No one knows the future. Never has that been more true than the last few years, when the world as we knew it was thrust into uncertainty. Yet in many ways, this idea that we don’t know what the future holds has been a source of stress and anxiety for many.
Many people struggle with this fear of the unknown – this feeling that something bad or unwanted can happen at any moment. It’s a fear that all too often can cause people to feel intense anxiety in the moment, and possibly avoid trying to reach their goals as a way to protect themselves from unwanted outcomes.
Human Beings Are Survivors
In therapy, one of the things we talk about most is controlling the things we can control, and letting go of the things that we cannot. We cannot control the future, so allowing “what if” questions and worries to hold you back is ultimately determinantal to your mental health. If you’re always worried about worst case scenarios, then you’ll never do anything, because there is always a worst case scenario to imagine.
But there is something else that we often forget. Human beings are survivors. We can survive incredibly dire situations. We have the physical and emotional capability to survive and move on from terrible tragedies. Our bodies are designed to heal or respond to serious accidents and illnesses. Our minds are able to respond to loss and fear.
It doesn’t always feel that way, because we spend so much time focusing on the fears that these terrible situations might happen. But it’s important to remember that not only are these worst case scenarios extremely rare, but that we as people are also capable of surviving them and moving forward.
Knowledge Can Manage the Fear of “What If”
With all different forms of stress and anxiety, reminding yourself that what you are capable of surviving can take a little bit of the fear out of the idea of taking a risk. You can survive taking risks at work. You can survive the challenges of a long hike. You can survive the risks of empowering yourself in a relationship.
You can survive more than you think. If you feel like you’re having a hard time with “what ifs,” and you have a lot of fear of the unknown, remind yourself that even a “worst case scenario” is survivable, while the benefits of pursuing your goals and addressing your challenges has the potential to bring tremendous value to your life.