Left to our own devices, we can create pretty scary stories when considering what the future might bring. What if this,,, what if that? And for some reason, the most frequent stories I create don’t have favorable outcomes. And for some reason, I can’t figure out why anyone, including myself, would want to do that.
I think a part of the habit of creating stories with worst-case scenarios is that we lack faith in some sort of Higher Power. We’ve all had “bad” things happen in the past, things we’d like to avoid, and we’re left wondering how we’ll handle the next “bad” thing.
I think another reason we can tend to figure on a “worst case scenario” is that we want to be prepared if something bad were to happen. We think by keeping it close to us, in this case, pondering and obsessing about it, then we can keep the bad things from happening. Such is the case, even though we don’t have any control over most all of it. Control is nothing but an illusion.
I have a specific instance in mind in my own life. I recently made another concerted effort to try to quit smoking. After consulting with my physician, he and I decided it would be a good idea to get a CAT scan to see what damage had already been done. I was able to get an appointment relatively quickly and the scan took less than five minutes. Then the wait began.
From Wednesday of one week to Monday of the next week, I created all types of stories about what the results and prognosis would be. While I understood that there wasn’t anything I could do to change my past smoking habits, I still worried about what the scan would show. I came up with some pretty scary stories, concocted from nothing based in reality. It seemed every time I turned around, there was an ad on social media, a television show, or something of the sort that mention cancer. I came up with the story that perhaps I was being prepared for the ultimate worst outcome.
During this time, I debated on whether or not to call the doctor for test results. My first inclination was to wait, and that I did. I finally did call on Friday afternoon, but the doctor’s office had already closed. I made a promise to myself and a friend that I would call at some point on Monday. I even had that friend say that he was going to hold me accountable and to make sure I let him know when the call had been made.
I finally set a deadline of 3 p.m. to make the call. Fortunately, I didn’t have to make that dreaded call. The doctor’s office called while I was running some errands and my phone was hooked up to my car’s audio system via Bluetooth. I could tell by the number that it displayed that it was the doctor’s office. She said they had the results of the text and there was no evidence of any cancer. I breathed a high sigh of relief. The wait and the worry were over.
So all that time, from the day the test was ordered to today, when the results were known, I had created a story of doom and gloom. And as it turns out, none of that was based in reality. I had once again learned a valuable lesson and seen what my mind could create from nothing.
I’m not going to say that I’ll never create these stories again. But I will make a concerted effort to try not to paint the worst-case scenario again and keep the faith that no matter what happens, I will be able to handle it.
2 thoughts on “The Stories We Create”
I do the exact same thing! I make mountains out of molehills, then I pass the point where I realise that I’ve been totally worrying about something that didn’t happen, and I wonder if I’m doing myself a disservice by always thinking that way—but I can’t seem to stop.
Anyway, wishing you all the best with quitting smoking! I quit a ten-year habit of a pack-a-day some fifteen years ago, and that’s the best decision I’ve ever made.
Thank you for your response and experience, strength, and hope. It’s always good to know that I’m not the only one thinking in a particular way and yes, there are changes we can make with our thinking. Patient progress, not perfection.