Seneca once said:
Fear keeps pace with hope. Nor does their so moving together surprise me; both belong to a mind in suspense, to a mind in a state of anxiety through looking into the future. Both are mainly due to projecting our thoughts far ahead of us instead of adapting ourselves to the present. Thus it is that foresight, the greatest blessing humanity has been given, is transformed into a curse. Wild animals run from dangers they actually see, and once they have escaped them worry no more. We however are tormented alike by what is past and what is to come. A number of our blessings do us harm, for memory brings back the agony of fear while foresight brings it on prematurely. No one confines his unhappiness to the present. (Letters to a Stoic, page 38)
It is easy to use foresight as a curse. I do this myself. When I hear the statement, “I need to talk to you,” or “do you have a minute?” I immediately think something bad is going to happen.
When the situation does unfold, I realize that it wasn’t all that bad. All that worrying and stress was created for no reason.
For something that was said around 60-65 A.D … Seneca knew what he was talking about. Let’s learn a thing or two from it.
The challenge is to remain in the present whenever your foresight comes into play. Stop yourself from projecting your thoughts so far into the future to the point where you become overwhelmed by anxiety, doubt, and fear.
Not only is this unhealthy for the mind, but it also influences your thoughts, actions, and the words you choose when that situation presents itself.
So how can we stay poised?
I have one solution:
Face the facts.
At this point, your emotions are irrelevant. Your emotions will cause you to exaggerate the situation to the point of no return. The more you focus on your emotions, the more you’ll worry. The more you worry, the more you blow the situation out of proportion.
Instead, face the facts.
So when a friend tells me “we need to talk,” instead of worrying about all the wrong things that might happen, I face the current facts of the relationship or situation. This allows me to prepare for what is to come, and to also realize a few things that alleviate my worrying. Is it possible that something comes up that you aren’t prepared for? Sure. That’s life.
The way I look at it is this: we can use our gift of foresight as a curse by allowing our emotions to devour us; or we can face the facts, prepare to the best of our ability, and relentlessly move forward while adapting.
What are your thoughts on this?