Uncertain Future

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An uncertain future negatively affects the quality of the present because when things are up in the air painful existential anxiety is produced. For many of us, not knowing how the situation is going to turn out is more distressing than knowing beyond the shadow of a doubt that some unwanted result will come to pass, which is of course insane when considered from a logical perspective but not so insane when we realize that to us what matters most is whether our subjective experience is clouded by anxiety or anchored by certainty.

It doesn’t matter so much to the psyche whether a certain future is perceived to be positive or negative, wanted or unwanted, at least in the sense that in either of these cases there’s little anxiety to deal with. So what we have to remember is that the presence of anxiety is not in and of itself an indicator that the future will be bad and unwanted just as the absence of anxiety is not in and of itself and indicator that the future will be good and wanted.

This insight can help us enjoy the present a little more when it’s being negatively affected by an uncertain future. We can name our discomfort for what it is, which is existential anxiety. We can consciously remind ourselves that our anxiety is actually a proof that things might turn out well, and just as importantly we can remind ourselves that at least for right now we’re still okay.