As humans, we are the only species on the planet that in any way can predict a future. While those predictions can only be based on assumptions from current events, we often complicate matters with our fear of uncertainty. We predict catastrophe through the use of “what if” questions and before we know it, a full disaster scenario is in front of us.
We can never safely predict the future and even the best laid plans never guarantee anything. However, we spend much of our time planning this and that which could, should, might happen. This is often done with rigid thinking and fear of the unknown which stops us enjoying the moment we have. We live in anxiety which is consolidated by confirmatory bias where our mind processes for evidence to prove what we believe to be true. The sad thing is that we then live in fear of something that may have little chance of ever happening. People who fear the future often have a profound fear of death and not achieving what they feel they should by the time it finally is their turn. At times, this can be crippling and even realism cannot help. I firmly believe that a fear of the future and death especially is a fear of life.
Where this comes from is evidently clear. We are often brought up by parents who have their own fear and subsequently parent with fear at the base of a dysfunctional parenting style. We are taught to fear the world and the people in it. We are taught to fear anything that could possibly happen to us and the consequences. We are taught not take risk and to cover every eventuality. Additionally, we are taught that we have to be virtually perfect and better than the rest to ensure we are at the top of the pile when disaster strikes. We are told we must have a career, money in the bank and the right relationship. In effect, we are taught to do, plan and predict but we are very seldom taught to ‘be’, enjoy what we are and have and look at the world with a sense of positive realism. It’s like wearing a heavy coat of protection that is difficult to take off.
It is a difficult process to take that coat off but the end result is less stress, less anxiety and more “in the moment” thinking. There are methods that can aid this.
Mindfulness Relaxation. Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment—and accepting it without judgment. Mindfulness is now being examined scientifically and has been found to be a key element in stress reduction and overall happiness.
Avoid Avoidance. Many of us try to avoid things that will bring up fear. The only way to beat fear is to face it. However, it is important to concentrate on the things we really can change or are in our power to change: Much fear is built up around global issues out of our control but be gentle with yourself and only face fear when you are ready.
Promote Positive Realism. Fear makes us remember and store negative experiences and this warns us about the future. Positive realism promotes a healthy attitude with manageable expectations. But there are two ways to be an realist: Unrealistic optimists believe good things will just happen—with less focus on their agency. While realistic optimists believe in their power to make good things happen, even through rough conditions.
Practice Positive Habits. Fear is habitual and promotes negative habits, leaving us anxious and depressed. Finding a purpose and more positive habits will allow us to see the world in a different light. Self-care is often neglected by people with fear and improving the basics such as eating correctly, healthy sleep, exercise and relaxation will help immediately.
Monitor Negative Thinking And Challenge. Much of the fear we face is instigated by negative thinking and listening to that becomes an easy escape. Monitoring these thoughts and challenging them with logic, followed by affirmative action will help.