Anticipating the Future

When we increase our knowledge through preparation, we give ourselves power to act.
When we increase our knowledge through preparation, we give ourselves power to act.

For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows.

— Mark 13:8 (KJV)

The world is in commotion

"God must be cruel and inhumane!" the man said, "All around me is death and destruction!"

"I'm always depressed," another told me. "Every time I watch the news, I see things that just make me sick!"

"I'm not going to have any children" the woman said. When I asked her why. she said, "The world is such a terrible place, I don't want them to be a part of it!"

The whole earth is in commotion. We hear of wars in far away nations, terror attacks at schools and airports, people killing their own family members, and sicknesses ravaging the innocent. Surely, there must be some way to shelter and protect our own!

When we anticipate the negative, all we see is difficulty, heartache, pain, and anguish. Like looking through a cracked windshield, we have a distorted view of reality. The road ahead is broken, fragmented to the point that we cannot see ourselves navigating it successfully. Bitterness and misery become our constant companions.

The fact is, anticipation is neither positive or negative, It is what we add to it by the thoughts we entertain that become problematic. See the table below:

Start with
Add
End up with
 
Doubt
Worry
Anticipation
Assumptions
Misunderstanding
 
Unrealistic Expectations
Disappointment
 
Exaggeration
Vulnerability

Anticipation is not the problem

Anticipation can be both a blessing and a curse. When we anticipate the good, we are filled with hope, and look forward to things getting better. We look to the future as a time when all of our problems will be solved. We think that things will get better when we get that new job, our children are a little bit older, or we are able to pay off our debt.

Anticipation of the negative, however, leads us to feelings that we don't want to repeat, in fact, they can even shut us off to living in the present moment. When our future looks bleak, we do not want to go forward. We end up stagnating in a mire of misery, repeating the problems of the past, ignorant of the possibility that there may be another way.

Preparation allows us to gain a greater understanding of what is happening, thereby affecting outcomes that we previously thought we could not control.
Preparation allows us to gain a greater understanding of what is happening, thereby affecting outcomes that we previously thought we could not control. | Source

Anticipation of the negative also blinds us to the good that is around us. We see God as a cruel and inhumane taskmaster who punishes the innocent and binds the brokenhearted. In reality, God is bound by natural law just as we are. He cannot force man to do his will, however, he will help those who turn to him.

The best thing to keep us from falling into distorted thinking patterns with our anticipation is to prepare. Preparation provides us with power to change both our present and our future. Taking the time now to look at our situation realistically and making needed changes is the only thing that will have a positive effect on what tomorrow brings.

Preparation takes action. It gives us a goal and purpose that guide what we do with our time and resources. Knowing that we have the ability to change our lives gives us the incentive to move forward in a positive way. We look to God for assistance in our preparation, and we are enabled to become more than we would otherwise.

Be of good cheer. The future is as bright as your faith.

— Thomas S. Monson*

Preparation dispels doubt

Doubt runs rampant when we don't know what will happen. The future is filled with mystery and suspense. The most important part of our preparation is the gathering of information. The more information we have at our disposal, the less we will be filled with doubt.

In our gathering, it is wise for us to learn as much as we can from others who have experienced similar things. We learn from our family members, friends, books, and on-line resources that are written on the subject. Our learning gives us much needed information for a workable plan.

Preparation alleviates assumptions

Assumptions are the result of us not knowing what others are thinking. We act based on our own information only. It is much better for us ask, that way we do not have to assume that we know. Asking questions is a big part of scientific inquiry. The more questions we ask, the more information we are able to have at our disposal, and the more accurate is that information.

In The Emotional Survival Handbook, we learn that assumptions have to be checked before we make decisions based upon them. If we find that our assumptions are correct, we can give ourselves a pat on the back.

If our assumptions are not correct, we need to rethink what we are doing. All decisions are based on what we believe to be true at the moment. If, however, we find that we are wrong, we have to rewind the process.

When we prepare for the future, we gather information and study the situation, then make a plan. Our plan is much more valid and reliable when it is based on factual information rather than assumptions.

Preparation allows us to find peace in the process.
Preparation allows us to find peace in the process.

How do you prepare for the future?

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Preparation exposes exaggeration

Preparation allows us to see things as they really are, rather than as we thought they were. Exaggeration happens when we hear something, and then retell our version of what we heard. With each retelling, the details get more and more out of proportion.

Before we pass information along to others, we need to check out the source of that information. Is the source credible? Are the facts documented? Have there been any other sources that say something similar?

Many fears are born of exaggerated information. As a result, these fears are based on emotional responses rather than on facts. It is our job to get as much information as possible before we act on that information.

Preparation enables realistic expectations

Unrealistic expectations often get us into trouble. We think we know what others want us to do, or what we want of ourselves, but we haven't taken the time to check it out. Our preparation and planning give us time to do that very thing.

When we undertake any type of project, our planning includes counting the cost, estimating the size, shape, time, and materials needed, and then putting a price tag on the total. If we haven't taken the time to look carefully at all these aspects, we are setting ourselves up for problems with the outcome.

... if ye are prepared ye shall not fear.

— D&C 38:30**

Our experience teaches us what is realistic and what is not. Our preparation is often based on our past experience. If we are a novice, we would do well to talk to others who have been there and get their advice on what can be realistically accomplished. Then, our estimates will be more accurate, and we will find that we can live up to them adequately.

Preparation helps avoid many of the problems associated with anticipating the future. It dispels doubt, alleviates assumptions, exposes exaggeration, and enables realistic expectations. Taking time today to prepare for the future gives today more meaning and purpose, and increases our level of happiness and peace.

Prepare now for the future, for your emotional health!

©2015 by Denise W. Anderson, all rights reserved. For more information on emotional health, see www.denisewa.com.

*Words by Thomas S. Monson from the April 2009 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (link).

**D & C, The Doctrine and Covenants, published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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Comments 20 comments

Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 19 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

Excellent work on a real important subject. Living in the moment must be tempered by preparation for the future. Thank you.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 19 months ago from Olympia, WA

I was raised to believe in the power of hard work. Somewhere along the way I became a planner. I combine the two and trust that they will get me through the future unscathed. :)


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 19 months ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

Thanks, Eric. You are right. If we concentrate only on living in the moment, we can make decisions that will jeopardize our future happiness! I appreciate you stopping by and commenting!


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 19 months ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

That is a great combination, Bill! When we plan and work hard, nothing can stop us! Thanks for sharing your experience!


Dr Bill Tollefson profile image

Dr Bill Tollefson 19 months ago from Southwest Florida

Great HUB on anticipation which is a projection of the future and can cause worry in many of us. 99% of all anticipations do not come true. So you part about preparing or planning is important. Action plan need to be developed in order to not live by chance.

Good work.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 19 months ago from The Caribbean

So if it takes effort to anticipate both the positive and the negative, we might as well go for the positive. Thanks for sharing this sensible perspective.


ChitrangadaSharan profile image

ChitrangadaSharan 19 months ago from New Delhi, India

Great hub and you have provided some excellent points about anticipation and preparation.

Preparation can help us to avoid many problems that we are anticipating for the future. You have rightly suggested that it can dispel doubt, alleviate assumptions, help to expose exaggeration, and thus enable realistic expectations.

Thanks for sharing this thoughtful provoking and important hub. Voted up!


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 19 months ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

That is interesting, Dr. Tollefson, that nearly all of the negative that we anticipate does not actually happen! Our action plan helps us to realize this important truth, and gives us a much better perspective on our future! I appreciate you stopping by.


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 19 months ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

That is a great point, MsDora! We may as well give ourselves something to look forward to rather than dreading each moment we live. Our time on this earth will be much more rewarding! Thanks for your insightful comment!


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 19 months ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

Yes, ChitrangadaSharan, preparation is the antidote when our anticipation is filled with doubt, assumptions, exaggeration, and unrealistic expectations. When we go down this road, the negative emotions run rampant and we feel like we are defeated before we even start! Preparation gives us something constructive to do that builds a positive outlook for the future. I appreciate the positive vote and your feedback!


Molly Layton profile image

Molly Layton 19 months ago from Alberta

This is a wonderful Hub. Your suggestions for preparing for the future are so helpful. It is a wonderful aid for dealing with uncertainty. I have a question, though. What do you do when you don't have a point of reference to start preparing from? That can be a general "you" or you specifically.


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 19 months ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

That is a great question, Molly! Where do we start and what are we preparing for? We all face the unknown and uncertainty is a part of daily life. I think that the best place to start is with yourself. Answer the following questions: What is happening? What am I thinking about doing? What will happen if I do it? What is better for me and others in the long run? Taking the time to answer these questions on a piece of paper will give you a frame of reference. The best place to start is where you are. Stay tuned for more in my next hub!


Kate Mc Bride profile image

Kate Mc Bride 18 months ago from Donegal Ireland

This hub and the depression one both refer to the importance of preparation. This makes a lot of sense Denise and your tables are great too. Cheers for the free life coaching :-). Voted up and useful.


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 18 months ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

Thanks, Kate. I do my best to help people make those choices that will establish and maintain their emotional health. I guess you could call it life coaching! I appreciate your comments.


Kate Mc Bride profile image

Kate Mc Bride 17 months ago from Donegal Ireland

It is practical stuff Denise. I find that taking your advice about preparation in both those hubs makes me more relaxed and slows me down. Cheers for that :-) Kate


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 17 months ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

I'm glad that you found it helpful, Kate! I appreciate you letting me know that as well. Sometimes I wonder just what affect these principles have on others. I know that they help me, and it is good to know they are helping others as well. Take care!


Reynold Jay profile image

Reynold Jay 13 months ago from Saginaw, Michigan

Some wonderful thoughts in this. I finished 3 decades working special education and loved every minute. Well done Denise.


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 13 months ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

Thanks, Reynold. Special Education holds a special place in my heart. Those who work in this field have hearts of gold. Thank you for your service! I appreciate your comments.


Reynold Jay profile image

Reynold Jay 13 months ago from Saginaw, Michigan

Oh, oh...back again! Preparation is a valuable life lesson and I incorporated that concept into my children's series. In Book one, the Little Doll Girl, our heroine slays the dragon because of the support of all she knew. They spent a long time preparing for the upcoming battle and then met the challenge head-on knowing that they were nearly certain to win because they were prepared for all that was to come.


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 13 months ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

That sounds like a great story, Reynold. Preparation is such a valuable principle that we can all benefit from. When we think ahead at what we can do to make our future better, we give today more value. Thanks for your comment!

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