Fear of the Future
Foreboding is basically fear of the future. It is a feeling that something bad is going to happen. There are some expressions that you most likely have heard before related to this feeling. “Waiting for the other shoe to drop” is one of them. This expression implies that someone is waiting for something to happen. I personally have never heard someone use this expression to imply something positive is going to happen, only negative events. It is infered that the event is inevitable, meaning it is definitely going to happen but the exact timing is not known. Another expression that comes to mind is “Walking on eggshells.” What does this mean? To be delicate and tread lightly out of fear of causing a negative event or angering someone. How about not wanting to “rock the boat,” meaning not wanting to cause some type of upset or negative situation. All of these expressions are fear filled; fear of inevitable future events, fear of upsetting or angering someone, fear of being the cause of a problem.
People who have experienced trauma often do have reason to fear the future, to walk on egg shells and avoid rocking the boat. If you have experienced trauma, especially long term, you may have noticed that anticipating negative events and trying to avoid them or minimize negative effects becomes a way of life. Foreboding becomes a coping skill by anticipating the worst to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally before the event occurs, in order to protect yourself the best you can.
Obstacles to Healing
The problem with foreboding occurs when the trauma is over and healing needs to occur. Foreboding is based on feelings. Feelings shape our thoughts and beliefs. When feelings, thoughts and beliefs are fear filled and focused on the future it steals our joy in the present. This in itself is damaging, but there is more. A large part of healing is focused on changes in thoughts, beliefs, and behavior. Foreboding and fear of the future do not lead to changes in thoughts, beliefs and behaviors. Instead, it actually keeps us stuck in negative thought patterns and old behaviors that are counterproductive to healing. Growth is inhibited and internal chaos and hypervigelence continue when they may not need to.
The first tip to limiting or ending foreboding is to pay attention to your thoughts. Really analyze them. Think about the event that occured that led to the foreboding. Ask yourself if your perceptions and beliefs are possibly incorrect when you start to forebode and brainstorm some other possible outcomes. Assess whether or not your beliefs are tied to something in your past. This is actually known as the ABC method from a type of therapy called Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy. It is an amazing way to analyze events in your life and resulting thoughts, beliefs and emotional responses. It helps to connect your current thoughts and behaviors to your past so you can move forward by creating new patterns of thoughts, beliefs and behaviors. This process was so healing for me. There are many times that I was foreboding and my beliefs were based on incorrect perceptions and assumptions. I was filled with fear of situations that never occurred. I would remain anxious for periods of time but the negative events I was expecting never happened. I tend to review my thoughts very quickly, and try to be rational and calm without letting emotions control my beliefs and behaviors. I use scripture a lot and prayer to focus on truth, not fears and negative emotions.
The second tip is to communicate fears, beliefs and expectations as long as it is safe and appropriate to do so. This has helped me so much. A spouse or significant other, therapist, trusted friend, parent, mentor or anyone who is loving and truthful with you would be a great person to start with. Often, we keep our beliefs within our mind and do not speak them out loud due to fear or shame. If you speak up you may find that your beliefs were wrong which can stop foreboding and promote healing. Without speaking up the fear can continue in your mind and cause a lot of racing thoughts, ruminating, fear, shame, and avoidance. I learned to be more direct and express myself over the years. It is a continuous process, and it can take awhile to feel comfortable.
Foreboding and Relationship with God
My relationship with God was hindered (and still is sometimes) due to foreboding. I had difficulties trusting God with my future and anticipated “trials” or unrealistic terrible situations that involved God basically manipulating me. This is a very distorted view of God; I believed that God was a “puppet master” creating difficult situations that I’d need to overcome. It took years of struggle and prayer to figure this out. I did not want to think of God negatively but due to my past I had incorrect beliefs about God and people that I needed to correct. I realized after ten years of being a Christian that I was experiencing a trauma response. I loved God and read my Bible daily but it did not erase this belief because I was totally unaware of the root of the problem being my past experiences. Once I was able to understand this, I was able to work to change it through the ABC method, prayer, body work, and reading the Bible. I saw a lot of change in my perception of God, others, and my circumstances since realizing this, and began to look at suffering or the possibility of suffering much differently.
I share this to encourage everyone that reads this that even Christians have negative thoughts towards God and their circumstances at times. Before I was a Christian I did not believe this. I thought everyone in church had it more together than me, understood God better than me, and lived in perfect peace. I had no idea how false this was until I learned to understand God’s word (the Bible) and investigated how experiences shaped my thoughts and beliefs about God, others, and my environment. My feelings and fears do not control me anymore, and it’s possible for you to have the same freedom! If you’re interested in sharing your story or learning more please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
#PTSD #trauma #secondarytrauma #panic #relivingmypast #letgoofmypast #emotionalhealing