Emotions dictate everything about our reality.
For example, sorrow about a past injustice is all consuming.
Or, the moment we’re told that the cancer is in remission. The attendant joy permeates from head to toe. After which we exhale as if letting go of the tension of months, and maybe years, of waiting for this day.
These are two examples that are largely about the past and present.
We also have a keen ability to predict our future. That’s anxiety’s job.
Anxiety is how we feel our future self
How we guess at what that future self might feel.
For example, after the diagnosis we may once again have hope. Hope is a warm blanket wrapped around us like a transparent bear hug. Hope motivates us to do things we might otherwise not pursue. Simply because we now believe we have a future so we best get to work making sure that we accomplish something with that gift.
After the diagnosis, and before the remission, perhaps we felt despair. A suffocating, seeming lack of control. An imminent ending. Feeling cheated, deprived, and sad.
So, when we feel our future we may feel good or bad about it. And, what we focus on can change how we feel overall. We can focus on the good, or the bad, or both. And that will manifest respectively in overall happiness, sadness or blasé ennui.
But, anxiety and all related emotions that attempt to feel our future are merely predictions. And that means we need to remember that they’re often wrong. In fact, anxiety is WRONG all the time. It just has to be right occasionally for it to be valuable.
And that’s because anxiety is safe, not sorry. Just like all emotions. You can recover from a false positive but not as often from a false negative. Consider walking along a cliff. If you’re right on the edge and you trip you are going over. One mistake is all it takes. If however, you walk ten feet away from the edge, or even better yet one hundred feet from the edge, you can trip all day long and be fine.
Emotions keep you one hundred feet from the edge. And that’s because they trip up all day long.
And it’s not just the predictive emotions that seek to feel the future. Even the emotions that summarize the past and present are wrong wrong wrong all the time…
You should never be ashamed to readily admit that your emotions are wrong, all the time! Because that helps you be skeptical.
So be skeptical of anxiety, that’s a highly productive way to deal with anxiety that’s running amuck.
If you don’t feel compelled by my rationale, reflect upon the past week and write down the times you were anxious and what it was about. Then, write down which times the anxiety was merited versus just playing it safe. Most of the time anxiety is merely playing it safe. The fears never materialize.
Knowing that, how now do you feel about your future?!