Worry as a Badge of Honor: Choice Between Worry and Care

March 10, 2013

wearingLast week I had a client whom I was debriefing following her Energy Leadership Index Assessment (ELI). The ELI assessment provides insights into how we show up in various aspects of our life. It measures a person’s potential leadership ability by her or his level of consciousness – your awareness about who you are and what life is about. The assessment also shows your energetic reaction to stress so that you can recognize and, if desired, modify that reaction.

My client’s answers signaled that she carries ‘constant weight on her shoulders‘.

Upon some consideration, what I found out was both surprising yet quite common.  In spite of feeling overburdened, restricted and often overwhelmed, my client prides herself on ‘being constantly worried’ about her children, her family, her life and the entire world. I realized that being a perpetual ‘worrier’ is a source of personal satisfaction to her. She wears her worry like a badge of honor. She is not alone. My mother too liked to think that she did not have a choice whether to worry or not, so she worried about problems that were not hers to fix. More remarkably, she equated worrying with being a good person and parent.

Worry is a profoundly human experience. In fact it is an attempt at removing possible threats. Threats exist strictly in the mind and refer to potential bad events in the future. The vast majority of bad events that are feared are not going to happen anyway.

However, someone who worries habitually does it with the intention to prevent bad things from happening in their life, or more often than not, in somebody else’s life.

Constant worrying for others stems from a lack of trust that everyone has his or her consciousness. In fact, worrisome state suppresses a person’s ability to generate trust and to be truly present to others. Worrying about everyone else divides our attention and energy.

This type of worry is a main cause of many diseases and conditions. My client’s worrisome state has hugely noticeable effect on her physical health, weight and moods.

I believe that she does have a choice. She can stay firmly grounded in what and whom she cares about without tormenting herself and others with disturbing thoughts about what may or may not happen in the future, especially for others in her life.  The choice is between worry and care, don’t you think?

12 Comments. Leave new

Cynthia Sumner
March 13, 2013 8:26 pm

A very interesting perspective that connects awareness with the ability to choose. So often times when we are in a state of perpetual worry, we can’t even see any other options are available. It’s like our brain gets stuck in one gear. I’d like to hear more about the solutions you provide clients to help them shift gears into greater range of movement. There’s a lot of power in the tools that comes from awareness and self management. You are really on to something here.


Thank you Cynthia for your insightful comment. I approach every client individually. A recent client realized that being a worrier does not make her pleasant to be around. It often makes her touchy, fretful, and resentful. We have been working on shifting her energy from catabolic to anabolic with good results.


Nice blog! You have given me much to think about. I do worry but never connected that with how much I trusted others. Thank you!


Thanks for your comment. That was quite an “aha” moment for my client, as well as several people I spoke with about it.

Mark Edward Brown
April 4, 2013 1:23 pm

Hi Renata, I do agree with you that caring is a better plaform of reference than worrying. I think that “care” empowers one to act out of concern vs. worry being a motive for all sorts of negative emotions and actions. Thanks for your viewpoint and dialogue 🙂
~Coach Mark Edward Brown


The difference is sometimes imperceptible but could be life changing. Thanks Mark.

Cathy Severson
April 5, 2013 3:21 pm

I love the photo. It’s great. I have a client whose mother hired me to help him. Since then she and I have had a couple of conversations (with his approval.) I feel for her, because she is so worried he’s going to make a mistake that she is both worried and trying to micromanage the life of this young man. She’s not my client, so I’ve had to be careful what I say, but her worrying about him is part of the problem. By the same token I have my own child who is desperately struggling. I know my worrying will not help, but OMG, it’s very hard to walk emotionally. Yes, it’s a choice and I try to make it every day, but it’s not always easy.


Cathy, I like how you connected your client’s and your own narratives on the emotional level as a parent. It seems that in your client’s situation, his Mom is the worrier from my article – someone who does not trust her son to be able to consciously decide. That’s the “worry badge carrier” par excellence. I detect no such judgement on your part. Thanks for commenting.

Lily-Ann MacDonald
April 6, 2013 9:17 pm

I know several people who do wear their worry as a badge of honor, and it can be very disconcerting to spend time with them. They even make life-choices around what they project the needs of their select people might be, which to me suggests more ‘co-dependence’ than ‘caring’ … it can become a bit pathological.

It’s difficult to be on the receiving end of such smothering attention, too … this I learned first hand. But it’s just as exhausting to watch them stew and worry about the need to create a series of options and plans for situations that haven’t (and may never) come to fruition.

An interesting article, for sure …


Lily-Ann, Thanks for your comments. I like your choice of words – “smothering attention” and “stewing” especially as they depict the uneasiness and weight of those catabolic relationships.


It’s a habit. Even if the client is aware of the problem (which is the first step), changing the behavior takes time. Worry is usually justified by fear that something bad might happen in the future.


FEAR is exactly right – fear of judgement for the past and fear of the future, which we certainly don’t know much about. How do you help your clients see that “worry” is indeed a “habit”?


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