What Does Concerned Really Mean? Unpacking the Emotion

In our daily lives, we all experience a range of emotions, and being concerned is one of them. Concern is a feeling that arises when we are worried or anxious about something, and we want to address that issue. However, what does concerned really mean? Is it a negative or positive emotion? How can we use our concern in a positive way? This article aims to unpack the emotion of concern and provide some answers to these questions.

The Definition of Concerned

Concerned is an adjective form of the verb concern. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it means “worried or anxious”, “having an interest or involvement”, or “showing care for someone or something”.

When we are concerned, we feel uneasy or troubled about a situation, person or thing. We may feel that we need to take action to address the issue, or we may simply want to express our empathy and support.

The Positive and Negative Aspects of Concern

Concern can be both positive and negative, depending on how we use it. On the positive side, concern can stimulate us to take action to solve a problem, prevent a disaster or help others. When we are concerned about something, we are more likely to think critically, plan carefully, and act responsibly. Concern can also motivate us to be more empathetic, compassionate and supportive towards others.

On the negative side, concern can sometimes turn into worry, anxiety or fear. If we become too concerned about something, we may become paralyzed, overwhelmed or stressed. We may also become too attached to the outcome of the situation and lose sight of the bigger picture. Concern can also make us judgmental, critical or pessimistic if we don’t balance it with positivity, flexibility and creativity.

The Relationship Between Concern and Empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. When we are concerned about someone, we usually feel empathetic towards that person. We may imagine what he or she is going through, and “put ourselves in their shoes”. Empathy can help us connect with others, build trust and rapport, and offer emotional support.

On the other hand, empathy can also become a source of concern if we become too attached to the feelings of others. If we let ourselves be affected too much by the suffering or pain of others, we may become overwhelmed, exhausted or burnt out. We need to balance our empathy with self-care, boundary-setting and healthy coping strategies.

The Role of Concern in Decision-Making

When we are concerned about something, we may need to make a decision regarding that issue. Our concern can influence our decision-making in both positive and negative ways. On the positive side, concern can help us think critically, gather information, and evaluate options. We may seek the advice of others, consult experts, and analyze the risks and benefits of each choice.

On the negative side, concern can hinder our decision-making if we become too emotional, biased or reactive. We may jump to conclusions, neglect important factors, or overlook alternative solutions. We may also postpone or avoid making a decision if we are afraid of the consequences or unsure of our abilities.

The Benefits of Expressing Concern

Expressing concern can have numerous benefits for us and others. When we express concern, we show that we care, that we are supportive, and that we are willing to help. We may also prevent a problem from escalating, a conflict from escalating, or a relationship from deteriorating. Expressing concern can also help us build trust, rapport, and intimacy with others.

However, expressing concern also requires some skills and sensitivity. We need to communicate our concern in a clear, respectful, and non-judgmental way. We also need to listen actively, validate the feelings of others, and offer practical support or solutions if appropriate. We need to avoid being preachy, controlling, or overwhelming.

The Strategies for Dealing with Concern

When we are concerned, we may use various strategies to cope with that emotion. Some strategies may be helpful, while others may be counterproductive. Below are some of the strategies for dealing with concern:


The first step in dealing with concern is to acknowledge and accept it. We need to be aware that we are concerned, and recognize the triggers, the reasons, and the intensity of our concern. This awareness can help us gain a better understanding of our emotions and avoid denying or suppressing them.


Once we are aware of our concern, we need to assess the situation objectively. We need to gather information, evaluate the risks and benefits, and weigh the options. We may consult others, seek feedback, and balance our intuition with our reasoning.


After we have assessed the situation, we need to take action, if necessary. We may need to make a decision, communicate our concern, offer help or support, or take preventive measures. We need to maintain a sense of control, competence, and responsibility in our actions, and avoid being reactive, hasty or impulsive.


Lastly, we need to affirm ourselves for our efforts and results. We may acknowledge our strengths, skills and resources, and express gratitude for the support and help we received. We need to celebrate our achievements, however small they may be, and let go of any regrets, doubts or self-criticism.

The Conclusion

Concern is a complex and multi-faceted emotion that can have both positive and negative aspects. When we are concerned, we need to balance our empathy, critical thinking, and action-taking skills. We also need to express our concern in a clear, respectful, and supportive way, and avoid becoming too emotional, reactive or judgmental. By dealing with our concern effectively, we can enhance our well-being, build healthy relationships, and contribute to the welfare of others.


What is the difference between concern and worry?

Concern is a feeling of worry or anxiety about something that is important to us. Worry, on the other hand, is an excessive and persistent concern about something, often without a rational or realistic reason. Concern is a normal and beneficial emotion, while worry can be detrimental to our health and well-being.

Can concern be a sign of mental illness?

While concern is a normal and healthy emotion, it can sometimes indicate a mental health issue if it becomes too intense, persistent, or debilitating. For example, excessive concern about the safety of one’s loved ones can be a symptom of anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder. If you are concerned about your level of concern, seek help from a mental health professional.

How can I express my concern without being judgmental or critical?

To express your concern in a non-judgmental or critical way, try to use “I” statements instead of “you” statements. For example, say “I’m concerned about your health” instead of “You’re not taking care of yourself”. Also, try to listen actively, validate the feelings of others, and offer support or assistance if appropriate. Avoid giving unsolicited advice or criticizing others’ choices.

What are some healthy coping strategies for dealing with concern?

Healthy coping strategies for dealing with concern include practicing self-care, such as getting enough sleep, exercise and healthy food, relaxing and engaging in enjoyable activities, seeking social support and help, expressing your emotions constructively, using positive self-talk and affirmations, and learning stress-management techniques such as mindfulness or meditation.

How can concern help me in my career?

Showing concern for your colleagues, customers or clients can enhance your reputation as a caring and responsible professional. It can also help you build trust, rapport and loyalty with others. However, you need to balance your concern with professional boundaries, assertiveness, and respect for others’ privacy and autonomy.


  • Merriam-Webster Dictionary: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/concerned
  • Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/empathy
  • Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/positive-thinking/art-20043950
  • Harvard Health Blog: https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/relaxation-techniques-breath-control-helps-quell-errant-stress-response
  • Greater Good Magazine: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_to_build_trust_at_work

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