problem is, they’re not black and white solutions.


The, “I’ve always been a worrier,” person who believes worry prepares them or prevents surprises, is left in the land of “what ifs.” What ifs encompass infinite possibilities, which leaves them a lot to worry about.

The person who believes they can “just fix the problem” believes they have control without personal limitations. Not every problem has an immediate solution or has a solution that is less than desired, (for example, a job loss, diagnosis of illness or terminal illness, relationship dysfunction, etc.)


Think about your worry in two camps – productive and unproductive:

Signs of Unproductive Worry