Worst case scenario thinking… is it worth it? The theory is simple; imagine the worst thing that can happen and then try to imagine what you’ll do when it happens. In most people’s cases though, it just leads to an inner state of unrest and anxiety.
The entire insurance industry is based on such an approach. They say, “If your worst case happens, we’ll give you money.”
Why would any business want to take on that much risk? If the worst case happens, they are on the hook to suffer the worst of it, not you. We are willing to pay a premium for this type of assurance.
At the same time, we can assume that insurance companies make huge sums of money. HUGE! They advertise constantly on prime time TV which costs millions of dollars. Do they know something we don’t know?
Yes, in fact they do. They know that worst case scenarios hardly ever occur. In fact the percentage of the time that big catastrophes strike the average person are infinitesimal. And yet, so often I hear those dreaded 3 words… YOU NEVER KNOW.
Can you Control your Mind?
What I do know is that thinking negatively does have an affect on the kind of life you create. I’m not claiming that a strict policy of only positive thoughts will pre-empt all difficulties. However thinking negatively leads to beliefs that are based in negativity and those beliefs will definitely affect your day to day life.
Many have told me they get it. They understand this teaching but they can’t seem to control their minds. As much as they want to think more positively, the realities they see day by day and their experiences contradict a more positive outlook.
This is also true. The world and the challenges we all face trying to get our stuff done and find some enjoyment in life are real. There can be a shift in consciousness that leads to a dramatic transformation in your internal landscape.
Here is a snapshot of the mental landscape that I hear from many beginning meditators;
“My mind is non-stop regurgitating scenarios and leaving me somewhat anxious and unsettled. I have a ton of negative thoughts most days and I can’t stop them. When I get angry, I don’t know how to stop my mind from replaying what happened and continually blaming the other person for what they did. Then I start to hate myself for being so judgmental. I get exhausted and then eat or drink too much as a way to find relief.”
Life in the World
This is life in the world for sure. The world is NOT something meditation is going to change immediately. Meditation gives you the opportunity to change how you respond to the world.
The world (a somewhat nebulous term, I understand) has a vested interest in cultivating worst-case thinking. The more fear the world stimulates in you, the more you need their insurance packages. And then the richer these companies get.
What meditation does is put you face to face with your mind. We make a conscious effort to reduce the stimulation to our senses and focus within. With practice, you will come to an inner world and here is where you can clearly see what your mind does.
Initially all that worst case activity can seem daunting. It makes us angry because it’s not natural. To be in a chronic state of worry about horrible things happening is terribly draining.
It may appear as though that type of thinking cannot be stopped however it absolutely can! No surprise… one very reliable solution is MEDITATION.
Meditation in its simplest definition can be thought of as a time of inner contemplation whereby we train the mind to function in ways that bring greater peace. We give all our attention to the activity of our minds and emotions and, through the exertion of will, consciousness and wisdom, we transform.
Transformation Away from Disastrous Thinking
Living without dwelling in worst case thinking will save a huge amount of energy. Better to use meditation as a tool to promptly process difficult emotions.
Learning to process emotions is easy to understand but somewhat challenging to implement. We all know that when we feel lousy, we don’t always feel like doing the right thing.
If we are in an emotional state such as irritated, anxious, or depressed, it is more common to try and do something that makes us feel immediately better. The most common activities may include overeating, getting drink or high, masturbating or gossiping.
Meditation can provide reliable (and free!) methods to examine your feelings when distressed and diffuse the pressure these feelings are creating.
Spiritual Maturity Means Confidence when Difficulty Strikes
When you become skilled at moving through anxiety and fear quickly using meditation, then you won’t fear worst cases nearly as much. Your confidence in yourself will grow. Your fear of the world will reduce.
A spiritually mature person expects a certain amount of adversity as it is unavoidable in the current consciousness of humanity. We all need some basic functioning and coping skills for the challenges we face.
The difference is that when you know your inner world and have developed the ability to keep the mind neutral and positive most of the time, you don’t slip into dark rabbit holes of negativity. And if you do, you recognize it quickly and get out.
When you begin to sense a down mood, you can enter into meditation and process the feelings before they take you down too far. These two skills are paramount to gaining the relaxation that people crave as a direct benefit of learning to meditate.