Brain & Behaviour Psychology

Completely Lost- In the Fear of Future

Written by Rabiyah

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

Let’s take a start with a short story. Many of us know that a lovely and colorful butterfly comes from an unappealing worm! Here is the story of a butterfly that was never able to live a life like a butterfly!

One day, a man saw a cocoon. He loved and he used to spend a lot of time around butterflies. He knew how a butterfly would struggle to transform from an ugly caterpillar into a beautiful one. Once, he decided to sit over and watch how the butterfly would come out of the cocoon. He was watching that the butterfly is struggling very hard to break the shell and come out for several hours. He spent almost more than 10 hours with the cocoon and the butterfly. Unfortunately, even after continuous attempts for several hours, there was no progress. The man, having passion and love for butterflies decided to help the butterfly. He got a pair of scissors and tweaked the cocoon to make larger opening for the butterfly and removed the remaining cocoon. The butterfly emerged without any struggle!

Unfortunately, the butterfly looked no longer beautiful and had a swollen body with small and withered wings. The man was happy that he made the butterfly come out of the cocoon without any more struggles and butterfly would soon be fine. But the butterfly could neither expand the wings nor its swollen body reduced. Unfortunately, the butterfly just crawled around with withered wings and huge body. It was never able to fly all through its life.

What the man, in his kindness and haste, did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle were required for the butterfly to be able to fly. The butterfly must push its way through the tiny opening to force the fluid from its body and wings. Only by struggling through the opening, can the butterfly’s wings be ready for flight once it emerges from the cocoon.

Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life.  If God allowed us to go through our life without any obstacles, it would cripple us. If we don’t want to undergo any struggle, we won’t be able to fly!  Struggles make us shine!

We are living in a society in which there are number of issues that can press all our buttons and make the youth feel that life would not be worth living with what’s all happening around. From visions of poverty, sickness, depression, anxiety, losing loved ones, being alone and last but not the least is unemployment, which is making the current youth to pass through a very difficult time in their life. The discomfort is not that they can’t pay their bills, they can’t buy a new iPad or the next whatever, or they are not able to fulfill the desire of branded clothing, big screen TVs, credit cards or any latest electronic gadget etc. But, what frightened them and made them psychologically sick is, “the loss of direction”. Few years back, when life was going well with education, everything seemed to be in order. The expectations were at a place that as soon as they would complete their education, the standard of life would take a turn. But, what actually happened is, that the security rug is pulled out from under them, now they feel unsteady and wobbly and can’t get their bearings.

Do you think they are going through a crisis? A big NO.

Yes, only if they themselves consider it a crises. Otherwise, the truth is, that they are experiencing a “Life Transformation”. These early phases of transformations affect them mentally and if not properly managed, can push them towards various mental disorders like anger, depression, and anxiety and more or less the fear of future. They struggle to rise above the anger over the expectations they didn’t realize, their disappointment for what has ended, and their fear of an unknown future. Even being educated, mature and sensible, one can’t even answer very basic questions like,

  1. Who am I? What purpose am I meant to fulfill?
  2. In which direction life is going on? Is it moving on or just stopped here?
  3. How to do things? How and where to take a start?

The result is somewhat identity disorders linked with hopelessness, lowered self-confidence, chronic worry, pessimism, negative self-talk, unrealistic expectations/perfectionism, rigid thinking, lack of flexibility, all-or-nothing attitude etc.

Signs and Symptoms of Stress and Anxiety associated with fear:

Cognitive Symptoms

·       Memory problems

·       Inability to concentrate

·       Poor judgment

·       Seeing only the negative

·       Anxious or racing thoughts

·       Constant worrying

 

Emotional Symptoms

·       Moodiness

·       Irritability or short temper

·       Agitation, inability to relax

·       Feeling overwhelmed

·       Sense of loneliness and isolation

·       Depression or general unhappiness

 

Physical Symptoms

·       Aches and pains

·       Diarrhea or constipation

·       Nausea, dizziness

·       Chest pain, rapid heartbeat

·       Loss of sex drive

·       Frequent colds

 

Behavioral Symptoms

·       Eating more or less

·       Sleeping too much or too little

·       Isolating yourself from others

·       Procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities

·       Using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax

·       Nervous habits (e.g. nail biting, pacing)

One can manage to look for positive thoughts and encouraging words, but sooner or later the calm situation slips away. Fear remains constant. One is always afraid of what’s next. You want to think positive, but the idea of “what’s next” is always approaching. For many people, like landlords, rich and wealthy people living a luxurious life, this would typically not a big deal but for others, it can be terrifying. Small things sooner or later become big things. It’s making the youth isolating and affecting their social life too. It becomes hard for them to deal with the overwhelming depression and hopelessness of each other. So, what to do then? Whether to give up or stand fast, start a struggle and become a butterfly with beautiful wings and ability to fly, or become a crawling caterpillar for the whole life? Choice is definitely yours.

Finding peace with Uncertainty:

Yes! Fear of uncertain future can stop us from doing great things and keep us in a hurting state. Why not to take a start of a new thing. The possibilities are limitless. Take a start to experience the joy of unknown.

Flow with the change:

When you don’t know what might come, then let flow with the change. Instead of reacting, respond with balance and calmness. The joy of knowing that all will be fine, and in the process you will have experienced something new and beautiful.

Accept realities of Life:

Yes, being in hopeless state of life or having a fear of future can be stressful to you, but avoid wallowing. Have faith that sooner you would be in next phase of life. Always look for silver lining. Maybe your current situation is giving you a chance to reflect on what you want out of life and rethink your career priorities. Maybe it made you stronger. If you look, you’re sure to find something of value.

Maintain your Morale:

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so
regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us”

Alexander Graham Bell

Don’t underestimate yourself or other people when you are facing such a situation. Start taking an action to control your situation- because you never know how and from where opportunity can arise. The outpouring of support from anybody can surprise you. Don’t try to shoulder the stress alone rather share what you are going on through with the people you love and trust. Avoid the tendency of becoming isolated just because you are feeling embarrassed or ashamed of asking help from someone. Keep your family in a loop and listen to their concerns. Maintain balance in life by making regular exercise, taking plenty of sleep and practicing relaxation techniques. The best thing is management of time. Because it is the best time to develop new skills, as you have lot of time to boost your confidence. Start a course or volunteer work. It’s an exceptional chance to re-evaluate what you really want out of life. You now have the time and space to think, plan and take step towards bright future.

If life is taking a turn, try to be more focused towards your goals. All you feel is just a fear. Try to get out of that fear as soon as possible. To place first step seems difficult, but once you managed to place that step firmly on a ladder, have faith you would be on the top of ladder soon.

References:

http://www.kent.ac.uk/careers/sk/copingWithRejection.htm

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wander-woman/201011/how-enjoy-the-fear-the-future

Leo Babuta, “Finding peace with Uncertainity”

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About the author

Rabiyah

I am Rabiyah from Islamabad. I have recently completed my Msc and M.phil in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology from Quaid I Azam University, Islamabad. Field of specialization in M.phil was Human Molecular Genetics. I always find a very keen interest in reading and writings like stories, articles, and columns on various social and emerging issues.