Managing worry about the future

Managing worry about the future


Apprehensive worry involves worrying about the future, and it typically consists of focusing on worst-case scenarios. You see it all play out in your head: how making a necessary comment to your boss then somehow leads to you losing your job; how a routine medical investigation then means you are facing a horrible health outcome; how going for a job interview will result in rejection and humiliation; how spending time with your friends will somehow lead to everyone hating you. When you’re facing something that makes you a little anxious, it’s easy for your thoughts to take you to the worst-case scenarios, which will make you a lot anxious. And then you go over and over all the bad things that could happen, so the anxiety sticks around far longer than what is helpful.

But sometimes… you get a little attached to this thought process. If you can plan and prepare for bad outcomes, then you know that you can cope with them (in the unlikely event that they actually happen). So you take comfort in knowing that you can cope with bad outcomes in the future, as you’ve planned for this. But what gets overlooked is that you’ve actually been quite anxious in the meantime, and often unnecessarily- because the worst possible outcomes often don’t end up happening. 

So what can be done to help shift this process that causes distress and also serves a purpose for you? Having a balanced thought process about future outcomes is the key. And this can be done by asking yourself the following questions:

  1. What is the worst-case scenario that could happen? And, how likely is this to actually happen? If the worst happened, is there a chance that it could somehow work out ok?
  2. What is the best-case scenario that could happen?
  3. What is the most realistic or likely scenario to occur?

Trying to balance your thought process to consider positives, negatives, and realistic outcomes can help break the pattern of getting stuck in apprehensive worry. 

Read More