Please Don’t Let Your Fears Plan Your Future


I think I have some version of a God complex.

This realization has settled into my awareness gradually over the course of my twenties – but it has been present inside me since childhood. I am determinately convinced that everything that happens to me in life is 100% related to the choices that I consciously make – the good ones and the bad ones.

Relationship failed? I can point to exactly what I did to destroy it.

Landed the job of my dreams? It’s because I worked harder and took more risks than everyone else.

At one point, during a hypnosis session, I actually confessed to my therapist that I was worried I would down any airplane I got on because I’d accumulated a lot of bad karma.

My subconscious, ladies and gentlemen. Even the most intuitive part of me believes that I am capable of making an eight hundred thousand pound aircraft crash. Because there’s nothing I’m not in control of.

This all sounds ridiculous when voiced aloud, of course. I know, intellectually, that I’m not responsible for much of what happens in the world – airplane crashes or world wars or the people I love getting sick when they deserve it the least.

But here’s the thing about our minds – they only understand the world around them as it relates back to them. We think, therefore we are. And on a subconscious level we believe that we think, therefore the world is.

Our minds aren’t big fans of objective reality (even though they love to think they are). We understand the world around us predominantly as it relates to us.

And the only thing scarier than being in control of everything that happens to us is being out of control of it.

The only thing scarier than assuming that we are, on some level, responsible for all the world’s atrocities, is accepting that we are absolutely powerless in the face of them. The only thing scarier than assuming that our futures will be bleak and unhappy is assuming that we won’t have any say over what happens in our future at all.

We like to believe that we are the masters of our own destinies – that everything that has happened and will happen to us is a direct consequence of our own actions.

This makes the future seem manageable. It makes our lives seem controlled. It makes the massive, overwhelming task of existing on the planet of Earth seem like one that we can take on.

But here’s the frank, unforgiving truth that we’re all particularly great at avoiding – our futures are almost entirely unpredictable.

We don’t know what tomorrow’s going to look like. Never mind next week. Or next month, or next year, or a decade from now.

And one way of dealing with this quandary of the great unknown is to make our worlds small and predictable. To X out uncertain possibilities, to hide ourselves away from change and chaos. We whittle our worlds down to only what we have between our fingers, in order to make sure that nothing alters.

But this is also a great way to ensure that nothing wonderful happens to us, either.

Because the truth is, by closing ourselves off from negative possibilities, we shield ourselves from positive ones too. By eliminating the scary unknown, we eliminate the chance to be genuinely surprised and delighted by life.

Because we couldn’t possibly imagine – from where we’re standing now – what the future might have in store for us. We only know what we’ve known so far.

And we forget that there are things out there so wonderful that we wouldn’t even think to try for them.

There are things that could change our lives so drastically, we wouldn’t be able to imagine what it might look like on the other side. There are people we could love so entirely that we wouldn’t even remember, afterwards, what we thought love was before we met them. There are lives out there so brilliant that we wouldn’t ever consider ourselves capable of leading them.

And we’re never going to be able to, unless and until we start opening ourselves back up to the unknown.

Because the truth is, any future that we can imagine right now probably isn’t a future worth realizing. We base our visions of the future on our fears, our limitations, and our tendency to re-create the past at any cost.

But we have the option to choose differently.

We have the option to open our minds up to the possibility that the future might still be a brilliant place. It might surpass our expectations. It may be so incredible and groundbreaking that we couldn’t even imagine it from where we’re standing now.

But to find that out, we have to stay open to it. And we have to be willing to welcome the seeds of the unknown, if we ever hope to see our lives blossom.