Our emotions are exceptionally helpful when it comes to signposting the way. The reason for this is that they provide clues on what we’re thinking and believing about ourselves and about others, and about situations or circumstances.

It’s not a reductionist view of experiencing more of these emotions, the ones you’ve decided are good, whatever good means and to avoid emotions that are uncomfortable or deemed bad because all emotions are valid.

Emotions provide us with insight into what we have made something mean.

That’s why it’s not as simple as that feels uncomfortable. Therefore, I’m going to avoid doing that thing. Because sometimes that thing is exactly the thing that would benefit you most.

There are some emotions, where the attention we give them really does matter.

Attention in these areas are what breakthroughs and quantum life shifts are made of. One of these emotions is the emotion known as dread.

What is dread?

The Oxford languages define dread as when we anticipate something with great apprehension or fear. Generally, as humans, we are hardwired to avoid pain and anxiety. If we anticipate something coming up that we believe will be uncomfortable, we may begin to run scenarios in our mind. This is a survival mechanism. Run the scenarios, anticipate the outcome, decide ahead of time how we will act on each scenario. It is what has kept us alive.

Our mind sees everything as reality

But here’s the flip side of running those scenarios. Our mind can’t differentiate between what is real and happening right now, and what we imagine may happen in the future. Regardless if we are responding to today, or a possible tomorrow, physiological responses will occur in our bodies and we’ll react to those physiological responses.

We feel based on what our body is telling us, and what we decide that biofeedback means. Researchers have found that anticipating something painful, can actually be more painful than the painful thing. This is due to the relative weight of importance and duration.

The longer we think about something, and the more intensely we think about something, particularly if we associate that thought with an emotion, the more important it becomes to us.

Researchers have found that the anticipation of it becomes more painful than the thing itself.

Interestingly, when researchers reviewed our anticipation of the painful thing, versus actually having that painful thing occur; they found most of us would much rather get that painful thing over and done with rather than having it loom over us. Neuroscientist, Lisa Feldman Barrett, provides some great insights on moving through dread.

Dread may be a way of your body telling you something needs attention

Her research links our emotions to physical sensations in our body, as well as the meanings we make. So this means that you may have that sense of dread when you wake up on a Monday morning, because of a poor night’s sleep, being dehydrated, or having low blood sugar. She says it’s because your brain is trying to find an explanation for a particular sensation in your body that those emotions occur.

Ask yourself this question if you wake with dread

The first question Lisa Feldman Barrett, suggest you ask yourself, is could this feeling have a purely physical cause? If the answer is yes, take care of your body. Drink some water, take a few deep belly breaths, a gentle stretch or a light breakfast. If the answer is that it’s not related to a physical sensation, spend some time getting really clear on the cause of that emotion.

Understanding what thoughts have led to your dread?

  • What are you expecting to happen?
  • How do you know that will happen?

Remember, you are constantly learning, evolving and adapting.

You’re a very different person to the person you were yesterday, you’ve had a whole additional day to collect data, make meanings from that data; and a whole night to process what those meanings might mean and how best to categorise them.

Just because you chose to respond to a particular circumstance in a particular way yesterday; it doesn’t mean you’ll respond in that exact same way tomorrow.

Sometimes it’s time for A change

Is there an emerging theme to the cause of your dread? Is it a signal for change? Whether that change is an internal adaptation or a life changing decision.

Dread, if left undiagnosed, has the capacity to eat away at your joy. But it is also one of those feelings that can be the trigger that opens up a world of possibility. It doesn’t need to be your constant companion. It may be a harbouring of a change or simply a signal to pay attention to your healthy routines.