By Gladys Agwai
Emily is a driven corporate professional with a determination that matched her ambition. Her days were a whirlwind of meetings, deadlines, and decisions. Emily was known for her strong work ethic and dedication, but behind her confident exterior, she carried a secret burden that was taking a toll on her.
Before she stepped into the office, she cried in the parking lot clenching her stomach that was knotted with anxiety. She always expected the worst feeling like she had not done enough. She felt this way no matter how well a project had progressed or how positively she was viewed by her colleagues.
Emily’s sleep became restless with dreams of missed deadlines and critical mistakes. The weight affected both her work and personal life as she avoided friends. Her once vibrant energy was slowly fading as the anxiety drained her enthusiasm. She needed help. Her story like so many others serve as a reminder that the mind’s constant anticipation of negative outcomes can create unnecessary suffering.
Life is often like a roller coaster, with its ups, downs, twists, and turns. Imagine you are in a roller coaster climbing that first hill feeling a mix of excitement and fear. You hold onto the safety bar, tense with anticipation for the inevitable drop that lies ahead. This parallel mirrors the way you may approach life. Are you always braced for impact, expecting challenges and difficulties at every turn? If so, your body is like a car always revving its engine. You are always in a hurry even when you are not really in danger. It is natural to want to be prepared for life’s uncertainties, the problem arises when this mentality becomes a default way of thinking. For example:
Þ When always on the lookout, your heart races, muscles become tense, and your five senses become very alert.
Þ If you are always running 200 miles per hour, your body will get tired. The stress of expecting problems drains your energy, making you feel tired even when you have not done much physically.
Þ Your brain struggles to remember things and make decisions signaling to you that your energy is too low.
Þ Your emotions get crazy being grumpy, worried, sad, angry, or frustrated even when things around you are okay.
Þ Stress can make your stomach upset feeling queasy or you may lose your appetite.
Þ Your focus on what can go wrong worries you making you feel alone. It is harder to connect with family and friends.
Þ It is difficult for you to relax, unwind, slow down, and take a break.
Þ Your body uses up a lot of resources that can make you prone to sickness and disease.
The pain caused by constantly bracing for impact robs you of the ability to live in the moment. You can be so preoccupied with what might go wrong that you forget to appreciate what is going right. The constant state of having to be alert will exhaust you both mentally and emotionally putting you in a perpetual state of fight or flight, contributing to anxiety and burnout. Overcoming the bracing mentality requires a shift in mindset – a transition from resistance to adaptability. To overcome this need:
Þ Become aware of your thought patterns. Notice when you catch yourself anticipating the worst. By recognizing these moments, you can start to challenge and reframe these negative thoughts.
Þ Focus on the present moment without judgment to help ground you and reduce the tendency to ruminate about the future. Techniques like deep breathing and meditation can be incredibly effective.
Þ Even when uncertain, embrace the fact that not everything can be controlled or predicted. This does not mean you are powerless; it means you are open to the opportunities that arise.
Emily decided to let go, and free herself from unnecessary stress. This led to an improvement in her mental and emotional well-being, leading to a more positive outlook on life. Embracing uncertainty enhances your ability to adapt to change. Instead of fearing challenges, approach them as opportunities for growth. This resilience is a valuable skill that can help you navigate life’s ups and downs. Being fully present in the moment, you engage more authentically with others. Relationships thrive when built on genuine connections, unburdened by the weight of constant worry. By shifting your perspective, you open yourself up to creative thinking and innovative problem-solving in your life. You have the power to experience life more deeply, build resilience, foster meaningful connections, and unlock your creative potential.
“Worrying is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do but gets you nowhere.” Erma Bombeck