The Dictionary of Psychology defines worry as an emotional attitude characterized by anxiety about the outcome of future events. So what does that mean?
Most of us concern ourselves with living on a budget, being concerned for family and friends experiencing difficulty, and staying healthy. It is normal for some events to trigger feelings of anxiety about the future – change in living situation, loss or illness of a loved one, or disruption of income. We would want to review the needs brought about by the change and plan carefully the next steps to insure a pleasant future.
Are you one of those people that burden yourself, your friends and family by being overly concerned about future situations that actually happen very seldom? You find your mind wrestling with the dangers that you feel are certain to happen even when statistics inform us that it is a rare event or something that we apparently have no control over.
An example of taking care of a daily concern is checking to make sure the doors are locked before you go to bed at night. This is normal.
An example of a “Worrier” is reminding your adult children to lock their doors at night because there are dangerous people who are sure to slip into their house that night if their doors are unlocked. On several levels, this burdens both you and your family members:
- Adult children are rational and independent and can determine safety standards in their home. Most people do not need to be reminded to lock their doors.
- Introducing your fear of the future to younger people who otherwise would just go about their normal daily business might cause them to be fearful.
- Your routine includes a time consuming process to check the door locks several times, just in case it was not locked properly to begin with.
Of course, it is good that you are concerned for others and their safety. But when you are filled with anxiety it may make others around you feel uncomfortable and they may begin to avoid you.
Some of us have learned to avoid situations or things that make us feel unpleasant and some of us have acted on these feelings to the extreme. For those of us that just feel unpleasant in certain situations, generally the best things to do is face these uncomfortable situations slowly with someone you trust. Here are some examples of the difference between normal fears that make us uncomfortable and being filled with anxiety.
Being around certain animals.
Going into crowded places.
Looking over a railing from a building.
Filled with Anxiety
Avoid going outside alone for fear of being attacked by a dog,
Refuse to go to a mall because you could be trampled by a panicked crowd in an emergency.
Do not allow your family members to go and enjoy themselves at an amusement park for fear that someone will fall.
You may want to seek professional advice when your fears keep you from being able to function in some normal manner (for example: interacting with family and friends, enjoying social events, working at a job or a volunteer position, driving), the symptoms are causing you significant distress, or the symptoms last for over six months. You may just feel worried in general for days, weeks, months at a time, too. Some people experience these following symptoms when feeling worried or anxious about the routine things that make up our daily life:
- Restlessness and feeling keyed up or on edge
- Being easily fatigued
- Difficulty concentrating
- Muscle tension
- Unsatisfying sleep
My mom used to tell us we were “Worry Warts” when we got anxious about tests that we had already studied for or because we coughed we worried about pneumonia. We all blow things out of proportion from time to time, but take the time to examine your worry habits – your approach to daily life. If you think you fit the descriptions above of someone that is filled with anxiety or have several of the symptoms above, ask someone you trust to talk with you honestly about that.
When you worry about the future, remember the proverb:
In just two days,
Tomorrow will be yesterday.