If you agree with 5 or more of the following statements, you are very likely to have this schema.
- 1I have a constant feeling of dread that something bad is going to happen.
- 2I tend to have a lot of 'What if...' thoughts.
- 3My predominant feelings are anxiety and tension.
- 4I feel that the world is a dangerous place.
- 5I often worry that I might have a panic attack.
- 6I sometimes think I might go crazy.
- 7My thoughts feel like they are running at 100 miles an hour.
- 8I worry that I have a terminal illness or that I am going to have a heart attack even though there is no evidence for this.
- 9I worry about the bad things that are happening in the world.
- 10I worry about losing all my money and ending up destitute.
How this schema affects our lives
Obviously this schema is the cause of a great deal of anxiety and stress. The brain's threat radar the 'amygdala' has become hyper-sensitive and sees potential danger everywhere, even if the probability of something happening is really low.
This schema is often at the heart of most of the anxiety disorders, Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Panic Disorder, Phobias, especially Agoraphobia (fear of open spaces).
OCD is also very common with this schema as we can end up performing rituals to ward off any potential harm
Because of the anxiety, we end up constantly looking for reassurance.
If our concerns are around health, we end up scouring the internet looking up symptoms, or constantly checking our body for signs of illness - which just makes our anxiety worse. We also might repeatedly ask other people what they think - hoping that what they say will make us feel less anxious.
We also end up restricting our life. We might be afraid to go out in case we have a panic attack - we might become phobic of certain situations such as flying or travelling to far away from home.
This schema can have a serious effect on our health due to the constant stress and lack of sleep that comes from not being able to control our thoughts.
Relationships can also suffer as we are never relaxed or fully present. It's difficult to have fun when we are so worried about things.
We can also end up putting a lot of responsibility on our partners - relying on them to make us feel safe and secure.
Chronic anxiety over time can lead to depression as our stress system collapses due to over-stimulation.
So we can end up lethargic, unmotivated, and not wanting to engage with the world.
Sometimes we can end up living a very isolated life - afraid to go anywhere or experience anything.
Where it comes from.
This schema - unlike most others - does not come from abuse or neglect. It tends to come from growing up with parents who were very fearful themselves and over-protective.
They would have probably hovered over you telling you to be careful all the time. You would have grown up in an environment that seemed 'dangerous' because of the tension and worry that was around you. Your amygdala would have been on constant alert and so would have become over-sensitive and hyper-reactive.
If one of your parents was constantly worrying, and talking about all the terrible things that can happen in life -those thoughts would have become wired into your brain as the 'truth' .
So you have ended up with a brain that thinks it is living in a very dangerous world and it's doing its best to keep you alive.