What’s so weird about dreading things that might happen is that you have usually already figured out what you’re going to do if it does. In which case, your role in the whole situation is kind of over.
Why the anxiety? Do you doubt your ability to stick with your own plan? Ok, so focus on that. Do you think the universe registers your fears and then takes them under consideration? No, obviously not. So you want to feel miserable for fun then?
Written by Ryan Holiday
Ryan Holiday is the bestselling author of Trust Me, I’m Lying, The Obstacle Is The Way, Ego Is The Enemy, and other books about marketing, culture, and the human condition. His work has been translated into thirty languages and has appeared everywhere from the Columbia Journalism Review to Fast Company. His company, Brass Check, has advised companies such as Google, TASER, and Complex, as well as Grammy Award winning musicians and some of the biggest authors in the world. He lives in Austin, Texas.
I think one of Seneca’s maxims would serve you well here. It is something to the effect that anxiety about the future is really dissatisfaction with our failure to fully utilize the present. Like you say, dread doesn’t help prepare you against catastrophe. But I think that resigning yourself to a back up plan might be a second best option. If possible, use the time you have to actively address the problem. That tends to be the best way to dispel dread and secure success to boot.
Your point about fear/dread is right on the money though.
Thanks for writing again, I greatly enjoy your posts.
Alex, what are you talking about?
Maybe I misinterpreted what you wrote.
When you said “your role in the whole situation is kind of over…Why the anxiety? Do you doubt your ability to stick with your own plan? Ok, so focus on that.” It seemed to me like you were saying two things.
Thing one: dread doesn’t do you any good.
Thing two: your fate will be what it will be if you already know what you are going to do.
I was trying to say that Thing two seems a bit fatalistic. The energy people put into dread might be better spent on doing things to prevent whatever it is they are dreading rather than simply hoping that their plan for dealing with it will work.
Does that make sense or am I totally off base here?
I actually giggled when I read this. I don’t have the answers to your questions – but your predicament is very… err… human and I think everyone who reads it will empathize.
I agree with Alex.
This reminds me of the “what you fear most has already happened” cliche. It’s good to always have a “Plan B,” but sometimes it’s hard to image or create that new plan when you are full of dread and anxiety. 🙁 Most doubt is self created, hence the popular term “self doubt.”