Feeling anxious? Me, too! It seems I’m often battling a litany of “What if…?” thoughts. What if I mess up? What if I say the wrong thing? What if that person doesn’t like me? What if I can’t pay that bill? What if the car breaks down on a long trip? What if that official letter in the mail is bad news?
Some of you are facing big fears – what if it’s cancer? What if it’s terminal? What if they want a divorce? What if I lose the baby? What if I lose the house? What if I’m pregnant? What if they find out what I did?
Fear can be paralyzing. I think worry thoughts are so powerful because they are about the unknown. When we don’t know something we tend to think the worst. The false belief about worry and fear is that we have the idea that we are taking control by worrying about it. Not true! We have this illusion in our culture that we can control things when we really can’t. Here are a few tips that can help. I’ll have more tips in another article.
- You’re not in control, so let it go
- Answer the “What if…?” question
- Don’t Google it!
You are not in control, so let it go. We like to think we have things under control, but we don’t. When you accept that you only have limited control over things (like your own actions), it creates freedom. If you can’t control others, you’re free to let go of trying to control them. This is the concept of surrender – letting go of that which we do not control. The Bible has 33 verses that basically boil down to this – do not fear, for I (God) am in control. One of my favorites is Matthew 6;34: Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” God is basically saying – focus on today, I’ll take care of tomorrow.
So, okay Mike, I don’t want to be scared anymore what do I do? Here’s a few tips you can use.
Answer the “What if” question. In other words, face that fear! Answer the question – what if you lose your job? First off, how likely is that? If it is likely, plan for it. Come up with a game plan – update your resume, start looking for other jobs, open that business you’ve always wanted to start, etc. Don’t just quiver in fear with your head in the sand – take action! If you do lose your job, it’s not actually the end of the world. Some answers to your what if question will be pretty bad, some won’t be so bad. It might feel awful, but that’s only a feeling, not reality. Feelings come and go. The rest of it can be managed.
Don’t Google it! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve helped someone with anxiety who has made their anxiety 100 times worse by Googling physical symptoms. Google is not a doctor. Google can be an excellent resource, but it can also be GIGO – Garbage In, Garbage Out. Looking up physical symptoms on Google will lead you down a very dark hole where you’ll be convinced you have some rare and terrible disease. Stay off the internet when you’re anxious!
These are some simple tips that can be of help. If your anxiety is causing you great difficulty, please consider talking to a professional who can help you work through it. If you’re not sure how to apply these to your life, a therapist may be of help.
This article is not meant to provide clinical, therapeutic or legal advice. This is not a substitute for professional therapeutic help. If you’re in need of professional help, please contact me or a professional like me. This is offered as educational information only.