Common steps and sub-activities
Stop anticipating [hope]
Some people spend their wholes lives worrying and worrying and worrying – about what might happen. Not what will happen, but what might happen. And as we all know anything could happen in reality, anything.
They do not plan, by looking at the likely events in the future and working out how to deal with them; this is good practise because it ensures we are prepared for something and have a course of action in place to deal with it. This gives us peace of mind.
No, the worrier thinks of every likely scenario and whittles over it. And there is no plan to deal with it, it is just fear and inactivity combined.
What if the sun doesn’t shine tomorrow, what if I have an accident in the car, what if my dog hurts himself, what if my partner leaves me, what if, what if, what if.
Women are worse at this than men, but men are not immune to it. The cool rational calm men who only plan and never anticipate something that might in a blue moon happen, find these people intolerable, more annoying than a slap in the face with a wet fish.
What if my partner doesn’t love me, what if he leaves me for another woman? And of course he does, because he can’t stand it anymore.
What we are doing when we anticipate in this way is we imagine and invent Threats. Which if you put it this way should sound completely barmy. Hence our aim with this technique is to suppress the threat.
Thus these thoughts are invented threats that have somehow or other been conceived by our overwrought mind.
A whittler is never able to have any form of spiritual experience [except perhaps by the sheer overload of terror they have provoked in themselves] because they are never at peace. Their mind churns round and round and round on these hypothetical problems.
So this technique is geared to helping those in this category and it might help those who aren’t, but just occasionally find themselves saying, ‘I wonder what would happen if…….’
In most religions this technique is classified as ‘Hope’, but again ‘hope’ is a bit meaningless these days, the word no longer conveys its original meaning – the sense of peace that can result from simply taking things as they come, with a bit of forward planning for the future known events.
It makes sense to plan for old age, it makes sense to plan for retirement, it makes sense to plan for the day when you are on your own – because we probably will be one day – even if it is only the death of our partner. But it doesn’t make sense to say ‘OH MY GOD what happens if the empire state building falls on my house tomorrow’.
So, how to stop anticipating the improbable?.
- Whenever you find yourself worrying about something that might happen, you have to stop yourself and say ‘this is pure supposition’, be stern with yourself, speak to yourself in a stuff commanding voice, say ‘you are inventing the future and it will probably NEVER happen’.
- Next, if you are still unconvinced, say to yourself ‘OK if you’re not convinced, what likelihood is there that this will happen – tell me the probability it will happen’. If you firmly believe it may happen, and the probability to your poor silly frightened self seems high then say to yourself ‘so, what are you going to do about it?
- ‘I don’t know’ is not an acceptable answer to this question. So you either need to sit down and work out what you will do or again if there is nothing you can do say in your most commanding and reassuring voice, ‘if there is nothing you can do about it, why are you worrying. If it happens it happens, if it doesn’t then good.
- The final step if all of this fails is to fabricate in your mind a positive outcome. Visualise something good coming from what you perceive is the bad. Use your imagination, conjure up a glorious and wonderful ending to the whole sorry saga, fantasise – really go to town. This is what some people now mean by hope and it is a useful ability. It is a very special form of ‘simulation’. It is function dependency invented as we go along with all the options, but invented to provide positive outcomes, It is both a creative act – in that we have created a future we cannot possibly know, but also an act of simulation – reasoning based on a predictive model we have invented from pure optimism.
There is a sort of danger in the last step. If we really get good at this bit we live in a sort of cloud cuckoo land of unreality. But even this is better than the despair brought on by pointless anticipation of things that will probably never happen.
Henri Bergson – Time and Free Will
What makes hope such an intense pleasure is the fact that the future which we dispose of to our liking, appears to us at the same time under a multitude of forms, equally attractive and equally possible.
Even if the most coveted of these becomes realised, it will be necessary to give up the others, and we shall have lost a great deal.
The idea of the future, pregnant with an infinity of possibilities is thus more fruitful than the future itself; and this is why we find more charm in hope than in possession, in dreams than in reality.
John Boyle O'Reilly – from Songs, Legends and Ballads
Only from day to day
The life of a wise man runs;
What matter if seasons far away
Have gloom or have double suns?
To climb the unreal path
We stray from the roadway here;
We swim the rivers of wrath;
And tunnel the hills of fear
Our feet on the torrent's brink
Our eyes on the cloud afar
We fear the things we think
Instead of the things that are
Like a tide our work should rise
Each later wave the best
Today is a king in disguise
Today is the special test
Like a sawyer's work is life
The present makes the flaw
And the only field for strife
Is the inch before the saw
For iPad/iPhone users: tap letter twice to get list of items.
- Epictetus - The Enchiridion - 14
- Krishnamurti - The Network of Thought - Fear
- Ouspensky, P D - The Fourth Way - Negative imagination
- Plotinus - The Enneads - As for violent personal sufferings
- Plotinus - The Enneads - Do not base your peace of mind on the fortunes, good or bad, of any other men
- Shakespeare, William - Hamlet Act 2, Scene 2
- Tarot - 05 Minor Arcana - 05s Adversity [purification]
- Tarot - 06 Minor Arcana - 04s Power and Desire [Intellect]