Tip #117: See the uncertainty of the future as a blessing in a very terrible disguise.
The Why: I must admit, even when writing the title of this particular tip, I was uncertain that it was truly possible.
Get it? No? Anyway…
You see, the future is commonly thought as the anxious persons absolute worst nightmare.
So many of our worries, or as I like to call them, the ever-growing-ever-whirling-vortex-of-fear-and-panic-inside-my brain-ies, are based on the possibilities of the future.
The many ‘what-ifs’ that the world has to offer.
You may ask yourself questions like: “what if this terrible thing happens? What if that terrible thing happens? What if both of those terrible things happen at once? What if both of those terrible things happen at once and I’m somehow also naked and in public?”
Because the future has so many unknowns, there is so much more to worry about. So much potential for everything to go wrong.
That’s how I used to think too. In fact, thinking about the future used to be enough to turn me into a personification of the infamous scream painting.
Well, not anymore dear reader! (well, to a lesser degree.)
But how did I do it?
By seeing uncertainty as a good thing.
It started when I was pretending to be smart and decided to read Steven Hawking’s “A Brief History of Time.” In this amazing book, he describes Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle.
In the simplest way I can possibly describe it, the Uncertainty Principle states that the more you find out about the position of a particle, the less you know about its momentum and vice versa. This means that there is a limit to what we can actually know about a particle’s behaviour, and that we cannot always predict its movements.
Basically, particles act in a very strange way indeed.
For the physicist who attempts to locate a particle, and work out how fast its going, this is going to cause a lot of frustration. The more they try to learn about the particle, the more uncertain its properties become. It’s probably as frustrating as someone firing a bouncy ball covered in butter at 100mph at a wall and then them asking you to try to catch it.
“But why on earth (or anywhere really) are you talking about particles and quantum physics?” I hear you ask.
Well, in my view, this is in fact a very good analogy for us trying to decipher the future, as well as being quite interesting.
The more we try to picture and predict the future, with all its uncertainty, the more frustrated and anxious we become, and the further away we are from the truth.
Instead, we should focus on what we do know and what we can know.
For instance, what we do know is that we are here on this earth right now. A blessing that should not be underestimated.
So, what we can know is how we’re going to act in this very moment. Are we going to worry away our present thinking of a possible future we cannot possibly predict, or, are we going to actually be in this moment and gosh darn try to enjoy it?
I have spent so much of my time whilst out with friends, with family, with a good book in my hands, thinking about what’s coming next. Always planning, always panicking, always looking for the next step.
So much so that I forgot to actually focus on what’s happening in my life right now. My mind was always stuck in a future that I didn’t even know would happen, and that meant that I couldn’t actually make the most of the time I was spending with people who were right in front of me.
I couldn’t enjoy my victories without thinking about the next thing I had to do.
I think it’s time we actually started being in the moment and seeing the good we have in our lives right now, because by the time the future actually rolls around, that good may not still be here.
But what can we do to be more in the moment?
We can make uncertainty our best friend.
You see, when you have anxiety, you have a tendency to make the future possibilities as absolutely terrifying as the human imagination allows. So, this means that any time we think of what’s going to happen, we have very negative connotations. To the point where the mere mention of the future can induce a panic attack.
We need to rebuild these associations in our brain, and make them positive ones.
So, anytime you catch yourself thinking about a damning future where everything’s on fire and you’re alone, so very alone, make sure you picture a future where everything isn’t on fire and you’re surrounded by love immediately after.
Enforce positive visions of the future on your brain to provide a counter-weight to all the negativity. Perhaps even try visualisation.
Furthermore, know that the future doesn’t have to be a scary place. In fact, it’s the uncertain nature of the future that makes it so amazing!
Nothing is set in stone yet so you can make the future what you want. It’s firmly in your hands. You are in control of it.
This is an incredibly positive thing. Because the future is uncertain, you can influence it to be amazing. You decide your own path.
Now, none of this is to say that planning for the future isn’t important. Living with such a short view of life can lead to some very destructive behaviors. My advice is simply that when thinking and planning for the future, you’re planning for a positive one, not a future that fills you with dread.
Yes, open that savings account. Yes, exercise and eat healthily. Yes, do meditation. Yes, make goals and have dreams.
But don’t do these things out of fear, do these things out of love for future you.
So, to break it down for you:
- Learn to live in the moment
- Rebuild positive associations with the future
- See the potential of the future as an amazing and exciting thing
- Plan positively
The future isn’t guaranteed, the present is, so don’t take it for granted.