Worrying is a way of life for many of us. The minute we wake up we begin worrying. Am I going to get to work on time? Am I in the right relationship? Does the new boss like me?
It is normal to have a sleepless night before an important presentation. However, too much worrying can make life difficult to enjoy. Have you ever sent someone a text or email and then started obsessing over the wording?
Why hasn’t she responded yet? Did I say something stupid? Should I have even sent the message? Are they not going to like me anymore?
You start reading and re-reading the message. Your heart starts to race. Your palms become sweaty. The longer the person takes to answer the text or email, the more worried you become. Dread takes up residence in the pit of your stomach.
Most of the time the worrying turns out to have been for nothing. But worrying is part of how we have evolved as humans. It is our built-in fight-or-flight response that our ancient ancestors utilized when faced with danger in their environment.
Back then, a threat meant life and death. Our ancient ancestors were always on high alert for danger – always preparing for the worst.
The threats we face today are no longer life and death. But we still live with that fear instinct by focusing on the unlikely possibility that something bad will happen.
We will never be able to completely erase our internal fear instinct, and we should not want to as it does serve a purpose. But we need to learn how to recognize real fear from perceived fear and how to quell our worries.
Ask yourself these questions next time you become fearful and start to worry:
“What is it that you’re really afraid of?”
Then ask yourself,
“What is the likelihood that this fear will come true?
Often the anticipation of the fear is what drives our fear and worry rather than the fear itself. Often the answer to this question evokes a realization that the fear is just that – an unfounded fear.
However, if the fear persists ask yourself these questions,
“What is the worst thing that could happen? Can I deal with it? Will I be okay?”
Most likely you will come to realize that whatever you fear – that thing that is unlikely to occur – is survivable. You have probably felt like this before and have survived.
Remember… you were born with an instinct to fear. However, being in a state of perpetual fear does not serve you. Remind yourself of what is likely to occur or not and that you can survive the worst.
Like our ancient ancestors, you are a survivor too!