How to Stop Being Intimidated by the Future
The word for the first month of 2021 is vision. While we’ve already encountered a few setbacks with the start of the year, it’s important we keep our sights high as we continue to push forward to (hopefully) greener pastures. Thinking through the days, months even years on the horizon can be seriously intimidating though.
Have you ever been so stressed out about an upcoming event that you can’t even form a sentence? Of course you have—we’ve all been there. An interview, an intimidating conversation, a looming breakup—the future can feel like a never-ending black hole that we can very easily get hung up worrying about. And let’s be real, we’re never going to accurately predict what’s going to happen, and yet we waste hours away thinking through every possible scenario.
This hopeless feeling is usually a form of anticipatory anxiety and it often stems from a fear of rejection. Despite the fact that we’re all going to experience a lot of rejection in our lives, nobody likes the feeling (obviously).
So here we are. Staring at the ceiling at 2AM, imagining and reimagining the events to come, rejection weaving its way into every scenario. Now what? Well, for starters, don’t let your negative thoughts take control of your life. If you try too hard to avoid the sting of rejection, you’ll wind up living a safe, complacent life, dodging opportunities and rejections alike. As humans, we’re designed to move forward and look for new opportunities that make life more dynamic and worth living. By rejecting this instinctual drive, you’ll miss on so much of life and the variety of emotions worth feeling. And most importantly, you’ll feel regret—and some feel it far too late in the game of life.
The next time you find yourself hesitating to take a risk, walk yourself though some of these reminders.
Set it to scale
If you think about your existence compared to the size of the universe, everything gets a lot less important. And while that looming unknown, rejection, stressful situation might seem all encompassing to you in this moment, in reality you’re just a little speck on the earth for just a few brief moments in time, so does it really matter? Will your decisions alter the universe? No. So just do it. The world will continue to spin, you’ll probably move on to the next stressful thought by next week, and who knows, that risk might pay off every now and again.
You are your own worst enemy. Don’t fall victim to overthinking—it’s a doorway to self doubt and questioning your capabilities. During those yes or no moments, just say yes. Go on the trip, join the dinner, take the phone number. Don’t stew over it because you’ll just talk yourself out of a new experience that could change your world for the better.
Stop saying something was a “waste of time.” Try to change your perspective. In traffic, you might discover an awesome new song. Being rejected from a job might teach you a new interview tactic. The angles are endless. If you can adjust your mindset to be on the hunt for the things you could learn along the way, you won’t be so submerged in the negative.
The negative emotions you feel are exactly that—your emotions. Feeling sad, embarrassed, ashamed, stressed, etc., it’s your decision. Nobody is making you feel these things. Unlike a punch or a physical pain, emotions aren’t an external force being caused by someone/something else. You can choose to feel these emotions—you can also choose to not feel these emotions. Your call.
Stop the spotlight syndrome
News flash: we’re all self centered. And that’s a good thing. Because that means nobody actually cares what you’re doing. Everyone is so focused on not screwing up their own lives, that even your most humiliating mistakes are forgotten about when people go back to thinking about themselves 5 minutes later.
I’ll be the first to admit, the future is intimidating to think about. We all worry we won’t be where we want to be. Rather than focus on what needs to get done, I encourage you instead to be wholeheartedly in the present and take those risks. Remember, most of our last-minute, totally impulsive decisions are usually the ones we look back on most fondly (even if they turned out to be total train wrecks). Do everything with purpose and passion—you’ll be all the better for it.