Worrying About the Future

Worry is in our emotional toolkit for a reason. Learn how to use it wisely.

I admit, I hate worrying. I worry a lot, but I don’t like it. To a certain degree, it feels pointless. But it isn’t. It’s in our toolkit for a reason. We worry when we need to plan.  Worrying about things that might go wrong, helps us plan a strategy in case they do. If something bad happens, and we have already thought of how we are going to deal with it, we solve the problem more easily. This is a good thing.

What isn’t good is worrying endlessly and unproductively. That is a waste of time.  So, here is how I approach worry.  I acknowledge it.  I am probably worrying for a reason. What is that reason?  Once I know, I can create a strategy for what I will do if this bad things happen. I find once I know how I will handle the worst that could happen, I tend to stop worrying.

What good is worrying?

Let me give you an example.  I am married and financially dependent on my husband. He used to travel for business and I was always worried he’d get in an accident and not come home.  This is the sort of worrying that can paralyze a person. As morbid as this was, I accepted my worry and came up with a plan on how I would deal with this possible outcome financially. Once I had that, I no longer worried endlessly. I worried, but I was able to tell my brain – relax – we have a plan and my brain would calm down and relax.

To me, normal worrying is about your brain saying – hey – you need to pay attention to this and come up with a plan. So I do.  If you are worried or anxious after you have a plan – it’s possible you may need additional help.  Or it’s possible you are worrying about something that can’t be fixed and you just don’t want to admit it. Either way – seeking professional help in these situations can be very helpful.

For instance, I was stalked for a while. I got very very nervous and anxious and my quality of life deteriorated. I was having 2 or 3 panic attacks a day. I finally saw a therapist and they helped me identify what was causing me all the anxiety. Turned out I was worried that no one would be able to get my stalker to stop. The reality was – no one could. Once I accepted that – I no longer had to worry about it. And yes, my case was that simple. Once I accepted the worst that could happen, my brain relaxed and I stopped having panic attacks. The hard part was that I was so terrified my brain wouldn’t even tell me what It was worried about which is why seeking a professional therapist was so helpful. They helped me help my brain calm down enough to sort out what it was truly worried about.

I realize it may seem odd, how I talk about my brain as if it is a different person at times, when it is really just me. But let’s be honest, we all talk to ourselves this way.  And sometimes the brain does listen.

To learn more about how to cope rationally and compassionately consider taking my Living Made Simpler course: http://humanistlearning.info/livingmadesimpler1/

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