It has been a tumultuous couple of weeks. Not only has there been a split in the country, there has also been a split in both the major political parties. Many people are feeling worried and anxious about an uncertain future, and you may be wondering if there is anything you can do about it?
The disaster narrative
The other day I went into the doctors, and the receptionist asked me, "Are you over it yet?" I innocently said, "Over what?" The conversation that followed was about how Brexit was going to be a complete disaster.
So is it going to be a complete disaster? As far as I can tell, the general opinion seems to be that no one is really sure what will happen, however there are likely to be some negative effects on our economy, and we may have a recession. Most other things will stay much the same.
People who have experienced a bereavement often talk about the feeling of dread they have about upcoming anniversaries, such as Christmas, Birthdays, and Wedding Anniversaries. Very often the actual day is not as bad as they expected. It tends to be more of mix.
So why does this happen?
It's because we have two basic brain systems which work together,
Worry is a creative process, where you imagine some negative future event.
Your Emotional Brain reacts to this as though it was actually happening, and helps to get your body ready to deal with the threat you are imagining. This is why when you worry you feel panicky, tense, irritable, or on edge.
When we worry we are usually doing something known as ruminating - this is where we chew a worry over and over. Often this involves the "what about" worry, where we try to imagine every possible eventuality. Very few of these "what about's" are likely to ever happen.
Our Emotional Brain reacts to worry as though they were real events happening right now - whatever you imagine, Emotional Brain reacts to it. The problem for your emotional system is that the event you are reacting to is unresolvable, because it isn't happening. In the case of Brexit, the actual effects will not be felt for weeks, or months, and some of them not for years. This is a very long time for you to be in a high state of alert.
Uncertainty is even more difficult for your Thinking and Emotional Brain to respond to. Thinking Brain can't resolve the problem because it doesn't know what the problem is. Emotional Brain gets set on high alert, but is unable to create any meaningful response.
Coping with uncertainty
There are several things which can help,
title image by stux