People who suffer from anxiety tend to worry a lot, especially those who suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) which is a common type of anxiety involving excessive worry on an almost daily basis. It is generally accompanied by various physical symptoms such as fatigue, restlessness, and tension. Those with GAD often seem to believe that worrying can protect them from harm–as though their worry will help them see and avoid any number of potential calamities that may lie ahead.
Unfortunately, worry has a terrible cost/benefit ratio. In other words, worry costs a lot in terms of distress, tension, problems with concentration, disrupted sleep, and so on. But rarely have I known anyone who has successfully avoided much of anything from their incessant worrying. In fact, I’d venture to guess that over 95% of the things I’ve worried about over the years never happened. Furthermore, when occasionally one of my worries has come true, rarely has it felt as bad as I feared it would. And I’d have to say that I’ve been completely unable to predict the vast majority of negative events that have actually occurred in my life.
Let’s face it; humans are not particularly good prognosticators. It’s impossible to predict what will happen in life–whether good or bad. In our book Overcoming Anxiety For Dummies (2nd Edition) my wife, Laura Smith, Ph.D. and myself listed a few highly unusual, unpredictable events just to illustrate this point (that life has risks and no one can predict them reliably). Please note that we are not making fun of tragic, horrific events, but we hope you can see what we mean. Here’s a few of the items from our list:
If you worry too much, try to realize that life is unpredictable. Worrying costs you a lot and probably will never save you from much of anything significant. The more you can accept the idea that life has risks and can’t be predicted, the less anxiety will dominate your life.
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Prof.Lakshman (July 28, 2010)
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PsychCentral (July 28, 2010)
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Last reviewed: 27 Jul 2010