Stop Predicting the Future and Dare to Create It

Anticipating things that haven't happened yet is a very common form of suffering. Instead of imagining all the bad things that can happen tomorrow, focus on transforming your present. After all, real opportunities take place in the here and now.
Stop Predicting the Future and Dare to Create It
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 November, 2021

Avoid predicting the future. Think about it. You don’t have a crystal ball, nor is there a temple nearby with a deity to tell you what’s going to happen tomorrow or the day after that. So just stop. Stop anticipating things that haven’t happened yet because there’s no better way to torture yourself by inventing a future, created only in your mind, driven by anxiety.

We know it’s very easy to say but almost impossible to control the automatic flow of thoughts. Ideally, in terms of mental well-being, everything would go through a simple process of snapping our fingers and stopping what causes us to suffer.

Sadly, it doesn’t work this way. Instead, we often go through periods of time when we feel like we’re trapped in a maze of worry and whirlwinds of overthinking.

Psychotherapist Albert Ellis said in his book How to Make Yourself Happy that people tend to establish self-destructive habits in their lives almost without realizing it.

Anticipating what’s going to happen and imagining the worst possibilities is a common habit. Removing this habit from our mental universe isn’t easy because often it’s something we’ve done as long as we can remember.

However, you can learn to stop predicting the future. Let’s learn more.

Predicting the future can cause lots of anxiety.

Instead of predicting the future, transform your present

When you discover that you’ve entered a loop where your thoughts are spiraling about what will or won’t happen, do something very simple. Firstly, take a deep breath and then exhale. There’s no better way to hold onto the present than by becoming aware of your breathing.

You’re made of flesh, bones, and a brain that often goes faster than we’d like. However, your body and mind need you to be here and now. You should breathe deeply and create calm in your abdomen where your nerves are swirling. It’s important to create balance to relax your muscles and create peace of mind to avoid headaches.

Anxious minds are overactive and can lead to stress and seeing things differently than they are. We can view any future events negatively, and this can cause our bodies to go into alert mode. It’s like waiting for a threat. Our senses are sharpened and the body prepares for what’s to come (real or imaginary). As a result, this causes muscle aches, discomfort, and perpetual fatigue.

Predicting the future can be a devastating form of suffering. However, why do we do this? Is this kind of thinking useful? Obviously not.

Focus on the present by giving yourself what you need

Real-life happens in the present. However, we rarely dwell on the present. The human mind is a tireless acrobat: it jumps from here to there, from past to future.

Often, people start remembering yesterday and focusing on mistakes, missed opportunities, or unfulfilled dreams. Seconds later, with a quick pirouette, the mind moves to the future to dance through all kinds of possible scenarios of what may or may not happen.

You need to train your mental focus to stay in the present, the here and now. However, at times, the reality around us can be complex, delicate, and defined by constant uncertainty.

What can we do when what’s happening is tainted with obstacles? The answer is simple: you need to give yourself what you need. Here are some strategies:

  • Don’t anticipate anything. Instead, focus only on objectively analyzing what’s happening and what you need to do in the here and now to feel good.
  • Sometimes, immediate reality depends on taking action. If so, don’t put it off. React, mobilize, transform, and be proactive.
  • At other times, it’s best to do nothing. Just accept what’s happening, assume the new reality, and take care of yourself. How? Through rest, accepting your emotions, and staying calm.
A man standing before two different paths.

Stop predicting the future and dare to create it

Some say that we live in an era of distraction. Other people believe it’s a time of constant worry. Be that as it may, there’s something undeniable: the worries of tomorrow.

The obsession with predicting the future is a desperate attempt of the mind to get things under control. You might believe that if you anticipate what might happen in a few days or months, then you can prepare for it.

However, the problem is that you’ll always be preparing for the worst. This level of anxiety causes problems and isn’t a good strategy.

Not predicting the future should definitely be our mantra for mental health. Instead, we recommend a different approach: transforming our present for a better tomorrow.

Focus less on what’s going on in your mind and more on what’s going on around you, the here and now. That’s where opportunities arise and where you need yourself the most. As Mark Twain once said, “I’ve been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened”.

On many occasions, understanding that our thoughts are deceiving us will allow us to shift our attention to what’s happening in front of us. We need each other at this very moment. We need to give ourselves self-care, balance, calm, connection, and creativity.

The art of controlling thought and attention requires time and effort. However, if you succeed, the effects are therapeutic. Begin that critical work today!

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.