Sometimes, when we fear something,
the fear we anticipate experiencing is what makes us most anxious —
rather than the thing itself that we fear.
Psychologists call this ‘anticipatory anxiety’,
which, as technical terms go, is all very well.

But here’s how a man who lived more than a century ago put it:

Some of your hurts you have cured.
The sharpest still you have survived.
But what torments of grief you endured
From evils which never arrived.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803-82

I’ve taken to murmuring these words to myself when I feel afraid.
People can speak in psychobabble and jargon —
or they can use timeless words.
Which do you find more healing?

4 thoughts on “Anticipation

  1. Heart-warming that so thoughtful and literate a man felt the need to express this. If only he had also recognized the anxiety he inspired in the women who ministered to him.

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