February 12, 2018 at 1:38 am #191977
Dear all, can anyone help? I have a reasonably happy life and am somewhat ashamed to put this topic on here after seeing how some other people are suffering so much. But recently I have been experiencing feelings of ‘doom and gloom’ and I can’t seem to be able to enjoy life for worrying about ‘what might happen’. I am afraid of getting old and infirm (I am in my 50’s and keep myself fit). I am very scared of ‘falling off the ladder’. I’ve just spent a weekend with some lovely friends but instead of being able to enjoy it all I was thinking was ‘what will happen when I cant do this anymore – what will happen when my friends are no longer around’? I go for wonderful walks (either alone or with friends) and worry what it will be like when I am no longer fit enough to do it. Has anyone else had these feelings? If so how did you deal with them? I just want to live for now and not be bogged down with worry about ‘what if…..’
Thank you, and peace to all. xFebruary 12, 2018 at 7:44 am #192019
This kind of anxiety as I know it myself is maybe unavoidable in that we are the only animals who know (however much we keep it away from our awareness) that we will die, no way to avoid it. And we know that we can get sick anytime. We can minimize the chances of getting sick and infirm best we can, but we can’t guarantee it, not when young and not when older. And, if we live long enough, we will get infirm no matter what.
Maybe this anxiety fits into the term people use, existential anxiety. I try to accept reality best I can. All living things die so I figure it means it is not such a tragedy, meaning, but the mere fact that dying is business-as-usual in nature.
anitaFebruary 12, 2018 at 10:00 am #192047
“We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality. -Seneca
I know it well. Experiencing the suffering of an imagined tomorrow… today. Why waist an opportunity to suffer today for a future opportunity that might not happen… I had to ask myself… did I like suffering? I know that sounds wack but why else would I be allowing myself to miss out on the present moment in order to worry and suffer about an imagined future. I must want to suffer… and at some level that was/is actually true. Lord knows I am good at creating the opportunities.
Anyway, I found taking the time to examine the stories I tell myself for cognitive distortions helpful. I also acknowledge that I’m a defensive pessimist. Meaning that when presented with a problem I tend to focus on what could go wrong so that I can take steps to prepare and prevent it. Once I have a plan the worry subsides. (I should note being a defensive pessimist is not a negative or positive attribute its just a way of avoiding stress when solving problems. You don’t want a strategic optimist building your house though you might want them to help you sell it.)
The purpose of worry is to identity outcomes you would prefer not to happen so that you can then work to avoid. The problem is that its is our nature is to lock our eyes onto our fear. We can’t look away and then tend to hit what were “looking” at. In the practice of mindfulness, we learn how to acknowledge our fears without locking our attention onto them. Instead we use the information that our fear shows us we are concerned about and focus on where it is we want to go. Once the issues are identified there is no longer a need to focus on the worry… unless one likes to suffer.
“In racing, they say that your car goes where your eyes go. The driver who cannot tear his eyes away from the wall as he spins out of control will meet that wall; the driver who looks down the track as he feels his tires break free will regain control of his vehicle.” – Garth Stein – Racing in the Rain
How do you live for now? We work for that which no work is required.February 12, 2018 at 12:17 pm #192023
It could be that your anxiety and worries are caused by the fact that you are imagining the worst outcome – getting old in an incapacitated way, being alone and helpless, or dying in some kind of a slow protracted way. But since you don’t know the future, how about considering other possibilities? – maybe you’ll remain strong and firm and happy for years to come, up until the very end, and then, at an advanced age, die quite suddenly. It could happen also, couldn’t it? Does that possibility appeal to you more? Of course, you can’t guarantee anything, but anything is possible. And if you take care of yourself, the second option – while not guaranteed – is technically possible. You never know what happens in life.
Unless your deeper fear is the end as such. I sometimes have it, though I’m much younger, I’m not sure why. I like reading obituaries and watching morgue documentaries, even writing my will – it helps to put me at ease and more peace with the fact that we are ALL mortal creatures.February 13, 2018 at 9:35 am #192231
As someone much older than you, I am practicing letting go of things that I cannot control. Read the Serenity Prayer for that.
I know that is easy to say and hard to do. It’s a practice. You can spend your time and energy dwelling on the worst case scenarios of your life or you can focus your energy towards what feeds your joy, being in service to people and practicing gratitude.
If you find it impossible to even to attempt those things then it sounds like you can benefit from professional help.
I know that having a community, friends and family, a tribe of people who are positive and support you helps else I would dwelling too much in my head with such dark thoughts.
MarkFebruary 13, 2018 at 11:45 am #192273
How do you practice letting go, I have a real hard time with that and it drives me crazy.February 13, 2018 at 11:47 am #192275
and I know how you feel kittykat I feel it to some timesFebruary 13, 2018 at 1:39 pm #192303
How do you practice letting go? My advice… by approaching ‘letting go’ as a practice something you intentionally work on when you notice a opportunity. When you succeed be grateful and when you struggle and takes you longer then you might like, that’s good to, its practice. The intention of practice is to learn better and when you lean better add the new skill to the practice. Build up mussel and muscle memory as it were.
When you notice (mindful) that you are focused on thoughts/stories/memories about issues you cannot change and or that ‘project’ you into that past and or imagined future, and or fear. You intentionally create space to take a breath and acknowledge, without judging yourself, that you are directing your consciousness on on a story/thought/memory/fear that is keeping you from being in the moment. (you take responsibility without any judgment that might trigger negative self talk)
If you notice negative self talk take another breath and give yourself permission to set the internal dialog aside so that you might identify the issue that lies behind them as an observer. As a Observer you will likely notice that in most cases you have already dealt with the issue that your attention is directed on.
For example, the worry about getting old and not being able to do the things you hope for. In the space you created recognized that you have taken steps to exercise and eat healthy (and if not that you will). Notice there is nothing more you can do in the moment so you can let the story/thought/memory/fear go and direct your attention on more helpful thoughts… or no thoughts…
With practice “letting go” of unskillful/unhelpful thoughts will become second nature. You may still be bothered by moments of worry and such but you won’t let them take hold of you. You will become the master of your story instead of letting the ‘stories’ master you.