By Gillian Pietrowski
“There are more things likely to frighten us than there are to crush us; we suffer more often
in imagination than in reality,”
– Seneca, “Letters From a Stoic: On Groundless Fears”
When we are confronted with a tough situation, some quickly assume the worst is to come. We play out in our heads the most horrible outcomes, which can lead to an extreme amount of unease and distress before the situation has even unfolded. Usually, when we allow ourselves to focus on all the negative outcomes, it tends to take up most of our energy and time.
Rather than dwell on what is to come, we should look for other alternatives. If you must calculate in your head all of the awful possible outcomes, then you should also calculate the better outcomes as well. As long as you acknowledge that there are both kinds of scenarios, you can spend the time you are wasting not only on all the bad, but also the good ones.
In regards to Seneca’s quote, those who fabricate too much in their head end up creating bigger problems than are necessary. Of course, there are times when we cannot prevent our- selves from at least thinking of what bad outcomes could arise. This only becomes an issue when we cannot stop thinking about these bad outcomes in such a way that they frighten and eventually crush us.
When we start drawing an awful conclusion about the future, we lose all the time before anything is concluded. Rather than causing chaos in our heads, we should worry about such things when a problem is actually at hand instead of worrying about it in our imagination.