Your husband has cancer. You have a scenario or two in your head that you pray to God never happens. You know the one, the worst case scenario. Maybe the doctor gives you and your husband some possible outcomes for how the treatment might go as well as what all the risks are and how it could all go wrong. Or, as you are deciding treatments, the list of possible side effects are listed and in the worst case, your husband will feel all the worst ones.
Thinking about the worst case scares the crap out of us!
So we avoid it or distract ourselves when the “what ifs…” enter our mind. This doesn’t really help at all. Our fears are like a big dark blob in a closet we don’t want to open. We know it’s there and we continually feel anxious and fearful of the blob. It keeps us awake at night. Our mind keeps wandering back to it, no matter how much we try to push it out of our mind and focus on the positive.
Kept Me Up At Night
During my husband’s battle with cancer, the worst case changed from time to time. I never consciously thought about it, but it was always there as a threat in my mind. It would wake me up at 3 AM when it’s never a good time to have dark thoughts! My husband and I never talked about it. I think this was more his choice. We both had our own fears about his cancer. Their constant presence in the back of our minds wore us down emotionally and physically.
Avoiding It Doesn’t Work
Most of us never think about these scenarios. We push them to the back of our minds and just hope that we don’t have to deal with it. That is not how the brain works unfortunately. Our brain will think about these things… over and over again. Our brain likes to focus on the threats and problems in our life. So when we don’t deal openly with our fears, we will instead wake up in the middle of the night thinking of all the “what ifs…” over and over again. This constant anxiety adds a tremendous amount of stress to your already stressful life. Of course the lack of sleep will not help you cope any better the next day.
The Big Blob In The Closet
Imagine that closet, room or area of your house that you know is a mess and you really need to clean out, but it just seems too big and too overwhelming. So instead you keep the door closed and try to not look in there. You haven’t opened the door in so long you don’t even know what’s there, you just know you don’t want to deal with it.
It’s like a big dark blob.
It’s too much.
When you finally get the courage, you open the closet and start taking things out. You take it all out into the light and have a look. Now you can see what is really there. It still might seem like a lot, but it’s not so scary because the big dark blob is actually made up of just stuff.
Defining The Blob
Your worst case scenario is like the big dark blob in the closet. It will be scary and keep you up at night until you take it out into the light and look at it.
Just looking at our fears and naming them can be a really scary part. It seems so much easier to just not think about them. But as long as that blob of stuff stays in the closet, it will feel scarry and overwhelming. It’s only scary because the blob isn’t defined, so your brain will make it so much worse than it really is.
Once you identify your fears, the worst case that you are afraid of, you give shape to that blob. Now you know what it is, how big it is, what it’s made up of. Just giving voice to your fear and identifying it alone can be so helpful. Now at least you have something to look at, not a scary, undefined thing in a closet!
Our Worst Fears Are Just Thoughts We Are Afraid To Think
When we take a look at our fears, the worst ones, they are actually just made up of possible scenarios and our thoughts about those possible scenarios. So at their core, our fears are just thoughts we are afraid to think. It is not the actual scenario itself, it’s our thinking about it. It is these thoughts that cause the anxiety and stress we feel.
|Possible Scenario||Worst fear (our thoughts about the scenario)|
|The treatment stops working||He might not make it|
|My husband gets worse||I won’t be able to take care of him|
|Insurance won’t cover what he needs||We will go broke|
|The cancer comes back||We won’t have any more options|
Once you see that your fears are just thoughts, it will take some of the scarryness away.
Take A Good Look And Ask Good Questions
You then need to examine the thoughts for what they are. Take a look at them, pick them apart, start questioning them. How do you feel when you think about these thoughts? Ask yourself how they might not be true.
If your fear were to come true, what support do you have that you know you could rely on? In what ways are you already strong enough to handle it?
By asking good questions (see my related post about what a good question is) and truly looking at your fears, you will slowly take their power away.
This is a process. It won’t just happen in a minute. These are deep seated thoughts and won’t easily go away, but the process of taking them out of the dark closet in your mind and shining a light on them is the first step in loosening their power over you.
Remember, you are stronger than you realize!
I have a process I take my clients’ thought that helps them identify their worst fear and start making peace with it. They start building confidence to know they have the skills to handle the worst case scenario. Not just handle it, but decide in advance, who they want to be and how they want to show up for themselves and their husband if the worst happens.
Imagine your life if you take just one action today to take control of your mental health. If you do nothing, then nothing will change. Take just one step to get back in control of your life again by scheduling a free consult. This one phone call could be the pivotal moment in your life.