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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Gibbons

Letting Go of the Future

How can we stop obsessing about the future when everything seems so uncertain?

The future is uncertain. And that’s the first thing we need to understand. It’s actually fine that the future is uncertain; that’s the nature of life. The only one who that’s not okay for is Little Me—the ego that demands that the future should be a particular way.

No matter how secure our present might appear to be—for example, in our relationships, finances, and employment—we can never be sure what the future will bring. Unfortunately, we demand certainty. We insist on that psychological security of knowing that everything will turn out okay. Unfortunately, that psychological security that we try so hard to get—with our thinking minds and all our frenetic activity—is simply not available.

Not available? We can’t ever feel secure?

Nope. Not available. We can never be certain that everything will be okay. Or that it won’t be okay. We may make better or worse decisions in the present that may affect the future, and we may have better or worse luck, but so much of what will occur is unpredictable and beyond our control. We can be happy and free now only if we’re able to accept that our future is uncertain.

Our tendency to worry is a result of this inability to accept unpredictability. It’s born out of a need to control what happens in the future. A demand that things turn out a certain way. Or don’t turn out a certain way.

So should we stop making plans or thinking about the future?

Not at all. We need to make plans, but we don’t need to worry. It’s a waste of time and energy. When we lose ourselves in worry—spending hours turning the same situation over and over in our minds—there’s a particular belief system in play that needs to be exposed because it’s the hidden belief that keeps us worrying.

The belief is that by worrying about something, I can influence what happens in the future, so that thing turns out the way I’d like. I believe that what’s taking place in my head—without me actually doing anything—directly makes a difference to what’s materializing in the world. I believe that by worrying about my health, for example, I’m doing something that’s useful to improve my health. Unfortunately, I’m not.

If we see this belief system clearly, we can recognize how futile it is to worry about something, and we can simply stop doing it.

But then that “worrying” situation is still there.

Yes. And I now have the opportunity to do what needs to be done. I can get out of my mental prison of worry, and I’m free to take whatever decisions or action might seem appropriate. Or simply to do nothing if I see that there’s nothing I can do. Either way, I can stop worrying about it.

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