My life has been full of terrible misfortunes most of which never happened. - Michel de Montaigne
Most people I know worry about something from time to time. Most of the time these worries are completely unwarranted or even irrational; some are temporary, others quite persistent. The fear of the unknown prevents many people from living their lives to the fullest.
Some people worry out of habit, others simply because they do not believe in themselves and their own capability to master life.
The worriers often believe that they were able to prevent many disasters simply because they worried in advance and could foresee all eventualities.
Worrying takes a lot of energy. It requires as much energy as the action the worriers are afraid to take. Worse even, worriers are often completely “incapacitated” and unable to think clearly. They are in a constant state of anxiety.
The fear of failure, fear of success, fear of some impending disaster, or the fear of who-knows-what, are often, but not always, based on some experience in the past. The memory of the past events may be skewed a bit, but the negative emotions, the emotional imprint from the past, remains as clear as if the events had happened only the other day. The worrier filters his or her reality through that emotional pattern and worries that the same thing will happen again. He or she does not trust the new situation or that the worse may never occur. He or she always expects the worse and either “makes” the worse happen through inaction, or “provokes” others to act as he or she expected. This pattern of thought lacks clarity and logic, but for the worrier the events occur in a perfectly feared order – just as expected.
The notorious lack of trust and self confidence may be a result of upbringing. Those who grew up in very protective environments with parents who constantly worried about things, may indeed be unable to deal with uncertainties and the sheer unpredictability of life.
The worriers in your life use up a lot of energy, theirs and yours. They leave you exhausted and disappointed, and maybe even hurt, but hopefully immune to the constant worry that fills their existence. You can offer them help and understanding, but if this does not work, therapy may be the next logical step.
However, if you are the person who constantly worry, you have to learn how to deal with your condition. There are few things you can start doing right away:
- Face your fear – examine all the causes of your fear.
- Embrace the possibility of a positive outcome – look to the past for situations that turned better than you have expected.
- Believe in yourself – focus on moments of success.
- Discuss your fear with a person you trust – others may offer alternatives that eluded you.
- Develop an action plan - being prepared for something that might come unexpected saves you a lot of worries of being caught unprepared. Do not overdue it, though.
Nobody can take away another person’s worries, but we can help a bit when we empathize with those who worry too much. A little understanding and emotional support will go a long way and may help the worrier to gain confidence. Life will remain unpredictable at times, but when we learn to face this unpredictability with courage, nothing will ever be able stop us. We will be able live our lives fully and worry about tomorrow tomorrow.
By Dominique Allmon