Overcoming the Fear of Doom

“Part of me is always waiting for disaster to strike. Some terrible loss will change my life, and it only gets worse as things get better for me. Maybe that’s the permanent result of my parent’s divorce…. always waiting for the other shoe to drop.”1

The fear of doom is the fear that something bad is going to happen. The problem is, most of the time, it’s unwarranted.

It’s common among adults with divorced parents. This is often due to the unexpected and unwelcome changes that occur around the divorce.

  • Suddenly our parents live in separate places
  • Suddenly there are new people living in our house
  • Suddenly the people that were living in our house are gone
  • Suddenly it’s unsure if we can participate in our favorite sport or activity due to visitation restrictions.
  • Suddenly there’s no money for college.

A distorted life perspective

Each small and big event builds the case for, “things may be ok now, but it’s going to end—and with little or no notice.”

This distorted thought process takes root in childhood and life reinforces it.

  • A best friend has to move unexpectedly.
  • Your position at work is suddenly eliminated.
  • Unplanned house repairs land right before a longed-for vacation.

Things are ok now, but it’s going to end—and with little or no notice.”

Fear of doom thwarts our ability to enjoy the good things that happen.

And as things get better, our fear of doom goes up because we have more to lose. So we live life in middle: never too high, never too low.

We also rarely relax and often become control freaks. We think if we can control things and people, we can stop bad things from happening.

The loss of hope

One of the greatest things we lose is hope. Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10b), but our fear of doom can squash our hope.

  • hope for sustained success
  • hope for a lasting marriage
  • hope for joy without fear of losing it.
  • hope for peace of mind

It can be very subtle so many of us don’t realize how our thought process has changed.

Overcoming the fear of doom

1) Identify if you have it

When I teach on this topic, I see light bulbs go off as people (or their spouses) connect the dots to why they always hold back from truly enjoying the moment or celebrating a victory. Examine your thoughts to see if this applies to you.

2) Focus on embracing today.

The Bible says,

“This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24. Jesus said, “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

Matthew 6:34

Something troubling may have occurred in the past, but it doesn’t mean it will happen again today.

3) Take small steps toward releasing your fear.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:6-7 NLT

On a scale of 1-10 if your anticipation for your vacation is a 4 when everyone else in your house is a 9.5, focus on an event within the vacation and tell someone you are really looking forward to it. When the doubts come, do Philippians 4:6-7.

Jesus offers us an abundant life in Him. Choose to overcome your fear and accept the joys and blessings He has for you today to the fullest extent.

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  1. Judith Wallerstein, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce, (NY, NY: Hyperion, 2000)