“Sometimes we assume the worst, because we fear to hope.” – The Witcher, Season 2
We fear to hope, because the unexpected dissappointment can be quite devastating. That’s the problem with positive thinking. We convince ourselves that all is well and WHAM!, reality force feeds us a shit sandwhich.
So instead, in a twisted effort to protect us from the pain of bad information, we ready ourselves by assuming bad things. It’s like we pre-injure ourselves, so that we don’t get hurt. This is called catastrophizing. It’s a distorted exaggeration of the negative and the more we do it, the more we tend to do it. Humans are so weird.
The problem is that our unconscious mind can’t emotionally distinguish between what is real and what we imagine. This causes real anxiety and damage.
In the book, How Full is Your Bucket, it starts with a short history of a North Korean POW camp which held about a thousand U.S. prisoners. The prisoners were given food and shelter and were not physically tortured. However, this camp had the highest death rate in U.S. military history.
Psychological warfare aimed at breaking the prisoners’ sense of hope. Some would walk into a corner, put a blanket over their head, and within two days, they died with no other medical explanation, but extreme negativity. Studies have shown that negative emotions reduce life expectancy by a larger number of years than smoking.
But, hope can also be a horrible form of torture, especially when it goes on for too long without a fortuitious result. The Russian poet, Anna Akhmatova once said, “Do you know what torture by hope is? After despair, calm sets in, but hope can drive you mad.”
I don’t like being held captive by hope. Well, I don’t like being held captive by anything. Likewise, I don’t like being tortured by negativity. So what then?
Is it about the glass being half full or half empty? Um … no. In fact this is the wrong way to think about it altogether. The glass is always completely full; half with water, half with air, both of which are necessary for life. Drink up and breathe.
Is it about “letting go”? Maybe; sort of. Aparigraha is one of the Yamas within the eight limbs of yoga. Basically, it is non-attachment. We tend to attach ourselves to a result or outcome, which can only exist in the future and until that future becomes now, it isn’t real. Only now is real.
But, we’re human, so good luck letting go of the outcome. We live in a societal construct in which we must succeed, level-up, and achieive more. We want to win! I want that job! I need that sale! I hope everything is okay, we say as we wring our hands. Worry keeps us occupied when we can’t affect the outcome. So does hope. But, I get it. When our hands are tied, what else is there?
So let’s talk about karma. Most people see karma as “a bitch”, like it’s a vengeful god waiting do deliver justice. This is not true at all. Karma simply means action. The actions we take in the now affect the then when it too becomes now. Even non-action is karma. It’s the action of doing nothing.
Don’t assume the worst. Don’t assume anything. The glass is always full, unattach from the outcome, and do in the now. Then will become now soon enough and we should really try to be there.
Photo by Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash