When "what if" runs your life

. 2 min read
The All Mental Health Team

What if I'm alone forever?
What if we could have tried harder, or just given it one more shot?
What if I was meant to be with them and I blew it?
What if everyone is talking about our relationship and how it failed?
What if there's something wrong with me, and I'll never have a healthy relationship?

After a breakup, we can spend hours having a kind of internal conversation with ourselves. The conversation is almost always about something bad that might happen.

We’ll see something or hear something or even just remember something, and it starts the what if spiral.

What if I never date again? Then, I'll be alone at every holiday. And everyone will be trying to set me up with people. And then I’ll have to spend all my time trying to deflect the conversation. And…You get the idea. All these what ifs are the tools of a worried mind.

But why? Why do we do spend so much of our time worrying?

Well, for people who struggle with anxiety, sometimes we think that worry is actually helping us. Do any of these thoughts sound familiar to you?

  1. If I worry, it means I care "Worrying about my failed relationship means I value love and intimacy."

  2. Worrying helps prepare me for when something bad happens "Worrying about running in to my ex means I'll know what I'll say if it happens."

  3. Worrying motivates me to do something about a problem "If I didn't worry about being alone I'd never make an effort."

  4. Worrying helps me feel better when the bad thing eventually happens "If I worry about being rejected, and then I am, it doesn't hurt as much."

  5. Worrying about something means it can't happen exactly like that. "If I worry about being alone forever, it won't happen."

Familiar? The thing is, most of the time, these just aren't true. When worry becomes excessive, and a part of your daily way of life, it's more likely it's harming you than helping you.

Some signs that your worry is hurtful, not helpful:

  • You worry about things that aren't immediate threats
  • You're more often anxious than relaxed
  • You have difficulty enjoying yourself because of how much you worry
  • Your worries get in the way of you living your life

If these feel familiar to you, you're not alone. 2 out of 5 people worry at least once a day. And excessive worry is one of the most common signs of anxiety. So, what can you do to change your worried ways?

Well, we've got a few ideas to get you started. Why don't you try out planning your worry sessions?

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