Do you worry a lot about what could happen in the future?
When a change is afoot in your life, do you often think the worst?
Perhaps when you think of the future, your mind creates a dystopia of the worst kind, complete with a sense of impending doom?
You’re certainly not alone if you often find yourself wondering ‘what if’ and then imagining all the bad things that could happen.
This is a tricky one, because there’s no denying that bad things do happen in the world… but what our anxious minds tend to do is to:
a. Give us an increased sense of the likelihood of bad things actually happening
b. Lower our belief in our ability to cope if bad things do happen
Which can easily lead to a perfect storm of worry and anxiety. The reality is summed up well by Mark Twain:
“I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”
As a result, we still end up suffering, despite everything turning out fine anyway.
Perhaps you were told as a child that ‘it’s a dangerous world out there, you’ve got to be careful!’ as so many of us were, by well meaning family members. This sort of thing can attune our minds to danger that is not there.
Maybe you did go through something traumatic in your past, and the worrying to try to protect you in the future.
Often I hear people say ‘what if there’s an accident, or something happens to my boyfriend, how will I cope?’ – I’ve certainly wondered this myself many times.I used to sometimes feel like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders, not only worried about myself, but for other people too.
I was speaking to my Grandma yesterday about this. She was a young teenager during the second world war and her father was away fighting. She told me something
interesting. Lots of the men were away at war and there was a lot of danger and death around. Despite this, everyone pulled together, supported each other and focused on being positive to make the best of a bad situation. People really were there for one another and through all the tragedy and difficulty, there was still happiness, love and positivity.
What I always try to remind myself and my clients, is that as human beings we all have inner resources and strengths within us that we don’t always know are there, but which we can call on, when we need them the most.
One of the best books I’ve ever read is Viktor Frankl’s ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’. He wrote this book having survived the Nazi concentration camps. He writes about the horrors of the holocaust, noting how humans are able to find meaning and hope in even the most challenging of situations.
Human beings as a species have been through so much, finding a way to cope and survive, no matter how difficult things have become. You have that same ability within you too, that’s been handed down to you down the generations. Humans are incredibly resilient. You are stronger and more resourceful than you think.
The answer to ‘what if’ is that… You’ll be able to cope with it, whatever might happen.
And, the most likely thing that will happen, is that it will all be fine
This all comes down to reminding yourself that you can trust in yourself to cope and that you will be ok.
Things are almost never as bad as your thoughts make them out to be, but even if something bad were to happen, you have the resources, strength and wisdom to cope with it.
I’d like to invite you to think about some of the challenges you’ve overcome; it might have been something difficult in childhood that you dealt with, a struggle at work that you bounced back from, giving birth to a child or a difficult relationship that you broke free of.
When we remind ourselves of the difficulties that we’ve managed to overcome, we reinforce this sense that we can trust ourselves to cope with things in the future.