Why it can be good to worry
Some people are born worriers while others seem to be like the Ready Brek kid surrounded in a warm glow, taking everything in their stride confident that all will be well. Most of us fall somewhere in between and when you start dating even the most laid back person may find themselves prone to worry, but this is not necessarily a bad thing.
It helps us survive
Worrying is the natural way that human beings have evolved and is a useful and necessary part of our cognitive processes. It is very closely tied with fear – we worry that something bad is going to happen and beneath that is the fear that we won’t be able to cope if it does – the truth is that you have already coped with many things and will cope and survive many more.
In a recent piece in the Huffington Post ‘Good Worry’ – How Worrying Well Can Help You Manage Stress – Dr. Martin Rossman said “worry is an adaptive survival function: we use our imaginations to anticipate potential dangers, then develop ways to avoid them. Worry helps keep our loved ones and ourselves alive.”
Worry is our imagination doing what we have asked it to – to look ahead and see what we need to do to protect ourselves. Unfortunately this natural and healthy function can become over-developed especially in the area of relationships. We learn from experience and if you have been hurt in a past relationship it is natural that you will worry that it will happen again. If your worry is chronic it may be that you won’t even go on dates or when you go on dates you are very uptight and defensive and it is impossible for anyone to get close to you. It is important to remember that worrying is your mind’s way of trying to look after and protect you but you have control over its direction.
Habit of mind
Just like any other part of the body the brain is extremely adaptable and it will focus your attention where you want it. If, for example, you are always worrying about how you look then it can be useful to really take notice of the things that worry you and put some positive action into changing them if you can. This is a key question to ask about any worry – what can I do about it?
If you are worried a match may not be who they say they are you can do some background checks; if you are worried you won’t have anything to say on a first date then read articles around the subject like 10 brilliant first date questions and be open to trying some of the suggestions. Whatever your worry is, asking what you can do about it is a good way of motivating you to take action. Do whatever you need to do to help you feel safe. A useful way of thinking about it is as though your worry were a small child – what would you say, or do, to them to make them feel better about a situation? Learning how to treat yourself with love and compassion when you are worried, rather than beating yourself up for being scaredm will go a long way towards you being able to take the appropriate action when needed.
One thing in life is certain – it is unpredictable. According to research 85% of the things we worry about never happen. According to Dr Rossman this could trick the brain into thinking that it was because you worried about them that they didn’t happen but the reverse is also true – many things we never worry about do happen. The key in all of it is that you learn to accept the uncertainty of life and particularly of romance – change what you can and accept what you can’t. No amount of worry about the weather will change the direction of the wind!
Here and now
When you are worrying about an upcoming date or a new relationship people often worry that things that happened in the past will happen again in the future e.g. maybe they had a partner who cheated on them and are now hyper-vigilant to any signs that it is happening again. This is completely natural and the best thing you can do is talk it through with someone. Being open and honest and sharing your worries takes the power out of them and can help you find out what action you could take in order to feel safe. Confiding a worry to someone shows that you trust them and that in itself is a good thing – a problem shared is a problem halved.
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