When I was a kid I remember my parents telling me they were going to take me on my first rollercoaster. I imagined what it would be like as a new experience for my 8-year-old self. I remember thinking that the roller coaster would go so fast that it would fall off the rails and that would be it for me. As you can tell by the fact that my adult self has written this article, that's not what happened. I actually loved the roller coaster and have been on many more since.
I've noticed throughout my life that I always create these expectations when I'm planning on doing something for the first time. I've tried to stop imagining what things will be like but I'm too curious and impatient to wait and experience something without having thought of every possible way that it could happen first. Usually, I end up having more negative expectations than positive ones. These can make plans less exciting and in fact quite stressful.
Although children have much less of a filter on their imagination compared to the average adult. Anybody can overthink the future to the point of convincing themself that something bad is going to happen. It's important to focus on positive thoughts in order to feel excited instead of anxious or overwhelmed.
Is it normal to overthink the future and first-time experiences?
When thinking about something we are going to do for the first time, or even the future in general, our curiosity can be hard to hold back. Humans are curious by nature. Have you ever found yourself reading a story about someone you've never met and wanting to know how it ends? Or wanting to explore a place you've never been? These are minor examples, the point is that curiosity is normal and it's one reason we can learn and expand our surroundings and many of us don't get stuck in a tiny comfort zone forever.
How can I avoid overthinking and fear?
It's important to keep an open mind and not spend too much time thinking about "possibilities". Some things you can do to bring yourself back to thinking about reality are writing down things you are grateful for, thinking about something that makes you laugh, or having a conversation with a friend or coworker that you admire.
To help block out overthinking, it's important to try to keep busy. Do you have a hobby you enjoy doing? Do you have work to do? Is there somewhere you can go to focus your mind on a fixed task for a time? The human brain struggles to give full attention to more than one thing at a time. By focusing on something you're doing in the present, it's much harder to focus on the future.
"Happiness is by choice, not by chance"
In my childhood home, there was a little wooden decoration that said "Happiness is by choice, not by chance". I read it at least 1000 times but I never thought about it until I became an adult. We can't let negativity get to us. Being positive is a choice and it brings happiness as a consequence. Going into the future with a bright, positive attitude is the only way to ensure that you will live every experience with an open mind and it gives you the best chance of being able to accept what comes.
With so much to be excited about, I think it's time we do our best to not worry about the future. We don't know everything that will happen to us, but we can be sure that our best days are still to come.
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