But What If…

Nov 10, 2015 | Anxiety, Blog

worry and anxiety
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Do you worry a lot about what could happen in the future?

When a change is afoot in your life, do you often think the worst?

Perhaps when you think of the future, your mind creates a dystopia of the worst kind, complete with a sense of impending doom?

You’re certainly not alone if you often find yourself wondering ‘what if’ and then imagining all the bad things that could happen.

This is a tricky one, because there’s no denying that bad things do happen in the world… but what our anxious minds tend to do is to:

a. Give us an increased sense of the likelihood of bad things actually happening

b. Lower our belief in our ability to cope if bad things do happen

Which can easily lead to a perfect storm of worry and anxiety. The reality is summed up well by Mark Twain:

“I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”

As a result, we still end up suffering, despite everything turning out fine anyway.

Perhaps you were told as a child that ‘it’s a dangerous world out there, you’ve got to be careful!’ as so many of us were, by well meaning family members. This sort of thing can attune our minds to danger that is not there.

Maybe you did go through something traumatic in your past, and the worrying to try to protect you in the future.

Often I hear people say ‘what if there’s an accident, or something happens to my boyfriend, how will I cope?’ – I’ve certainly wondered this myself many times.I used to sometimes feel like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders, not only worried about myself, but for other people too.

I was speaking to my Grandma yesterday about this. She was a young teenager during the second world war and her father was away fighting. She told me something

interesting. Lots of the men were away at war and there was a lot of danger and death around. Despite this, everyone pulled together, supported each other and focused on being positive to make the best of a bad situation. People really were there for one another and through all the tragedy and difficulty, there was still happiness, love and positivity.

What I always try to remind myself and my clients, is that as human beings we all have inner resources and strengths within us that we don’t always know are there, but which we can call on, when we need them the most.

One of the best books I’ve ever read is Viktor Frankl’s ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’. He wrote this book having survived the Nazi concentration camps. He writes about the horrors of the holocaust, noting how humans are able to find meaning and hope in even the most challenging of situations.

Human beings as a species have been through so much, finding a way to cope and survive, no matter how difficult things have become. You have that same ability within you too, that’s been handed down to you down the generations. Humans are incredibly resilient. You are stronger and more resourceful than you think.

The answer to ‘what if’ is that… You’ll be able to cope with it, whatever might happen.

And, the most likely thing that will happen, is that it will all be fine

This all comes down to reminding yourself that you can trust in yourself to cope and that you will be ok.

Things are almost never as bad as your thoughts make them out to be, but even if something bad were to happen, you have the resources, strength and wisdom to cope with it.

I’d like to invite you to think about some of the challenges you’ve overcome; it might have been something difficult in childhood that you dealt with, a struggle at work that you bounced back from, giving birth to a child or a difficult relationship that you broke free of.

When we remind ourselves of the difficulties that we’ve managed to overcome, we reinforce this sense that we can trust ourselves to cope with things in the future.

Let us know in the comments about one struggle or difficulty you’ve overcome, or bounced back from.

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  1. Yogi banker

    Hi Chloe, I really like your note! For me, my challenges have been overcoming and managing general anxiety, OCD as well as some sexual trauma to work in a tough demanding professional city environment at a reasonably high level.. I am definitely stronger for it! Best wishes, YB

    • Chloe B

      Good to hear, thanks so much for sharing this Cx

  2. James Meacham

    Hi, this sums up how I feel sometimes, so it’s great to get a sense of perception. 🙂

    • Chloe B

      Thanks James, glad it helped 🙂

  3. Becky

    What a brilliant post! My experience definitely has been that even when things are at their darkest there is always a chink of light – you just have to find it! Love reading your posts, so keep ’em coming! 🙂 x

    • Chloe B

      Thanks so much Becky 🙂 xx

  4. Ruth Redd

    Thank you for your message.I am overcoming bipolar disorder which I have experienced during the last 30 years.
    I have my ways of coping and on the days when it’s all too much I just go with the flow until my mind becomes positive again and I can see how strong this illness now makes me.
    It doesn’t ever hold me back.I always remember when I’m ill that yes,I am ill,but I will feel better and just being kind to myself and not berating myself is the way forward.
    Love your posts,thank you.

    • Chloe B

      Wonderful to remind yourself that you will feel better, great advice to others. Thanks for reading and commenting, it means so much to me! xx

  5. Susanne

    Thank you Chloe for a lovely piece, very to the point, which I want to share with quite a few people who can benefit (including myself). The Mark Twain quote is one I often repeat to myself!
    Great writing too, if I may say so.
    Warm regards

    • Chloe B

      Thanks so much Susanne xx

  6. AnxiousMe

    When I was working in a high profile, stressful job, I found that sheer adrenalin kept me going, and somehow overcame the anxiety. Since I took early retirement and became a grandfather, I find myself anxious all the time! Not for myself, just worrying about those closest to me. So many thanks Chloe for your down to earth blogs. They help me keep a better sense of perspective and, yes, calm me down! Always look forward to them dropping into my inbox.

  7. Nelu Mbingu

    Hello Chloe

    Great article!
    I agree, we often undermine our ability to adapt to situations and to overcome the obstacles that we may face in the future. And that’s why we worry so much about what may happen. But luckily, we have writers like you to remind us we will be alright no matter what happens.

    Thanks for sharing this!


    • Chloe B

      Thanks Nelu x


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