It is normal to feel afraid of the multitude of unfortunate, unpleasant and painful outcomes that we can encounter in life. Death, bereavement and grieving are natural aspects of our human condition. Our brain’s primary mission is to help to keep us alive. Worrying about future events is a way of trying to maximise the chances of us surviving them by being prepared. Fortune favours the prepared mind, after all.
Yet strong emotions will override our prefrontal cortex – that part of the brain that handles complexity and creates sophisticated contingency plans. Fear begets fear which begets panic, palpitations and sleepless nights. Prolonged sleep deprivation drags you into an ‘always-on’ vigilant state, which is tiring. We lose the ability to put things into perspective.
Here’s a suggestion: plan to deal with worst-case situations when they haven’t happened (yet). Allow your superb frontal lobe, logical-thinking brain to consider all the variables and prepare a range of options. Include a realistic assessment of how you might react emotionally should the occasion arise; in that way, at least you’ll not be surprised by surprise itself.
And if you recognise danger on the horizon, at least you’ll know it’s still some way off and you can put your plans into action with a calm mind.
Photo by Espen Bierud on Unsplash