A unique twist on positive thinking was taken from the Roman Stoic philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca (just Seneca to his friends.) He was a busy guy born in the year 4 BC He was not only a philosopher, but a tutor, statesman, dramatist, humorist and an advisor to Emperor Nero.
His unusual twist on positive thinking suggested that occasionally we try not to focus on the best case scenario, but the worst. Seneca advised, for example, that if you feared losing your wealth you should, “Set aside a certain number of days during which you shall be content with the scantiest and cheapest fare, with course and rough dress, saying to yourself all the while, ‘Is this the condition I feared?’” Do you suppose after that he said, “Well, this isn’t so bad!”
One person, following Seneca’s advice, recently admitted that her greatest fear was to feel embarrassed. So she went to every table at a busy restaurant and said, “Hello” to every person there. Her overblown fears were cut down to size. No one shouted at her or attacked her; she just got a few strange looks.
I realize I use this tactic too. In stressful or fearful situations I sometimes ask myself, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” When I think that through, I often surmise, “Well, I could handle that.”
Do you have a worst fear? Try this technique to help you to overcome it. Maybe you won’t wear a rough course dress and talk to people in a crowded restaurant, but what worse case scenario can you imagine…and handle?
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