Worry about the future? Humanist coping skills for existential angst.

Everyone worries about the future. We can't help it. The future matters. Our future matters. What can we do to help ourselves create a better future?

This question is central to the humanist approach. What kind of future do we want? How can we create that future?

The reason we all have angst is because - despite our best efforts, things may not go our way. The reason psychics and other charlatans even have businesses is because people are anxious about the future and really really really want to know how things will turn out.  Humans embrace supernatural options when the normal options - aren't an options.

This is primarily a problem of patience and feelings of helplessness.  If you want to do something, but there is nothing practical you can do - doing something supernatural can help you feel like you are doing something even when you are actually doing nothing, but giving your money and time to someone who can't help you.

Humanists reject supernatural approaches because a) they don't work and b) they take our energy and direct it away from practical things we could be doing.

So how do I cope with the unknowable future? 

First - patience.  At some point - we will know what happens in the future - because it will happen. If we just allow ourselves to accept that it is ok to not know, we can avoid doing stupid things out of our impatience. And I say this as someone who lacks patience.

So - what do I do when I can't do anything about the thing I am anxious about?  I do something else. I work on something I can have an impact on. That way - I don't do something stupid when I just need to be patient.

The other problem we have is the feeling of helplessness.  Sometimes, doing nothing is the right thing to do - but doing nothing makes us feel helpless.  So how do I cope with those feelings?

Again, I redirect into something else and I remind myself that it's ok that I don't know how things will turn out and that either way - I will survive. I may not like the outcome, but worrying about it isn't going to change it.

This is why the serenity prayer continues to be so useful.  Have the courage to change the  things you can. The patience to accept thing things you can't change and the wisdom to know the difference.

Wisdom is key.  Wisdom is both critical thinking and philosophy combined. 

So when you find yourself in times of trouble and you are anxious about the future.  Think.  Can I do anything to improve my chances? Or if I take action, will it be counter productive.  Use that knowledge to inform your actions.

If it turns out that doing nothing is the best thing - accept that!!! And work on something else - a plan b if you will for what you will do if your desired outcome doesn't happen.

One of the great things about Humanism is it rejects supernaturalism. So - we are less tempted to resort to supernatural solutions to help. We can instead - realistically assess our choices, and if we can't work on plan A right now, we work on a plan B. That way if plan A doesn't pan out - we have a back up plan. And that's much better path to future success than wasting your time, energy and money on supernatural nonsense.

If you need help learning how to cope more effectively and want to try applied Humanism - check out my Living Made Simpler Course - https://humanistlearning.com/livingmadesimpler1/

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...