Three Steps to Taming Fears of the Future

When my son was little, he often expressed fears about the unknown future: “What if I can’t make friends at my new school?” “What if I fail this test?” To ease his anxiety, I used to reassure him with a mantra: “99% of our fears never become a reality.” This wisdom repeatedly held true, reinforcing his trust in it. Also, he had the advantage of relying on his parents to bear his worries, offering a sturdy safety net against any looming dangers.

However, this method isn’t as effective for adults who don’t always have someone to entrust their fears to. But there’s another practical psychological technique that we can adopt.

Understanding the Root of Future-Oriented Anxieties

First, it’s crucial to disconnect your conscious self from your fears. Understand that it’s not you who’s scared, but rather your subconscious mind.

Second, it’s important to grasp the nature of your anxieties about the future. They stem from your subconscious trying to draw attention to an issue that’s troubling it. Its actions resemble a child persistently telling their mom, “I’m scared!”

Your subconscious seeks your attention by creating vivid, frightening images in your mind and releasing stress hormones in your body. This causes physical discomfort, making anxiety difficult to bear. If you try to avoid this state, your subconscious interprets it as neglect, and like a scared child, its cries grow even louder.

The solution is straightforward: we need to pay attention to and comfort our fearful subconscious.

Often, anxious individuals try to divert their subconscious with entertainment or numb it using medication, alcohol, or drugs. However, this approach doesn’t truly address the problem. Once the subconscious regains awareness, the cycle restarts, fears swirl, stress levels rise, and a sense of physical discomfort returns.

Step 1: “I Hear You”

Start by asking your subconscious, “What exactly are you afraid of?”

Don’t just outline the potential danger; delve into the specific consequences. For instance, “I’m afraid I won’t find love, and that’s devastating because ***.”

Let your subconscious express itself! Show your genuine concern for its distress by writing down its fears. If you’re writing, it means you’re involved and ready to help. This is why techniques like journaling and writing personal letters can significantly reduce stress levels.

Step 2: “Here’s My Plan”

The next important step is reassuring your subconscious that you’re ready to act. When your conscious self takes over, your subconscious can relax: “Finally, I can focus on my tasks!”

It has important tasks to attend to: it’s in charge of your health, nutrition, rest, and maintaining your energy levels.

Step 3: “We Will Work Together”

Lastly, it’s essential to convey that addressing the problem requires collaboration between your conscious self and your subconscious. The former initiates action, while the latter provides the energy to perform those actions.

In moments of uncertainty, I talk to my subconscious directly: “Hi there! I’ll need your help soon. We have a tough situation to handle, and it will require a lot of strength, willpower, and energy. Can you support me?”

By using this approach, we can bring order to our internal world and turn something intimidating into a game. In this playful environment, everything seems less daunting, even our fears.

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