Most of us go through cycles of confidence and fear. In our periods of confidence, we feel that we are fundamentally OK, our bodies and our lives are basically intact, and things in our lives will turn out just fine. In our periods of fear and doubt, we tend to focus on the worst possible outcomes to everything going on in our lives:  thoughts that we may lose our jobs or that minor physical ailments signal a much worse underlying health problem. We may even the fear that death is just around the corner for us or for our loved ones when there is no rational reason to worry.  There are several reasons why these negative thought phases might occur.

Some of this can just be chalked up to being human. Unlike other living creatures, we have a great capacity for reflecting on past events and imagining future ones. This is both a blessing and a curse. Thinking about the future allows us to plan and achieve goals, look forward to our children growing up to be adults, and think about things like retirement and travel we might want to do in the future. Unfortunately, it also allows us to worry about what is going to happen, to remember bad things that have happened to us and to other people, and to project our fears onto future events that may or may not happen.

Most of this is in the normal realm of human experience and behavior, but if you start to feel that you are too stuck in fear and it is not balanced with normal optimism, there may be something wrong. Scary or traumatic life events can trigger us into a phase like this; so can changes in the chemistry of the brain. Often, these feelings can be relieved by talking out loud about our fears to a friend or family member, but if you do not get relief you might consider seeing a counselor. A counselor can help you come to terms with events in your life that may be triggering fear and can help you determine if you may have developed a biologically-based obsessive thinking disorder that requires treatment. Either way, there is a way out of the forest of emotional and psychological suffering.