On Anticipating the Worst

A poem by Erin Hansen always comes to mind when I or my clients are faced with the realization that we’re always anticipating the worst. Assuming we’ll get hurt, things won’t work out, or we’ll fail.

Here’s the poem:

“There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask “What if I fall?”
Oh but my darling,
What if you fly?”

-Erin Hansen

The inevitable question arises, “Why do I do that? Why do I always go straight to the negative, oblivious to the (more likely) possibility that everything will be ok?”

The answer may have roots in our distant ancestors, explored in evolutionary psychology. While fear and anxiety may have helped save us from being eaten by lions eons ago, today our overactive worry gets in the way of us seeing all the wonderful possibilities that are out there. We spend time worrying about things going wrong before they do, robbing us of peace and optimism in the present.

Regardless of the reason behind our negativity bias, our thoughts are incredibly powerful. What we focus on is more likely to manifest itself. So next time we find ourselves anticipating the worst, how about we agree to start wondering, “And what if it all works out?” Or if the poet in you needs his or her say, “But what if I fly?”

Try, and let’s watch the magic unfold!

See more of Erin Hansen’s work on her website: http://thepoeticunderground.com/

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