How much of your time is spent dealing with anxiety and worry over something in the future?
How many times have you not tried something because you figured it wouldn’t work out?
I bet many people answered both of these questions with “a lot.” This is a common struggle for people because fear, anxiety and worry are powerful emotions that can rule our behavior whether we realize it or not. So how can we better navigate these emotions?
START ASKING YOURSELF “WHAT’S THE WORST THAT CAN HAPPEN?”
More often than not, it turns out we are worrying unnecessarily. Most of the time, the worst-case scenario that we are fearing is not as bad as we let ourselves think and is not even likely to occur. Asking yourself this question will help you start to understand that. Rather than just trusting our assumptions, we need to challenge them. That way we can nip worry and anxiety in the bud.
COMMON WORST-CASE SCENARIOS PEOPLE WORRY OVER
• Fear of Failure: We need to check in with what that means and why it’s such a big deal. A lot of times, people put so much pressure on themselves that what they see as failure is not viewed the same way from an objective perspective. Failure generally comes with disappointment, but remember your strengths and the fact that you can move on from facing disappointment. Think about if it is really better to never try even if the outcome is not as you hoped. Many people fear that if they fail, it means they are not good enough or that they are inadequate. It’s important to realize that this is not true and that it’s okay to not be perfect. After all, who is?
• Fear of Rejection or Being Judged: Being rejected or judged is difficult to deal with because we assume other people’s opinions and views are the truth and that they know better. Therefore, people often interpret rejection and judgment as if it means something real about them as a person. If, instead, you think about it in a way that recognizes that those who judge or reject you are not people that will add value and satisfaction to your life, then it is not the disaster that it seems. Additionally, when a person is so consumed with anxiety and worry about this, they look for proof. This leads to perceiving something as rejection and/or judgment even when that is not actually the case.
• Fear of Change/Unknown: Change is definitely scary because it is hard to predict what will happen. When facing change, we question whether we will regret our decision and not be happy with the change. We also worry over the stress that might come with the transition. Change is an inevitable part of life; you can choose to embrace it or let it negatively impact you. So why not try the change, and if it doesn’t work out, move on to something else? Worst-case scenario, a change doesn’t work out. Remember you can take action to rectify that.
WHAT CAN HAPPEN WHEN WE LET FEAR BE IN CONTROL
• Avoidance/not trying
• Anxiety and worry
• Physical distress
These things can stand in the way of our own happiness and satisfaction. You might miss out on some great opportunities or live your life in a semi-constant state of distress. Many times, if we don’t try, we end up regretting it and that leads to other negative emotions. For example, not pursuing relationships out of fear will likely lead to loneliness and sadness. You might have to encounter short-term distress in life, but isn’t that worth it to ultimately find happiness and satisfaction? The bottom line is that, generally, things turn out better than we think. Even when they don’t, experiencing all the anxiety and worry beforehand does not help or change anything. Instead of letting fear, anxiety, and worry rule your life, start to challenge your worst-case scenarios. Remember that being consumed with these fears only leads to worrying unnecessarily and stands in the way of your own happiness.
KEEP ASKING YOURSELF WHAT’S THE WORST THAT CAN HAPPEN AND THINK ABOUT THE LIKELIHOOD OF THAT EVEN BEING THE CASE!