The future may hold a lot of mystery, but it does not have to hold a lot of anxiety. When this comes up in therapy sessions, too often clients want to talk about the here and now, looking only for recent potential causes of worry.
I say the past is in play. In exploring a client’s past—their early memories, childhood experiences, relationship history, and so forth—we can usually uncover a great deal of pain that the client will agree to be a major source of the current issue, whatever it is.
What are your future worries? Hopefully, you do not have any. For those of us who may, and I know there are a ton of us out there, let’s look at some common worries. Finances/retirement, health, and the futures of our family/children seem to come up a lot in my work. I have come across a few people who claim to have no concerns about their future, but I must share that, sadly, this is not the norm.
“What if I don’t have enough money to retire? What if I think I am saving enough now but something catastrophic happens?” Concerns like this come up all the time; even I have worried about it. And, sure, I have felt off in my body and worried about the dreaded “c” word. Furthermore, any good parent wonders about his or her children’s futures with college, careers, and so forth.
But what happens when we go too far with our worries? Without even opening our mouths, our minds can play out angst-involving thoughts and scenarios, as we may keep it all inside. It does not have to be this way, though.
Bottom line, who are you talking with about these things? If you have a significant other, hopefully it is that person. Family, friends, a therapist, etc., can be wonderful options as well. It is amazing the resources we overlook or are scared to tap into, wondering if we’re imposing, whether someone thinks our question is silly, and so forth. Day after day, I see and hear from clients who believe they are alone in their struggles/worries, and they receive so much validation when they share with me or reach out to others and learn they are not alone and can get support. It is silly to suffer in silence.
The future can hold its mysteries. That’s OK. Truly, we do not have to know it all. Surprise can be a good thing as well, especially when we are prepared. We do not have to worry, but planning for the future can help. With regard to our finances, we can have savings accounts and other investments. Many clients access my services through an employee assistance program that their workplace offers. If you have these free services, the program may offer all kinds of wonderful support, including free investment meetings with a financial planner.
Going to the doctor for regular exams, as well as eating right and taking care of our bodies, helps us be physically healthy. Loving and being there to educate our children can help them too—not that they will choose to listen to everything we say. Remind yourself of your successes in planning for the future and taking care of yourself and your family. You probably are doing these things every day, yet may be too focused on the next thing instead of reinforcing and reflecting on all you have accomplished. Acknowledging these efforts can help with your outlook and positively impact anxiety levels.
© Copyright 2012 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Stuart A. Kaplowitz, MFT, therapist in Chino, California
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