A few months ago, I heard an interview with Jonathan Fields in which he said the following:
“Fear is an anticipatory emotion. Once you’re in the moment and you have the ability to actually respond to what’s in front of you, fear becomes nearly impossible to sustain.”
This is such a simple yet profound statement. Fear is an anticipatory emotion. In other words, it’s virtually impossible to feel fear except in reference to what we think will or might happen at some future time. The day I listened to this interview, I was sitting outside on a lovely fall evening and I found myself wondering: how many beautiful, otherwise wonderful days have I ruined by worrying about what might happen? How often, rather than dealing with a problem the one time when it’s actually happening, have I made myself miserable for hours and days and even weeks beforehand, ruminating over a problem that’s yet to be? How often have I spent my time miserably trying to figure out how to keep from feeling future pain, while inflicting actual pain on myself with thoughts of fear regarding the future? Interestingly, my worry has yet to result in a problem-free existence and when the things I fear actually do come to pass they’re rarely as bad as what I anticipated them to be. It seems there is a power that comes during a crisis that’s impossible to receive before a crisis because, as Fields mentioned, it’s only then that we have the ability to respond to what’s actually happening. How much self-inflicted misery could I avoid, if I simply dealt with life as it is, rather than worrying about what it might be?
“Worry is a misuse of the imagination”
– Dan Zadra