We all go through uncertain circumstances that tempt us into wanting to know the future. Since the unknown makes us feel unsafe, our minds are constantly trying to scan through the past and future in order to predict what is going to happen to us, and temporarily give us “relief” from the pain of uncertainty.
Sometimes we are successful in predicting the future and that makes us feel safe but then we want to make it the norm.
However, when we fail to predict the future, we get into emotional anguish and cognitive turmoil. The world we are living in is very unpredictable, ranging from the pandemic, politics, relationships, and so on, it seems as though everything just keeps shifting. Our minds are not able to ration away our uncertainty so we try and sooth our painful feelings with various coping mechanisms and diversions, thinking that it will stop it.
Anxiety is the upgraded version of fear.
Fear is a response when we feel threatened and are in danger and sometimes fear helps us to avoid danger. Anxiety on the other hand, comes in response to uncertainty, and can easily make us lose functionality because we tend to over think in an effort to “figure out” the future.
How does anxiety develop?
Since anxiety is a response to our survival, it can easily become a learned habit with a reward especially when we can predict the future and we are right. The opposite is also true, when we fail to predict the future, we worry about it. Worrying may not feel like a reward but it convinces us that we are doing something about our future and it also distracts us into thinking that we are in control.
“Worrying is Praying to Yourself”
Sometimes this worry motivates people into what they perceive as”success”, which convinces them that worry makes them do better, thus forming a bad habit creating more anxiety, more worry, leading to increased anxiety.
So how do we break this anxiety-worry cycle?
We need to clearly see through a more rational thinking process, that worrying doesn’t solve the fears of the unknown, it just fuels anxiety.
We need to explore what our anxiety feels like in our bodies and become curious and kind about it since worrying doesn’t resolve it. This is the difference between being “triggered” by fear, and subsequent anxiety, and learning healthier responses.
Curiosity and investigation creates a learning environment that helps us make sense of the world and we can relax even when we do not fully know everything. Instead of allowing anxiety to become a reactionary habit, we can learn to use uncertainty as a way of understanding our responses to the events and circumstances of life, and choose healthier and more effective outcomes.
All the events and circumstance of life offer us opportunity to grow and mature, if we choose to perceive them that way. When our perspectives change, new possibilities can become evident as anxiety has less power over us.
Damalie Namale – Senior EIS Counselor
Be sure to join Damalie and myself this coming Monday on EIS LIVE! You can send your questions NOW on Instagram!